Latest News: Forums Cruising Anchor set-up recommendations

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    One of my winter jobs is to review my current anchor, chain and warp set up, so I thought the starting point would be to canvass opinions from cruisers on the forum. If anyone would care to list what anchor / chain / warp (types, weights, diameters) etc they use and maybe offer any comments as to what conditions they’ve been used in and how successfully, it would be much appreciated.



    I have been using an Aluminium Fortress anchor for the past ten years or so. It has 5 meters of 6mm chain and 25 meters of warp. The warp is 8 mm three strand nylon. This sort of nylon rope stretches up to 20% and damps the pitching of the boat quite well. Then there is an anchor drum mounted on an extended mast pivot pin. It allows me to set the anchor quickly. Getting the warp back on the drum is a nuisance but I never have an entangled warp when I need the anchor. After all, an anchor is a safety device that has to be at the ready at all times.

    The anchor itself is stowed on the floorboard as far forward as possible as to allow the crew maximum space. The anchor lies in a cradle made of three small hardwood blocks. The pointy bits go inside two of these blocks. The third block locks the shank in place with the help of a bungee cord. The bungee allows me to unlock the anchor quickly from its cradle while it keeps the anchor firmly in place while sailing. The drum is locked with a small SS hook that goes in the chain. The hook is fixed to the aft side of the foredeck by a short piece of 3 mm rope. Setting the anchor involves unhooking the chain and lifting the anchor from its cradle by moving a bungee aside. This takes only a second or two, then the anchor is ready to go.

    There is an Aluminium open fairlead at the bow where I put the anchor warp in if I intend to spend some time at anchor. The hands of such a fairlead must overlap enough to ensure the warp does not “jump” out in a chop. Note that that there are starboard and port style open fairleads. Using the wrong type on the wrong side allows the warp to escape. If you are not sure, lead some tensioned rope through the fairlead before fixing it and imagine what happens if the rope goes up. Is it held back by the hands? The opening is supposed to be more or less square to the direction of the rope so that you need to turn the warp 90 degrees to get it in or out.

    A big Aluminium cleat on the side of the tabernacle has a number of uses. It is a firm spot to attach a towing line or the anchor warp but it is also used for anything else that needs a reliable, strong fixing point. And it is also a handy hook to stow my halyards.

    Finally, I use black warp, its looks much better then a white one after it has been in the mud for a while 😉 .


    Little to add to this as I haven’t really used my anchor in anger yet, but I do carry a setup for safety’s sake.
    I have a 3kg Manson Supreme which lives in a bucket along with 5m of 8mm chain. In my MkI this bucket sits forward of the floorboards and is nice and out of the way, just beside the mast. I’ve tried dragging this anchor through wet sand and so long as the pull is horizontal you cannot shift it- quite impressive.
    My warp is a 50m length of 10mm nylon 3-strand, which lives flaked into a second bucket. This gets used as a towing warp as well. It will pay out perfectly but I envy those who use a mast-pin drum, as flaking it back into the bucket is a pain.



    On my recent cruise on the West Coast I carried two anchors. The first is a 2.5kg Sentinel with about 3-5m of chain and a hawser laid warp of about 30m. The second is a bruce type, again of 2.5kg, this time with a braided rope warp of about 30m that has a lead core for the first 10m.

    Both anchors had their use this year. The Sentinel was better at holding in hard sand (on or below the water line) the bruce was good in the mud and easier to clean on recovery. Neither held well in the soft drier sand up on the beach on Coll. When it came to placing an anchor onto a stony beach the sentinel was slightly easier to secure with the rocks and the chain meant the rocks would not chafe the bottom end of the warp. However although the chain does lie better on the bottom, providing the horizontal pull you need with an anchor, I dislike the clunkiness and difficulty of handling it in the boat, especially on recovery and the extra dirt it brings in.

    The leaded warp is quieter and much easier and neater to handle, although you need to lay a bit more line than with the chain.

    Of the two warps the nylon hawser laid warp provides a better element of stretch that reduces the abrupt tugs if there is a swell.

    As to stowage. I put each anchor into a plastic box, complete with its chain/warp. The box lids are fixed with an elastic loop at one end and a quick release clip at the other providing easy access. The photo shows the clear box with the sentinel anchor (a hole in the side aids putting the anchor bar in) and the green box has the bruce and leaded warp. The bruce being slightly smaller fits better and more neatly into a box.

