Anchors Aweigh!

What kind of anchors come with the boat you’re looking to buy?  Those long lists of equipment included in the sale aren’t usually very descriptive—at least in anchoring terms.  We expect every boat to have one, and two would be better, but does it really matter?

Plow anchors with hinged shafts are designed to stay set in shifting winds and currents. Due to the weight it is most easily deployed from a bow roller.

The answer depends on what you plan to do with your boat.

Pivoting shank or Danforth type aluminum anchors are lightweight and work best in sand.

The whole purpose of an anchor is to stop or hold your boat in a fixed position. Anchoring effectively can mean a relaxed swim, a quiet spot to fish, a romp on the beach, or just an inexpensive stop-over in a free anchorage area. In an emergency it could save your boat, and maybe your life, from being dashed on the rocks.

Anchors aren’t prohibitively expensive unless you don’t have one when you need it.  Having two or three different types of anchors onboard in anticipation of different conditions is not unreasonable.

Folding grapnel anchors are easy to stow and work well in rocky areas.

There are dozens of different types of anchors: fixed shank, plow, grapnel, navy fluke, etc—and variations on each type; you can get a plow anchor with a fixed or hinged shank.  The kind of anchor you have onboard should be tailored to the size of your vessel and dictated by the kind of bottom—sand, mud, or rock.  Pivoting shank or Danforth type anchors are preferable when anchoring in sand or mud, while grapnel type anchors are better for rocky areas.  Plow anchors have great holding capacity. There are even specialty anchors for beaching your boat.

Navy Fluke anchors are typically heavier and used on larger vessels

Setting and retrieving anchors is a seamanship skill that many boaters don’t practice often enough, since it is easier to tie up to a dock or pick up a mooring. Anchoring out can be cheaper and quieter. And when you really need to drop the anchor, the conditions may not be ideal.

So as you peruse the equipment lists of the boats you are considering  buying, pay close attention to the kind, number, and size of included anchors—and how they are secured. Envision how you plan to use the boat and determine if the anchors included in the sale are adequate for your purposes.

Specialty anchors can help with beaching.

Here are a few tips on anchors and anchoring;

  • Always carry a spare anchor (I like the folding type for spares)
  • Stow your anchor securely  in a place that you can deploy it quickly if needed
  • Specialty anchors can be helpful for beaching your boat
  • Mark your anchor line with depth markers (6 feet of scope for every foot of water depth is the general rule)
  • Use a “Trip line” when anchoring in rocky areas to help retrieve a fouled anchor
  • Wash the ooze off your anchor and rode before bringing it back aboard
  • Use the right type of anchor for the holding ground

Now you know why you want to check the equipment list.


  1. As a dealer, I can say for my self and my customers that most buyers are coming out of another boat and have their safety equipment. Once a boat owner/operator has used their boat a little and used their equipment they usually tend to find out really quickly what they want in that particular boat and two boat owners with the same boat can end up with several different equipment even for the same uses. I don’t price any of my boats with safety equipment for those reasons.

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