The Storm Anchoring Techniques

Proper storm anchoring techniques are essential for ensuring the safety of your boat and family during a storm while sailing the open seas.

Sailing the open seas is an exhilarating and fulfilling experience, but it also comes with its fair share of challenges. One of the most significant challenges that sailors face is dealing with storms. Proper storm tactics and preparation are essential for ensuring the safety of your boat and your family. In this article, we will discuss storm anchoring techniques, which are crucial for keeping your boat secure during a storm.

Table of Contents

Understanding storm anchoring, types of anchors, anchor rode selection, setting the anchor, scope and chafe protection, multiple anchors, storm anchor retrieval.

Storm anchoring is the process of securing your boat to the seabed using an anchor and rode (the line or chain connecting the anchor to the boat) to prevent it from drifting or being pushed ashore during a storm. The primary goal of storm anchoring is to keep your boat in a safe position, minimizing the risk of damage or injury.

When selecting an anchorage, consider the following factors:

  • Protection : Choose a location that offers protection from the wind and waves. This may include natural features such as headlands, islands, or reefs, or man-made structures like breakwaters or marinas.
  • Holding Ground : The seabed should provide good holding for your anchor. Sand, mud, and clay are generally considered the best holding grounds, while rock, coral, and grass are less reliable.
  • Swing Room : Ensure there is enough space for your boat to swing around the anchor without colliding with other boats or obstacles.
  • Depth : The water should be deep enough to accommodate your boat’s draft and allow for a sufficient scope (the ratio of rode length to water depth).

There are several types of anchors available, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. The most common types of anchors used for storm anchoring include:

CQR (Plow) Anchor : This anchor has a hinged shank and plow-shaped fluke, which allows it to dig into the seabed and provide excellent holding power. It is suitable for a variety of bottom conditions, including sand, mud, and clay.

Delta Anchor : Similar to the CQR anchor, the Delta anchor has a fixed shank and a concave fluke, which provides even better holding power in soft bottoms. It is also effective in harder bottoms, such as rock and coral.

Bruce (Claw) Anchor : This anchor has a three-pronged design that provides good holding power in most bottom conditions, although it may struggle in very soft mud. It is also less likely to foul on underwater obstacles.

Danforth (Fluke) Anchor : This lightweight anchor has a large surface area, making it ideal for soft bottoms like sand and mud. However, it may not perform as well in harder bottoms or areas with heavy grass or seaweed.

When choosing an anchor for storm anchoring, it is essential to select one that is appropriately sized for your boat. A general rule of thumb is to use an anchor that weighs 1 pound for every foot of boat length. However, this may vary depending on the specific anchor type and the conditions in which it will be used.

The anchor rode is the line or chain that connects your boat to the anchor. There are two primary types of anchor rode: chain and rope. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages.

Chain Rode : Chain rode is heavy and durable, providing excellent abrasion resistance and helping to keep the anchor shank low to the seabed, which improves holding power. However, chain rode is more expensive and requires a windlass (a mechanical device used to raise and lower the anchor) for handling.

Rope Rode : Rope rode is lighter and more affordable than chain rode, making it easier to handle without a windlass. However, rope rode is more susceptible to chafe and abrasion, which can weaken it over time.

For storm anchoring, it is recommended to use a combination of chain and rope rode. The chain portion should be at least the length of your boat, while the rope portion should be long enough to provide the necessary scope.

Properly setting the anchor is crucial for ensuring that it holds during a storm. Follow these steps to set your anchor:

  • Approach the anchorage slowly, heading into the wind or current.
  • When you reach the desired location, lower the anchor to the seabed while maintaining forward momentum. This will help the anchor dig into the bottom.
  • Once the anchor is on the bottom, slowly reverse your boat while paying out the rode. This will help the anchor to set and bury itself in the seabed.
  • When you have reached the desired scope, secure the rode to a cleat or anchor roller on your boat.
  • Gently back down on the anchor using your engine to ensure that it is set and holding. If the anchor drags, repeat the process.

The scope is the ratio of rode length to water depth and is a critical factor in ensuring that your anchor holds during a storm. A general rule of thumb is to use a scope of 7:1 for storm anchoring, meaning that for every foot of water depth, you should have 7 feet of rode deployed.

Chafe protection is essential for preventing damage to your rode during a storm. Chafe can occur when the rode rubs against the boat’s bow, anchor roller, or other obstacles. To protect your rode, use chafe guards or hose sections to cover the areas where chafe is likely to occur.

In some situations, it may be necessary to deploy multiple anchors to provide additional holding power or to prevent your boat from swinging into obstacles. There are several methods for setting multiple anchors, including:

  • Bahamian Moor : This technique involves setting two anchors in a line, with one anchor set directly upwind of the other. This can help to limit the boat’s swing and provide additional holding power.
  • V-Formation : This method involves setting two anchors at a 45-degree angle from the bow, creating a V-shape. This can help to prevent the boat from swinging side-to-side during a storm.
  • Tandem Anchoring : This technique involves attaching a second anchor to the rode of the primary anchor, effectively creating a chain of anchors. This can provide additional holding power in extreme conditions.

After the storm has passed, it is essential to retrieve your anchor(s) carefully to avoid damage to your boat or the anchor itself. Follow these steps to retrieve your anchor:

  • Approach the anchor slowly, heading into the wind or current.
  • Use a windlass or manual effort to raise the anchor rode until it is vertical.
  • If the anchor is stuck, try using your boat’s engine to gently pull it free. Be cautious not to put too much strain on the rode or anchor.
  • Once the anchor is free, raise it to the surface and secure it to your boat.

