What’s in a good night’s sleep? Well, our 3-inch memory foam mattress topper sure does help, but that is more for comfort (and by the way, it’s great!). I am talking about how do you sleep when the wind is blowing 25 knots (that’s about 30 mph), the water is slapping and rocking the hull, and the rigging is howling an ominous tune? Faith in your anchor, that’s how! When we bought Journey, though she was very well equipped, her anchor was not quite the right type for the various seabeds we would encounter on our trip. So, I did one of the things I do best, research!
I won’t go into all of the details, but I spent some time looking into the various anchor options as well as what other ICW/ Bahamas-bound cruisers were using. The majority of the ICW seems to be mud, which is fine for many types of anchors, even the Bruce anchor (claw-type anchor) that Journey had on her bow when we bought her. But the southern portions of the ICW and the Bahamas have sandy bottoms, which are a little different. You need an anchor that will essentially set itself too, especially when dealing with shifting winds and/or currents. In other words, you want an anchor that digs itself back in if it’s pulled out due to a change in wind or current. These factors narrow the choice down to plow or scoop anchors.
Most cruisers that have had their anchor a while have a Delta or CQR (say it out loud and it sounds like “secure”), but recently, there is a new alternative that is arguably better because of its self-righting ability. These new anchors fall into the general category of scoop anchors, but are more frequently known as “next generation” anchors. The basic principle behind them is similar to plow anchors in shape and burying action, but they have a self-righting roll bar on top that makes the anchor flip over the correct way when it hits the bottom. The way I see it, if I can be sure that the anchor has landed the right way and is digging in as it was designed to do, then I can have more confidence that our anchor will set firm.
If you decide to get a next generation anchor, there are basically 3 choices, the Rocna, Manson Supreme, and Mantus. The Mantus is somewhat convenient if you need to stow your anchor since it bolts together, but as a primary anchor I preferred something that has been cast from one big, heavy piece of metal. So I was left to decide between the Rocna and the Manson Supreme; this is where is gets tricky.
There is some controversy and what seems to be almost child-like name calling on which one came first and if one company stole the other one’s design. I didn’t really care about that, I just needed an anchor that will work without question. There have been many tests to determine which anchor is better, and you can find data to endorse either one if you look hard enough, which means to me that you cannot really say one is better than the other with any statistical confidence. But while researching, I ran across some information about how Rocna moved their manufacturing operations to China for a while and started using a lesser grade metal than what was published on their website (they have since stopped). I also found that West Marine was giving refunds to people who bought these inferior anchors or those who just lost confidence and, just like that, it became an easy decision for me to go with the Manson Supreme anchor.
Once I decided to go with a Manson Supreme, it came down to sizing it. The manufacturers make recommendations on anchor sizes based on the size of the boat. But any cruiser that has some miles under their keel will tell you that you should always go one size bigger than the manufacturer suggests. That gets tricky too. Bigger means more expensive and people also argue that you don’t want extra weight on the bow. But in my opinion, if 20 lbs. is going to make that much of a difference to you, you better budget for staying at marinas or take up racing instead of cruising. Looking at the manufacturer recommendations, if we wanted to be cheap we could rationalize a 25 lb. anchor since the boat size range for that 25 lb. anchor is 25’-35’. Walking the piers at some of the marinas we have been to, it seems that is the decision that many skippers have made. But since a 35’ boat is at the upper limit of that range, the minimum size for anyone deciding to spend a lot of time at anchor is 35 lbs. So we went with a 45 lb. anchor! Though we may have shelled out a couple of extra dollars for it, and it may slow us down the littlest bit with all that extra weight on the bow (sarcasm), our anchor is recommended for boats that have more weight and windage, so we can rest assured that we are not going anywhere once our anchor digs into the bottom.
Obviously, there are other factors to consider when anchoring, like technique, scope, rode, etc., but so far, we have no doubts about our Manson Supreme!