Anchoring and Ground Tackle

We are still no experts on anchoring but we have learned a lot so far. I will cover the things we have learned from direct experience and then comment on things we have learned second hand.

Our primary anchor is a 45 lb. CQR plow on 250' of 5/16" High Test chain rode. If I was doing it again I would get a 60 lb. CQR and 350' of chain but otherwise I like the setup. A lot of chain and a big anchor is a comforting feeling when the wind gets over 50 knots in the anchorage.

Setting a CQR is a little tricky sometimes and is the main reason that CQR's are not everyone's favorite anchors. The hard part is getting it to dig in straight. They like to set on their side. We let out 2 to 1 scope (30' in water depth of 15') and then gently pull on the anchor. This pulls with some upward force which stands the anchor up. Too much pull will prevent it from digging in. At this point we let out until we achieve a 4 to 1 scope and pull hard. The hard pull is necessary to determine that the anchor is properly set. We have had to re-anchor as many as 4 times after pulling out on the hard pull but we have never dragged our anchor after setting it this way. Hellen feels the chain while I pull and she can tell if we are dragging the anchor. We then let out chain to the desired scope, 5 to 1 if we are not expecting heavy weather and 7 to 1 if we think we might get a blow.

An all chain rode is a must for a cruiser. Chain resists abrasions from rocks and coral and its weight allows for less scope. The most important reason is that boats on rope rode swing in a much larger arc because their rode is off of the bottom. Boats on rope rode anchored amongst boats on chain rode create havoc. Almost all cruising boats have chain rode so, unless your are sailing a racing boat that just can't afford the weight, get chain. A chain rode requires a windlass, ours is a Lofrans. It works fine but it is Italian and, having owned a Fiat, I worry about it.

Our secondary anchor is a Rigid Max 17. It weighs 48 pounds and is a little hard to describe. It sets quickly and testing shows that it holds very well but we have not used it yet. We have it on 20' of 3/8" chain followed by 350' of 5/8" nylon. I know, you are thinking I am a hypocrite, but can't afford the weight or the expense of 2 chain rodes. The Max was selected for its quick and sure setting as well as its ability to operate with less scope. It is our emergency anchor when we need to stop the boat from going on the rocks and our deep water anchor because it will hold with 3 to one scope. This is all based on marketing info and we will update after we use it some.

A Bruce anchor is very similar to our Max in setting and holding characteristics. I know many cruiser's that use a Bruce and wouldn't use anything else. I think the CQR holds better when properly set but the Bruce sets more reliably. I went CQR because it fits better with the Max on our bowsprit.