    [attachment=0:3jcm3sag]anchor boxes 2.JPG[/attachment:3jcm3sag]

    This means the anchors can be stowed away if dirty without getting the dirt on everything else and it keeps the boat clean and tidy. I stow the boxes, one on each side, under the foredeck (I have a World) by the use of heavy duty Velcro. This allows me to lift the boxes out for use when required (a good heave suffices) but keeps them secure when sailing. It is easy to re-stow them by simply putting the box back into its place on the Velcro pads. I believe the Velcro (with a patch in each corner of the box) is strong enough to keep the boxes in place in the event of a capsize, although I have not trialled it.

    My World has a closed fairlead at the bow (very annoying) so I use a heavy duty carabiner as the fairlead which I clip onto the bow fairlead when required. I cleat the warp onto the tabernacle cleat, often going round the mast first with a large bight. Thus when it comes to re-stow it is all just coiled into the bottom of the box.

    I am glad I have both types, as each has their use and there were occasions when two anchors made life much easier. If I had to take one only I would probably take the sentinel with chain and warp.


    Many thanks for the replies, lots of info there and food for thought. Upgrading my warp is definitely now my priority – does anyone have a preference/recommendation as to whether the warp is best permanently spliced onto the chain (presumably more secure) or shackled on via an eyesplice (more versatile if required for other purposes)?


    Bob Harland

    Our warp is shackled on – there is an eye splice with a hard plastic eye in the warp. Galvanised shackle which after a season is never going to undo.
    I have seen some boats where the warp is regularly shackled/unshackled from the chain – but personally on such a setup I would be worried about it coming undone at the wrong time.

    hope that helps


    I always carry two anchors. A 5lb plough up front, with a few metres of chain and a lot of metres of 6mm nylon shackled to the chain. “out back” its a smaller danforth with less of everything. This makes a great all round set up for whatever I’ve needed if for. I wouldnt be without a kedge…

    Anyway, perhaps less common is my arrangements for fairleads – I’ll take a photo if anyone is interested enough – I have the rode running through 18″ of flexible pipe, in the middle of the run of pipe is a snap-shackle, fixed to the pipe. The pipe is “snapped” onto deck eyes when the anchor is in use, and kept in the bucket when not. No shafe, quick to deploy and the rode cant come out of the fairlead (as I worry it might with an open fairlead).

    Bitter ends come out of the bottom of the rode buckets to deck eyes on the fore and aft bulkheads…





    Thanks for your comments, yes a picture or two would be very interesting as and when you have chance. I see that’s your first post, so welcome to the forum!



    Thanks Jonathan
    Sorry it took so long, here are (hopefully!) a few photos.

    Seasons greetings!


    [attachment=2:32vqu9yy]DSCF1292 (1014 x 760).jpg[/attachment:32vqu9yy]
    [attachment=1:32vqu9yy]DSCF1293 (1014 x 760).jpg[/attachment:32vqu9yy]
    [attachment=0:32vqu9yy]DSCF1296 (1014 x 760).jpg[/attachment:32vqu9yy]


    and finally…

    [attachment=0:2phlyyam]DSCF1295 (1014 x 760).jpg[/attachment:2phlyyam]


    Many thanks for posting the pictures Steve. I’ve not had any issue with the anchor warp coming out of my (open) fairleads but my existing set up has only been used for short lunch stops where it wouldn’t be as critical as if you were overnighting at anchor. You mention you use 6mm nylon – you find it ok from a handling point of view when retrieving the anchor?



    Hi Jonathan
    6mm is a bit thin to be honest – it doesnt take so much space but it is a bit stretchy and rather thin when hauling in. I always have the outboard on to avoid having to pull the boat along too much….

    I was also thinking – my anchor setup works well in north Norfolk where it is very often hard sand, I wonder if a bigger bow anchor would be useful in softer mud…



    Where did you get the very useful looking bag on the front of the rear tank Steve, It’s just what I need as I never have anywhere to put my Mars Bar or water bottle.


    Dave Barker

    I’ve just noticed Steve’s comment about anchoring in soft mud. Mud offers some of the best holding for an anchor – the only problem is likely to be recovering it afterwards if it’s really well set. I would be more anxious about holding in shingle.

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