Our Anchoring Setup

As we spend most of our nights on the boat “on the hook,” inquiring minds want to know what our anchor setup is. We also spent a lot of time researching what we think is the ideal setup for our boat. Many may have differing opinions, but in the end, we have to consider factors such as budget, weight, anchoring areas, sea bottoms, depths, etc.

As racing sailors, anchoring was never really a significant concern to us. Sure, we know how to anchor in an emergency, in a storm, without the engine, and on a lee shore. Short of emergencies, or dropping a hook to hold a position during a race postponement we have never considered anchoring. To sum things up, our experience anchoring is limited to just a few hours for drinks, swimming, or race committee work. Usually this was done with undersized racing tackle and rode, but adequate enough to hold for “three beers” or so (yes, in the midwest we measure time and distance in “beers”, so “three beers” is somewhere between two and three hours, but mileage may vary by personal circumstances).

We had spent a few nights at anchor last summer in the North Channel of Lake Huron using a racing setup of short-chain and all rode on a Fortress anchor. We went through a 60kt squall with this setup. In short, overnight or long term anchoring is just something we did not spend much time thinking about before jumping into the long-term cruiser lifestyle. When I said we spent a lot of time researching the best anchoring setup, I mean a ton of time. We spent weeks sitting up into the wee hours reading about anchors and different configurations. At this point, I may know just about everything there is to know about anchors. Well, I am sure I have not read everything but darn close. What I haven’t done is experienced everything. In this lifestyle, real-world experience is sometimes far from what the books or online forums say. The old-salt in the online forums may recommend deploying two hugely oversized anchors every night on a 7:1 scope to compensate for any possible wind shift and tidal swing. In the real world, that is just not practical.

Our practical considerations started with what was already on the boat. When we bought it, the boat was equipped with a Lewmar Delta 44lb plow anchor, 218 feet of 3/8 inch galvanized G43 chain, a 7/16 inch shackle, a Lewmar Concept 2 windlass with capstan, and a spare 35lb Danforth style anchor. To us, this setup was quite hefty. Before we left the boatyard, we ordered a backup 50 feet of chain spliced to 200 feet of 5/8″ rode to add to our arsenal.

We left the dock to go cruising with this, and it worked well, but we were never quite 100 percent confident in the way the Delta anchor set. We could easily drag it with the engine, and if there were a 180-degree shift in wind or current, the anchor would sometimes trip on itself, and we would have to reset it manually. Keep in mind; this is in relatively benign August conditions. After our first drag, the nightly anchor research began.

If you have watched a YouTube cruising video or perused the online sailing forums, there is no doubt you have heard of a Rocna anchor. If you haven’t heard of one, consider yourself living in the dark ages. A Rocna and another brand called a Mantus are both referred to as “new-generation” anchors. They are variants of a scoop/plow combination. They really aren’t new, as both have been on the market for over ten years, but in the marine industry, especially sailboats, you might as well consider that new. After much research, we determined that the current Delta anchor we had was an ideal day anchor, or even OK for overnights, but it was not sized appropriately for storm type conditions or longer-term anchoring. Meaning it is OK, but not an anchor you want to leave the boat on and walk away from for a day or two. We concluded that we wanted our primary anchor to be substantial enough to hold through a 60-knot squall or be able to re-set itself if there was a significant wind shift. We also wanted a secondary anchor, deployable by hand from either the bow or the stern for extreme wind or tide conditions. Next, we want a third hand-deployable anchor in case of emergency. This third anchor would be our existing Danforth and used only in emergency if we were to have to release ourselves from our primary anchors. Lastly, we put a greatly oversized Fortress anchor on our wishlist as a hurricane anchor, or to be used in conjunction with our other anchors as a semi-permanant mooring (this last option would be if we had to leave the boat to fly home, etc.).

We determined that a new generation anchor was the best fit for all-around day to day anchoring duties. We wanted one that was sized well above the minimum for our boat. It was down to the Mantus and the Rocna. Both brands recommended their ~85lb versions as the maximum or storm anchor size for our length boat, and a ~55lb version as an adequate cruising anchor size. Each have more holding power than a comparable weight standard anchor. We are a lighter, more racing-oriented boat than most other cruising boats; because of this, we could use a lighter anchor. The 55lb versions would be adequate, and an upgrade from our existing 44lb Delta. Our boat is also weight-sensitive, so we don’t want to load the front of the boat up with more anchor weight than needed.

