On a cruising sailboat, a good anchor set can make the difference between a sleepless, stressful night and a good nights sleep. Lately we have been having some sleepless nights. If the anchor drags or the worse – fails – the boat could easily drift into another boat, or worse end up on the shore. Needless to say, anchors are one of the most important pieces of equipment on a cruising sailboat.
Up until the 1990′s the available anchors tended to work better on one surface or another. If a sailor planned to travel outside their home range, they usually needed to carry two or three anchors to suit the conditions they expected to encounter. Sea Change II came with a Bruce and CQR on the dual bow rollers and the Delta hung off the stern.
We used the Delta the first time we used the boat when the engine quit and we found ourselves without power in a narrow channel heading straight towards a luxury motor yacht. We dropped it off the stern and it stopped the boat in it’s tracks. The Delta is a good, light weight easy to store anchor but it has the reputation of being more prone to mechanical failure than some of the other anchors.
The CQR was a good anchor on sandy, hard and weedy bottoms of Lake Superior and Lake Huron. However, we have found the CQR hard to set (sometimes it takes two or three tries before it sets). We also have found it less than reliable in situations where the wind or tide reverses during the night. In these cases, the anchor needs to pivot up to 180 degrees and then reset itself. For this reason we have only used it occasionally on the US east coast where we are commonly anchored in tidal areas.
Our Bruce anchor excels on the muddy bottoms on which we found ourselves anchored most of the time along the US east coast. We love it. It has held us in 40 knot sustained winds, and through tidal changes in swift currents. It seldom dragged and was always there for us. However, since arriving in South Florida we have found it harder to set and hold. The reason for this is that has a tendency to skip along the harder surfaces on which we now find ourselves anchored.
Both the CQR and Bruce anchors were premium anchors when Sea Change II took her her voyages in the 1990′s. Since then some new all round anchors have been released. These anchors are especially good at setting and resetting themselves. Some include roll bars to prevent the anchor lying on it’s side.
Today we purchased a state-of-the-art Manson Supreme anchor. Our new Manson Supreme has a self righting roll bar and a reputation for fast setting/resetting. We are going to retire our CQR and… if we can get them both to fit snugly… keep both the Manson and the Bruce on the bow. The Bruce works better on soft bottoms than the Manson.
We are hoping for more restful nights!