Storm anchoring is a critical skill for sailors who want to ensure the safety of their boat and family during a storm. By selecting the appropriate anchor and rode, setting the anchor correctly, and using proper scope and chafe protection, you can significantly increase the chances of your boat remaining secure during a storm. Additionally, understanding how to deploy multiple anchors and retrieve them safely after the storm has passed is essential for successful storm anchoring.

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Skip Novak’s Storm Sailing Techniques Part 8: drogues and sea anchors

  • September 16, 2014

Skip Novak has sailed in some ferocious weather, but is no fan of drogues and sea anchors. Others would not sail without them. We take up the debate

sailboat storm anchor

Beware using primary winches to deploy a drogue – a bad lead can lay waste to gear

Ask about a controversial subject within the cruising community and, if not immediately, surely soon after you will get a heated debate about the pros and cons of drogues and sea anchors.

If you Google the subject, prepare to get comfortable for a few hours as you follow the debate online. The most amazing thing, you soon realise, is that so many people have an opinion about a piece of heavy weather gear that they have never actually used in anger.

This is all about storm survival when tactics such as lying ahull, heaving to and sailing on cannot be considered. The approach is either to deploy a sea anchor to try to keep the bow into the sea and hold position, or to run with the wind trailing tackle astern to slow the boat down.

The variables in the discussion are complex: which type of sea anchor and drogue (both homemade and proprietary), when to deploy it, the type of boat itself and how it would react, the sea conditions and attachment points on board, and deployment and retrieval methods.

But before I get carried away with this lecture, I have to admit to something: I have never tried a sea anchor nor a drogue. If I have to stop the boat for any reason in heavy weather (and I often have), I would heave to or even lie ahull, or simply run before the storm and hang in there given enough sea room.

I have been in some pretty ferocious seas running downwind, but mainly while racing at speed with a crew, and on bigger rather than smaller craft. My expedition vessels Pelagic and Pelagic Australis are heavy boats and in all these years I have never felt threatened enough to resort to methods that involve deploying gear over the side.

One storm I remember particularly well (there have been so many) occured while en route back from South Georgia on Pelagic in 2002. Only 100 miles out of Port Stanley in the Falklands we got hit by a violent Force 10 westerly that lasted for 20 hours.

We simply hove to and rode it out. Sure, we were rolled onto our beam ends now and then, but we were fairly comfortable. If we had been going downwind, I would have turned the boat around and done the same. The thought of deploying tackle over the side while running at speed in those conditions makes my hair stand on end.

For smaller boats and those sailing single- or short-handed, however, using a sea anchor or drogue might be an interesting, possibly lifesaving procedure. But it is one that must be practised, so that when you do it for real everything is spot on. In my case, on medium to larger craft (say, above the 50ft range), I consider the idea not worth the risk – and the risk can be high.

If you were sailing short-handed in heavy weather, setting out a drogue could be very dangerous

If you were sailing short-handed in heavy weather, setting out a drogue could be very dangerous

Sea anchors or drogues require you to deploy a substantial amount of tackle overboard at the height of a gale or storm. Anyone who has lost a sheet or piece of running rigging overboard knows the alarming rate at which it is sucked over the side. The force on a single line immediately becomes enormous and usually requires a winch to retrieve it. Now imagine the forces involved in a more complex tackle with harness, cones and weights – it becomes a potentially lethal piece of equipment.

Most yachts are ill-equipped to make this gear fast and less so to retrieve it, even when the weather softens to the point where you can sail on. Cleats are usually inadequate in strength and size, so it would be better to go straight to cockpit winches.

But beware a bad lead because the line can easily lay waste to stanchions, pushpits and more. A tangle is always possible and any human limb or appendage in the mix could spell disaster. Have a knife to hand!

The US Coast Guard has made an exhaustive study of the merits of two popular systems, the parachute anchor and the series drogue. It is published online and is worth reading: see here . The striking thing about its recommendations is the amount of tackle required to make it effective. I rest my case about why I don’t use them.

Instead, I will leave the first-hand reports to those sailors who have used drogues or planned to use them ( see our stories by Jeanne Socrates and Roger Taylor on using a Jordan Series Drogue ).

Using drogues – do they work?

Skip Novak’s view is clear: although drogues could be a lifesaver on small boats of, say, less than 50ft, he would feel nervous about deploying the gear on bigger, heavier vessels. For smaller yachts, however, there is anecdotal evidence that series drogues, in particular, are valuable. Drogues might also have value on light-displacement boats that won’t heave to or are running downwind under bare poles near wave-speed.

The detailed independent report by the US Coast Guard that Skip mentions above sought to address the pros and cons, and concluded that the best possible option may be the series drogue, in which a series of small drogues are streamed astern through several wavetrains.

The report notes ‘that most storms, even severe storms, do not create dangerous breaking waves. Sailors who survive such storms may conclude that the tactics they employ, such as heaving to, lying ahull or running off, are adequate to prevent capsize.

‘This is a serious mistake. There is very compelling evidence to show that while a well-found boat will survive a storm in non-breaking waves, none of the above tactics will prevent capsize in a breaking wave strike.’

Types of drogues

by Elaine Bunting

Parachute anchors help a yacht hold station, but produce hazards of their own

Parachute anchors help a yacht hold station, but produce hazards of their own

Parachute anchors

The US Coast Guard report raises some serious issues about these types of drogues streamed from the bow. It ‘questions the veracity’ of claims that they offer bulletproof protection in storm survival conditions.