After hours of research, it was clear to us that the Mantus slightly won out over the Rocna in terms of performance; however, this is not the only consideration. The Rocna provided a few things which Mantus could not. First was they offered a size in between the larger 85lb max size and the smaller 55lb, a 33kg or 73lb anchor was, we felt, the optimal power to weight ratio for our boat and usage. We kept coming back to this “tweener” size over and over. Second, the Rocna’s shape was better suited to our existing Lewmar Delta type bow roller and windlass configuration. Lastly, and perhaps the icing on the cake, the Rocna 33kg was on sale on Amazon, with free Prime 2-day shipping. We got to eat our cake too. Amazon allowed us to use some leftover American Express points to pay for part of our purchase, making our total to-the-boat price of the Rocna 549.00 dollars. Much more cost-effective versus approximately 1300.00 dollars the Mantus would cost us.

Installation was easy. We just let out the chain and landed the current anchor on the dock, switched out to the Rocna with a new shackle, and reeled her back in. We had to slightly adjust the roller position a few times before we had a perfect fit. All in all, it took us about 15 minutes to switch anchors. We now have a 73lb Rocna always ready to deploy in our bow roller on all chain. To add to our arsenal, and to protect our windlass, we also built a snubber system for our primary Rocna/chain setup. The snubber consists of 30 feet of 5/8 inch 8 strand nylon line, spliced around a thimble, connected to a chain hook. The line runs back, through polyester chafe protectors, utilizing our port an starboard bow chocks to the main mooring cleats. We can extend this line back to our primary winches in extreme conditions. We kept our Delta, now stored in the stern, ready to deploy on 50ft of chain spliced to 200 feet of 5/8 nylon rode. Our backup Danforth is kept secured in the bow locker. We have another 225 feet of 5/8 New England Ropes nylon three-strand rode on board in case we need to anchor deeper than 60ft of water, deploy more scope, or use with the Danforth in an emergency.

So how does it work? Our first test was a challenging one, rolling anchorages in Bunkers Harbor and Roque Island Harbor, Downeast. Both times the anchor set the first time. Bunkers Harbor was small and with limited swing room. It was only us, and we were the only sailboat in a real Downeast lobster fishing village. We backed it down under 2000 RPMs with our 76hp Yanmar Turbo Diesel, with no slipping or dragging. We left the boat and went to the towns only restaurant in an old house. We returned, and the boat didn’t move an inch. Later that night and through the morning, the swell increased significantly. We were rolling 20 degrees at times in ocean swell which was breaking over the ledges protecting the entrance. Once again, no movement. When we brought up the anchor to leave, it was covered with sandy mud and a bit of kelp, showing that it dug deep. At Roque Island, we experienced a similar situation, ocean rollers penetrating the harbor at high tide. We had plenty of swing room in all directions but were close enough to the beach to fall asleep to the sounds of crashing waves. This time we left the boat for a two-mile paddle fest, lunch, and exploration trip to the outer islands. We returned four hours later, watched the wind shift and build, and the boat pivoted through 90 degrees on the anchor with no issues.

As I type, we have been sitting at anchor in Somes Harbor (MDI, Maine) for just over 48 hours. The tide has switched directions over and over, and we have gone through a 180-degree wind switch. There have been no anchor alarms, no stress, and a good nights sleep. All in all, we should have spent the money on a new generation anchor earlier. We are now confident we can ride out a stormy night at anchor without much fuss. We will likely have a more significant test, as hurricane Dorian is currently battering the Bahamas and is likely to turn its way North in the next day or so. We may get the chance to test our setup in stronger winds later this week.


  • Nancy Gladieux
    Posted at 19:10h, 03 September

    Hey Curt,
    Even though all all Greek to me, it seems you did your homework. I’m glad the anchor is meeting your needs. I checked NOAA today, as I’m sure you have. You guys are tucked into a nice place and sheltered with the terrain there. Stay safe