Anchor Selection

By Don Casey

The type of anchor you need depends on the bottom, not the boat. If, for example, you nearly always anchor in sand, a Danforth-style anchor will give the best hold for the weight, but that anchor won't hold at all in thick weeds — it just sits on top — and it may tend to foul on a rocky bottom. Both the plow and the claw style anchors are more versatile for different types of bottoms, but these can be difficult to stow on boats without a bow roller. Any anchor carried on a bow roller should be lashed or pinned in place; having it release while you are up on plane can ruin your whole day.

Once you decide on the type of anchor, each manufacturer provides recommendations for the proper size based on boat length. In fact, it is the above-water profile more than the length that determines the load on the anchor, so if you have a boat that is higher than others of the same length, you should choose an anchor one size larger than the manufacturer recommends.

Don Casey has been one of the most consulted experts on boat care and upgrades for 30 years, and is one of the BoatUS Magazine's panel of experts. He and his wife cruise aboard their 30-footer part of the year in the eastern Caribbean. His books include Don Casey's Complete Illustrated Sailboat Maintenance Manual, and the recently updated This Old Boat, the bible for do-it-yourself boaters.


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