They may help a boat hold station in moderate weather, it says, but when a wave hits the bow the boat can be shunted astern, potentially causing damage to the rudder, breaking the line, rolling the boat or forcing water through the exhaust system and into the engine.

The report also notes that ‘in the trough of a wave/swell [when] the para anchor rode goes slack, the yacht will commence to yaw, wanting to lie ahull, thereby leaving it partially or totally beam to the sea with the possibility of being knocked flat or rolled.’

Series drogues

This is the type of drogue that the report found the most effective. Though not named specifically in the report, the best known of these types is the Jordan Series Drogue.

It comprises a series of small drogues connected into a long series and deployed astern. The number of these will depend on the displacement of the yacht – typically, as many as 90 or 100 cones may be needed in series – and ideally the drogue needs to be made up and coiled ready to deploy from points at the stern that are strong enough for the very considerable loads. Additional chainplates may be needed.

The report concludes that ‘a series-type drogue provides significant advantages over a cone or parachute type drogue/sea anchor… Since some of the cones are near the boat where towline stretch is low, [the drogue] will build up load faster than a conventional cone or chute at the end of the towline/bowline.

The series drogue got the nod in a US Coast Guard report

The series drogue got the nod in a US Coast Guard report

‘A computer study shows that two seconds after wave strike, the series drogue will develop 40 per cent more load than an equivalent cone or chute.’

It notes that another advantage is that if one or even several cones are damaged, the whole drogue is not rendered totally ineffective.

If and when a drogue is working effectively, no action is required of the crew, who can simply go below, put the companionway boards in, make all items secure and try to get some rest.

However, it should be pointed out that even proponents of the series drogue, such as small-boat solo sailor Roger Taylor, who has used a Jordan Series Drogue on several occasions while voyaging in his 21-footer Mingming , say sufficiently strong attachment points are necessary and that the drogue must be conveniently stowed and arranged for immediate deployment.

But one of the main points of this report, which Skip Novak also makes, is that you need the right equipment, attachments and anti-chafe gear all set up and ready to go reasonably quickly and easily, and ideally you need to have practised using the drogue well in advance.

Part 9: sounding an uncharted bay

Going off soundings to uncharted areas is a desirable part of cruising and enables you to gain shelter on a hostile coastline, possibly saving vessel and crew. Skip explains the techniques

12-part series in association with Pantaenius


7 Best Sailboat Anchors

7 Best Sailboat Anchors | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Daniel Wade

June 15, 2022

As long as it's the right one, your sailboat anchor is the best insurance you'll ever buy.

The right sailboat anchor will depend on the type and size of your sailboat, your planned area of sailing, and the weather conditions that you expect to encounter. So there are no shortcuts but to choose the best sailboat anchors based on these factors.

Anchoring, at its core, is all about securely fastening your sailboat using the best sailboat anchor so that it doesn't float away when the winds or tides start shifting.

And whether you're planning for a day's fishing trip to your nearest lake or going for an offshore voyage, an anchor is unquestionably essential in ensuring the safety of both you and your sailboat.

A good anchor not only gives you the much-needed peace of mind but gives you the ability to securely anchor your sailboat on a nice bay, grab a quick lunch, or explore the nearby reefs.

More importantly, you'll appreciate the importance of choosing the best sailboat anchor for your boat when you have to ride out a storm.

There are lots of excellent sailboat anchors that are a great fit for your boat. The most important is to understand what makes a high-quality anchor so that you can make an informed choice when buying the best sailboat anchor for you and your vessel. This will depend on things like the size and type of your sailboat, where you want to sail to, and the projected weather and the type of bottom of where you'll be sailing at.

Needless to say, there are a lot of sailboat anchors out there that it can be very confusing. In this article, we'll discuss how to choose the best sailboat anchor for your boat. More importantly, we've done thorough research and review the best sailboat anchors just to make the process of choosing the best sailboat anchor for you as easy as possible.

Table of contents

How to Choose the Best Sailboat Anchor

Choosing the best sailboat anchor on various things such as the type and size of your boat, the type of bottom where you're planning to anchor your boat on, the weather conditions, and many more. For example, anchoring a 24-feet sailing boat on a muddy bottom will not be the same when using the same anchor when anchoring a 49-feet sailboat on a rocky bottom. More importantly, choosing the best sailboat is all about finding the right balance in terms of the size of your boat, the type of the bottom where you're sailing at, the climate conditions, and the amount of time that you're planning to be anchored.

Here is what you need to consider.

The Size of Your Boat

The size of your boat will determine the type of anchor that's appropriate based on its weight and resistance. For example, a claw anchor can be great for boats measuring between 16 feet and 50 feet. In essence, having a bigger boat will require an anchor that is bigger and has more holding power. On the other hand, a smaller anchor with less holding power will be ideal for a smaller boat.

Your Anchoring Time

The holding power of your anchor can be affected by the amount of time you are planning to anchor your boat. If you're planning to anchor your boat for longer periods, it would make a lot of sense to have an anchor with high holding power. Differently, you can go with an anchor with less holding power if you're planning to anchor your boat for a few hours.

The Bottom Type

The shape and sharpness of an anchor will determine how good an anchor can hold your boat in different types of bottoms. For example, claw anchors can struggle in rocks and corals but work perfectly in sand and mud. On the contrary, grapnel types of anchors can work great in rocks but don't work in sand or mud. It all depends on the bottom type of the area you're planning to sail at. 

Anchor Material

The type of material used in manufacturing the anchor is of great importance in terms of its functionality, reliability, and durability. Most anchors are galvanized to prevent them from rust and also for a better price. However, stainless steel anchors offer better anchors in terms of quality and aesthetics.

Without further ado, let's jump straight in.

1. Lewmar Galvanized Delta Sailing Anchor

(Best for Larger Boats)

Although several modern types of sailboat anchors have taken the anchor industry by storm, some traditional anchor designs still hold their ground today and the Lewmar Galvanized Delta Sailing Anchor is one of them. It's designed with a single, sharply pointed wedge fluke that has a similar shape to a plow and really gets into the ground. It digs down and holds so secure for larger boats measuring over 21 feet.

This is a superb sailboat anchor that performs exceptionally well on most bottom types save for rocks. You'll love the fact that it holds extremely well in softer bottoms such as sand and mud. This anchor is made from high-grade manganese steel and is galvanized with a protective layer of zinc to prevent it from rusting. It's also more light than most anchors so stowing and transportation shouldn't be a problem.

Having been a hallmark anchor for many years, this anchor guarantees reliability and will hold excellently even in stormy conditions. Launching it is also easy thanks to its ballasted tip and streamlined shank and will set the first time thanks to its self-righting design.

  • ‍ Perfect for larger boats
  • Very durable
  • Approved by several National Lifeboat Associations
  • Comes with a perpetual guarantee against breakage
  • Easy to launch
  • Very secure
  • ‍ Quite expensive
  • Requires tripping line to release it from the seabed
  • Not great for rocky bottom

2. Rocna Vulcan Galvanized Anchor

(Best for Changing Weather Conditions)

As the best-selling sailboat anchor currently available in the market, it's easy to see why the Rocna Vulcan Galvanized Anchor is the most highly rated anchor by multiple independent reviewers. Built for strength and versatility, this anchor works great with a wide range of boats, which is a very unique feature. Coming in sizes ranging from 9 to 606 pounds, this anchor is so versatile and gives you the option of choosing the right size for your sailboat.

This remains the most dependable anchor in the market, especially in the roughest of conditions. It holds all types of the seabed so fast and has a roll bar that's crucial in ensuring that your boat's weight is not only distributed appropriately but the boat sets at the right angle. Its Vulcan design and sharp tip allow it to snug fit on the bow and to get right into the seabed respectively.

This is an anchor that draws the best features from traditional sailboat anchors such as spade and bagel anchors to become one of the best modern sailboat anchors out there.

  • ‍ Perfect for stormy conditions
  • Great for all types of seabed
  • Very versatile and available in a wide range of sizes
  • Perfect for all types of boats
  • It has an easy storage design
  • It's designed by a well-known brand
  • ‍ Very expensive
  • ‍ Its shank is only perfect for  bigger flukes

3. Manson Galvanized Supreme Sailing Anchor

(The Fastest Setting and Highest Holding Anchor)

If you're looking to purchase the best sailboat anchor from a well-established brand, look no further than the Manson Galvanized Supreme Sailing Anchor. This anchor has been in the market for the better part of the last two decades and still holds its ground as one of the best sailboat anchors out there. The fact that it is perfect for all types of seabed makes it a great option for sailors who are on a budget.

This sailboat anchor has an indisputable reputation all over the world as the fastest setting and highest holding anchor. This is because it's uniquely designed for extreme holding conditions thanks to its standard bow rollers and a dual operation shank that's designed with the utmost versatility in mind. Whether you're looking to anchor in mud, sand, or rocky areas, this anchor will never disappoint you.

  • ‍ It has an extremely high holding power
  • It's the fastest setting anchor in the market
  • It's perfect for all types of seabed including rocky areas
  • Its safety is guaranteed as it has passed multiple tests
  • It's very durable
  • Designed for extreme weather conditions
  • ‍ It's heavy, which can bring difficulties in stowing and transportation
  • Very expensive

4. Danforth S-600 Standard Sailing Anchor

(Best for Smaller Boats)

At this point, you shouldn't have any doubt that some of the more traditional types of anchors still have a place in the anchor industry today. The Danforth S-600 Standard Sailing Anchor is a traditional fluke anchor that's extremely perfect for smaller boats but can also be used as a secondary anchor for larger boats. Having been developed in the US back in the 1940s, this type of anchor is similar to the modern CQR anchor and doesn't compromise on quality and reliability even in rough weather conditions.

It's lighter than most anchors, so stowing or transporting it shouldn't be a problem. In terms of its holding power, it has an excellent power-to-weight ratio and can hold quite fast in sand and mud. The fact that it is a fluke type of anchor makes it not perfect for coral, rock, or gravel bottoms.

  • ‍ Perfect for smaller boats
  • It's good for sandy and muddy substrates
  • Lightweight and compact
  • Has a holding power of about 600 pounds
  • Constructed with high-strength galvanized steel
  • Quite affordable 
  • ‍ Not ideal for rock, coral, or gravel substrates
  • Can only be used as a secondary anchor on larger boats (over 27 feet)
  • It has moving parts

5. Lewmar Claw Anchor

(Best for All Types of Seabed)

If you're looking for the best sailboat anchor that will serve you perfectly in all types of substrates, the Lewmar Claw Anchor can be an ideal choice. Previously known as the Bruce or Claw type anchor, this anchor has a three-pronged design that enables it to easily set in any bottom. It doesn't matter whether you want to anchor in an area with mud, sand, rock, coral, gravel, or grassy bottom, this anchor will hold its ground.

It can be a great option if you're on a tight budget and want to buy an anchor that doesn't have a complete design while going about its duty quietly. It's so versatile thanks to the fact that it's available in sizes ranging from 4.4 pounds to 44 pounds. What's more; it's made from high-grade steel and it's very durable. If anything, it draws inspiration from the anchors used in securing oil rigs in the North Sea. 

  • ‍ Excellent for all types of substrates
  • It's very versatile
  • It's durable
  • It's very affordable
  • ‍ Its odd shape makes it difficult to stow

6. Mantus Galvanized Sailing Anchor

(Perfect for Dense Grassy Bottoms)

The level of functionality that the Mantus Galvanized Sailing Anchor brings to the table is unmatched. This is an anchor that offers unparalleled holding power as it can dig a lot deeper than most anchors out there.

It's strongly built but can come apart to make it a lot easy to store and transport. Its sharp-headed nose gives it maximum penetration power, though it may not hold quite well in low viscosity sea beds. This anchor is highly dependable yet very expensive so it might not be an ideal option if you're on a budget. So if functionality is your top priority when going to an area with dense grassy bottoms, it can be your ideal option. 

  • ‍ Very functional and dependable
  • Perfect for dense grassy bottoms
  • Easy to store and transport
  • Made from high-quality steel
  • Comes with a lifetime warranty against breakage
  • ‍ It has moving parts
  • It's very expensive

7. Norestar Stainless Steel Delta/Wing Boat Sailing Anchor

(Highest Quality Anchor)

One of the most important things when in the market for a good sailboat anchor is quality. Well, the Norestar doesn't disappoint on this front as it's manufactured using the highest quality stainless steel. This stainless steel is strengthened with micron thick PVD coating that gives it a highly urbane appearance.

Its design is also one of the most popular anchoring systems in the maritime industry today. This is because it offers impeccable security and gives you the peace of mind knowing that your boat is safe at all times.

  • ‍ It is self-launching
  • Made from the highest quality stainless steel
  • It sets easily
  • Perfect for most bottoms
  • It's lightweight and has no moving parts
  • ‍ Not ideal for bottoms with hard sand
  • Quite expensive

There you have it; these are the best sailboat anchors in the market. An anchor is one of the most crucial parts of safe sailing. Whether you're looking to moor at the harbor or to explore far-reaching areas in the water, a good anchor is your number safety and insurance while on the water.

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I've personally had thousands of questions about sailing and sailboats over the years. As I learn and experience sailing, and the community, I share the answers that work and make sense to me, here on Life of Sailing.

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Storm Tactics for Heavy Weather Sailing

  • By Bill Gladstone
  • Updated: November 15, 2021

sailing conditions

Storm tactics can be roughly defined as the ways to handle a storm once you’re in it. There are several proven choices, all of which intend to keep either the bow or stern pointing toward the waves. No one tactic will work best for all sailboats in all conditions. As skipper, it will be up to you to consider the best approach for your vessel, procure the right equipment, and practice with it before it’s needed.

Here we look at some active storm options that might work when conditions are still manageable and you want to actively control and steer the boat. Crew fatigue is a serious consideration when using active tactics.


Although not often mentioned as a tactic, it can be highly effective for combating brief squalls or moderate-duration storms. Here’s how to set up your boat for forereaching: Roll the jib away (especially if you have a large roller-furler genoa set); reef the main down to the second or third reef position; and sail on a closehauled course, concentrating on keeping the boat flat. It will be a comfortable ride, everyone will be relatively happy, and you will be making 2 to 3 knots on a close reach. Check your course over ground because increased leeway will cause your track to be much lower. This is a possibly useful tactic to claw off a lee shore. Note that not all boats will be at ease forereaching, so you’d better experiment with it ahead of time. Catamarans in particular will lurch and demonstrate much-increased leeway.


Sometimes it’s necessary from a time or safety perspective to stow the jib and fire up the iron genny instead. Motorsailing lets you point high and make progress to windward. Motoring with no sails will not work well (or at all, in some cases), particularly in big seas, but a reefed mainsail will provide lateral stability and extra power. Trim the main, head up high enough to control your angle of heel, set the autopilot, and keep a lookout. Fuel consumption makes this a short-term option.

Here’s a tip: Make sure cooling water is pumping through the engine. On some sailboats, the water intake lifts out of the water when heeled. A further difficulty is that the pitching boat might stir sediment off the bottom of the fuel tank, which can, in turn, clog the fuel filter.

Running off and drogues

Sailing under storm jib and a deeply reefed mainsail or storm trysail provides the most control. If you don’t have storm sails, a reefed jib will give you the power to steer and control your boat in the waves. The boat must be steered actively to maintain control because no autopilot will be able to do this.

If excessive speed is a problem and steering becomes difficult, towing a drogue will slow the boat. A retrieval line should be set from the head of the drogue for when it is time to bring it back on board. If you don’t have a drogue, trailing warps might help slow the boat.

In a storm of longer duration, or when conditions become otherwise unmanageable, the situation might call for a skipper to consider passive storm tactics. When you are exhausted and you just want to quiet down the boat and maybe get some rest, there are other boathandling options available, depending on the sea state and the ­equipment you have onboard.

Heaving to can be an excellent heavy-weather tactic, though some boats fare better than others. Wouldn’t it be great if during a heavy-weather episode you could just slow everything way down? Imagine a short respite with a reduced amount of motion from the relentless pitching and pounding. A chance to regroup, make a meal, or check over the boat. Well, you can.

Heaving to allows you to “park” in open water. Hove-to trim has the jib trimmed aback (that is, to the wrong side), the reefed main eased, and the helm lashed down to leeward. The easiest way to do this is to trim the jib sheet hard and then tack the boat, leaving the sheet in place. Trimmed this way, the jib pushes the bow down. As the bow turns off the wind, the main fills and the boat moves forward. With the helm lashed down, the rudder turns the boat toward the wind. As the main goes soft, the jib once again takes over, pushing the bow down. The main refills, and the rudder pushes the bow into the wind again.

RELATED: Safety at Sea: Mental Preparations Contribute to Positive Outcomes

Achieving this balance will require some fine-­tuning, depending on the wind strength, your boat design and the sails you have. You might, for example, need to furl the jib most of the way in to match the wind strength. Trimming the main will ensure that the bow is at an angle to the waves, ideally pointing 40 to 60 degrees off. Modern fin-keeled boats do not heave to as well as more-traditional full-keel designs.

When hove to, the boat won’t actually stop. It will lie, as noted, about 40 to 60 degrees off the wind, sailing at 1 or 2 knots, and making leeway (sliding to leeward). Beware of chafe. When hove to, the jib’s clew or sheet will be up against the shroud and might experience wear damage. Monitor this regularly, and change the position of the sheet occasionally. You might not want to heave to for an extended time.

Deploying a sea anchor

A sea anchor is a small parachute deployed on a line off the bow. A sea anchor helps keep the bow pointed up into the waves so the boat won’t end up beam to the seas. Light displacement boats will pitch violently in high seas, and chafe and damage might occur to the bow, so setting up a bridle and leading it aft through a snatch block will allow the boat to lie at an angle to the waves, providing a more comfortable ride. A big concern when using a sea anchor is the load on the rudder as the waves slam the boat backward. Chafe on the sea-anchor bridle is another big factor, so the bridle must be tended regularly.

take breaking waves on the stern quarter

Remember, if you and your vessel are caught out in heavy-weather conditions, as a skipper, you must show leadership by setting an example, watching over your crew, offering relief and help to those who need it, and giving encouragement. Remember too, discomfort and fear can lead to fatigue, diminished performance, and poor decision-making. Don’t compromise the safety of the boat and crew to escape discomfort.

Few people get to ­experience the full fury of a storm. Advances in weather forecasting, routing and communications greatly improve your odds of avoiding heavy weather at sea, but you’re likely to experience it at some point, so think ahead of time about the tactics and tools available to keep your crew and vessel safe.

well-set anchor

Heavy weather might not be pleasant, but it is certainly memorable, and it will make you a better sailor. Take the time to marvel at the forces of nature; realize that the boat is stronger than you think.

Happy sailing, and may all your storms be little ones!

This story is an edited excerpt from the American Sailing Association’s recently released manual, Advanced Cruising & Seamanship , by Bill Gladstone, produced in collaboration with North U. It has been edited for design purposes and style. You can find out more at

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Storm tactics at anchor: Surviving gales in Scilly

Ken Endean

  • December 15, 2021

Ken Endean shelters from Storm Evert on the Isles of Scilly and reflects on storm tactics at anchor and on moorings

Storm tactics at anchor: Storm Evert was approaching, with wind filling in from SSE - coming around the south of Bryher. Credit: Ken Endean

Storm Evert was approaching, with wind filling in from SSE - coming around the south of Bryher. Credit: Ken Endean

The Isles of Scilly are lovely but have no harbours or anchorages with all-round shelter, so visiting yachts must be prepared to move around according to wind direction.

Round Britain

Ken Endean is an inshore pilotage enthusiast who has made a close study of coastal sea conditions around the British Isles

If a gale is forecast, some pilotage guidance even recommends retreating to the mainland.

Most yacht crews ignore that advice because, after working to reach Scilly against the prevailing winds, they are reluctant to surrender their westing.

That leaves the option of finding somewhere safe to hide. And thinking about storm tactics at anchor and on moorings.

When Storm Evert hit the islands in peak holiday season in July 2021, large numbers of yachts were in the islands.

Numerous boats dragged anchors , broke free of moorings or went aground , though many more weathered the storm unscathed.

A rescue on the night of Storm Evert. Credit: Maritime and Coastguard Agency

A rescue on the night of Storm Evert. Credit: Maritime and Coastguard Agency

Piecing together the events of the night, and the possible causes of the events that unfolded, make it a fascinating case study of anchoring and mooring tactics that might help other yachts weather other storms moored and anchored.

Information has been provided by Pete Hicks, Amy Caldwell and Dickon Berriman at the RNLI, Stuart Caldwell of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, St Mary’s harbour master, Dale Clark, and marine manager for Tresco Rob Featherstone.

I’d like to extend thanks to all for their input.

When strong winds threaten, the first task is to study available forecasts and assess the likely track and timing of the associated weather feature, which will often be a depression approaching from the Atlantic .

Chart of the Isles of Scilly

Credit: Maxine Heath

If it is likely to pass to the south, or directly overhead, it could generate an east or south-east wind which then fades and backs to become a strong northerly, but which may allow boats to shift anchorage in the lull.

The timing can be important because shifting anchorage in a lull may be impossible at low tide, when many channels will be shallow or dry.

A depression tracking close to the north will generally be more serious, with winds typically rising from the S or SE before strengthening and veering round towards NW, often with a violent veer as the cold front passes.

Decisions and drama

Storm Evert hit Scilly on Thursday 29 July 2021. Until the day before, there had been a complex area of low pressure to the west and a Met Office forecast of unsettled conditions but nothing exceptional.

On the Wednesday, the 0500 Navtex bulletin predicted a maximum of Force 6 but in the 1100 bulletin, transmitted at 1420 BST, that had changed to: ‘cyclonic 6 to 8, possibly 9 for a time’, which prompted urgent activity among the many visiting boats.

The 0500 bulletin on Thursday was even more alarming, with: ‘west or south-west 3 to 5 becoming cyclonic 7 to 9, possible 10 later in far west’.

Mary and I had anchored our twin-keeled Sabre 27, London Apprentice , in the drying channel outside Bryher’s Green Bay.

As the new depression seemed likely to pass north of the islands, we expected winds to swing through the typical SE-S-NW arc but we knew the limits of that arc would be important, as we had previously experienced two comparable gales at Scilly.

Green Bay after the gale, a good anchorage for boats that can take the ground. Credit: Ken Endean

Green Bay after the gale, a good anchorage for boats that can take the ground. Credit: Ken Endean

If we anchored at Old Grimsby, close under the old blockhouse as we had in 2003, we would be protected from SE but become exposed to winds and swell if the veer went right around to NW.

In Green Bay, on the other hand, we would be exposed to wind but better protected from the NW, and in 2010 the veer towards NW had been particularly vicious.

In the end we plumped for Green Bay and moved closer inshore. During Thursday, the wind backed to SSE and stiffened before starting a very gradual veer.

At 1900 the Seven Stones Light Vessel recorded South Force 7 (steady wind speed rather than gusts).

We were exposed to increasingly vigorous wave action and at 2000 the wind reached SSW 8. A cold front was then followed by ferocious gusts and a further veer to SW.

Continues below…

Tean Sound off St Martin is sheltered from west and east but anchoring room is obstructed by moorings

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That put us in the lee of Bryher and the larger waves subsided but there were breaking crests all around us in the darkness, although we were only 80m off the beach.

At 2200 the Seven Stones recorded wind at the top end of Force 9. At 0125 we touched down as the tide fell, and retreated to our bunks.

At 0400 the wind at Seven Stones was NW8 but we were comfortably aground. By late breakfast time it was all over.

The breeze was down to WNW3, the sun was out and the pressure, which had dropped from 1013 to 999mb, was back up to 1010mb.

The scene in Green Bay

There were 16 yachts in Green Bay, all taking the ground with a mixture of twin keels , triple keel s, lifting keels, beaching legs and twin rudders, and all at anchor.

The flat foreshore had a layer of sand over dense shingle and pebbles.

Some skippers tried to dig-in their anchors during the morning low tide on the Thursday, but it was difficult because the substrate behaved as running gravel, and most of the anchors would penetrate further by themselves, when under load.

Modern single-fluke anchors such as Deltas, Rocnas, Mansons and Spades all performed well in the strongest wind, burying until their shanks were almost hidden.

In the outer part of the anchorage, at least one boat dragged slightly but we had noticed her sheering wildly; her motor was running slow ahead and also the tide out there was flowing to windward, both influences possibly causing the anchor chain to slacken in the lulls, so that the bow swung off in the gusts.

No boat suffered damage.

Storm tactics at anchor: An anchor hum used on a warp helps add weight to reduce snatching and shock loads. Credit: Ken Endean

Storm tactics at anchor: An anchor hum used on a warp helps add weight to reduce snatching and shock loads. Credit: Ken Endean

Four yachts had anchored well up the beach, near to the HW mark, so were solidly aground for much of the gale, and three other boats were further north, in a snug corner behind the commercial jetty.

A large Moody had remained at anchor in the drying channel, outside the bay, but had not dragged.

I had unintentionally carried out an experiment: the depth at HW would be 3.5m and we initially laid one Delta anchor on 20m of chain, but the wind backing to SSE threated to push us over a patch of rubble, so we laid our second Delta out to port as a temporary wing anchor, on only 16m of warp with a 7½kg chum weight but no chain.

The wind direction changed only gradually, and we actually lay to this second anchor while the strength increased to Force 8, before the veer allowed the first anchor to take the load again.

Several other skippers had used chums, which help to damp-down snatch loads and also reduce sheering.

Wider picture

Elsewhere there was chaos. For yachts caught in the Isles of Scilly in bad weather, the three most likely failures are a broken mooring connection, a dragged mooring or a dragged anchor, and all three occurred during that wild night.

At Hugh Town, the St Mary’s Harbour staff had diligently warned all skippers to reinforce their strops to the visitor moorings, preferably with chain, and yet numerous strops broke or chafed through.

One yacht came adrift, then secured to a local boat and reportedly caused damage before breaking free again and driving on to rocks, where the crew were lifted off by Coastguard helicopter.

Storm tactics and anchor and on moorings: The visitor moorings at St Mary's are closely packed, which is risky if a boat breaks adrift. Credit: Ken Endean

Storm tactics and anchor and on moorings: The visitor moorings at St Mary’s are closely packed, which is risky if a boat breaks adrift. Credit: Ken Endean

In other locations, at least two visitor moorings with single clump sinkers dragged (for the first time in anyone’s memory) and their moored boats went ashore.

There were also many instances of dragged anchors: a large ketch in St Helen’s Pool drove ashore on Tean’s outliers, and a cutter that had been anchored off Old Grimsby dragged for half a mile until grounding near Tresco’s eastern extremity.

Both rescues involved the helicopter. Several yachts also dragged off New Grimsby, in Porth Cressa and in The Cove, between St Agnes and Gugh.

Most of the dragged anchors had been laid in relatively deep water and many came up swathed in weed.

Storm tactics at anchor: Three craft tucked in behind the commercial jetty near the high water mark to remain dried out for much of the storm. Credit: Ken Endean

Storm tactics at anchor: Three craft tucked in behind the commercial jetty near the high water mark to remain dried out for much of the storm. Credit: Ken Endean

Three yachts anchored inside the bay at Old Grimsby, where they took the ground at low tide; they were on clean sand and remained secure.

As the local lifeboat was much in demand and suffering problems on one engine, the Sennen Cove Tamar-class lifeboat battled out from the mainland to assist.

The former’s small Y boat was also in action over low tide, when the depths were shallow, and the crews worked heroically through the night.

Other vessels lent a hand: a Tresco harbour boat assisted several yachts off New Grimsby and in Green Bay a boatyard RIB helped at least one yacht by re-positioning a stern anchor.

Storm tactics at anchor and on moorings: How to avoid problems

The buoys in St Mary’s harbour are on a ground chain grid and highly unlikely to shift.

However, they are slightly outside the harbour and in a westerly wind will be very uncomfortable indeed.

To put it another way, if the Earth was flat, those moorings would have a good view of America, with nothing in between.

A Rocna anchor getting grip......Credit: Ken Endean

A Rocna anchor getting grip……Credit: Ken Endean

Pete Hicks, coxswain of the St Mary’s Lifeboat, offers the following advice: ‘If possible, have a mooring strop made up that fits your boat’s cleat layout, with a rubbing patch for across the stem rollers with a thimble and a good shackle to attach to the mooring itself. Many of the incidents we see of yachts breaking their moorings is after a rope which has just been passed through the mooring buoy’s chain or shackle chafes out. At least take a turn in the chain to stop movement or tie off the rope with a suitable knot (round turn and 2 half hitches or Anchor bend). If you don’t have one of these, spread the load, use plenty of ropes. Attach to different points on the boat, not just one cleat. The windlass is a good place.’

Rocna anchor after a storm

…and deeply embedded after the gale. Credit: Ken Endean

The moorings are also very close together, so a boat that breaks adrift is likely to collide with others.

Elsewhere, visitor moorings with heavy clump sinkers should be okay in most conditions.

However, the buoys at New Grimsby, Old Grimsby and Tean Sound are in deep water and exposed to winds blowing along their channels, from NW or SE, when their motion can become violent.

In Green Bay many of the yachts were, like us, lying to short scopes to avoid tangling with one another, and yet all anchors held, most of them without budging.

Elsewhere, at least one of the yachts that dragged in deep water had her CQR on about 100 metres of chain but that did her no good.

Our second anchor was on a scope/depth ratio of less than 4 to 1 (measured from the stem head) so when the warp lifted the chum it would have been pulling upwards at about 15º, and yet the anchor remained solidly embedded, in winds of near gale force.

A Delta anchor sticking its point in....Credit: Ken Endean

A Delta anchor sticking its point in….Credit: Ken Endean

Much is written about the need for lots of chain on the bottom but I reckon it is even more important to ensure that the anchor has connected properly to the seabed.

In Scilly, that generally means using a modern anchor and anchoring on sand, so that the hook can dig in cleanly.

...and out Delta on rope, after the gale. Credit: Ken Endean

…and out Delta on rope, after the gale. Credit: Ken Endean

In Green Bay, we had it easy because there is little weed, but in deeper water it is essential to look for patches of light-coloured sand.

The dark areas indicate weed, which may be loose or may be growing on rock or boulders, which is just as bad.

Our Delta anchors are surprisingly effective in boulders, but I would not trust them to hang on to the lumps in a Force 9.

Hiding from the elements

Whatever the likely wind directions, finding a spot with good shelter will be easier with a boat that can take the ground – just like all the working craft that once frequented the islands.

A twin-keeler will be the best option, because it is unlikely to be damaged if it swings on to rubble, but a single-keeled yacht will become a much safer vessel for the Isles of Scilly as soon as its owner fits beaching legs.

Enjoyed reading Storm tactics at anchor: Surviving gales in Scilly?

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Best Sailboat Anchors of 2024

Stopping to explore nearby reefs and grab a quick bite of lunch, sailors often take for granted the safety and security an anchor provides. But if you’ve ever had to ride out a storm—or dragged anchor at night—you’ll soon learn the importance in choosing the best sailboat anchor for your vessel.

To determine how strong your anchor needs to be, we must first understand the differences between old guards versus new generations. Choosing an anchor takes many factors into consideration, some of which tailor to personal sailing habits, your vessel’s size and even the body of water you frequently sail.

While encouraging you to challenge your seafaring skills, we at The Adventure Junkies want beginner sailors and liveaboards to find safe anchorage during rough seas. Below, you’ll find a breakdown of common anchor types and when to use them.

For more of our top sailing gear recommendations, check out the Best Sailboat Winches .


  • Manson Supreme
  • Manson Boss
  • Rocna Original
  • LEWMAR Delta Fast-Set
  • LEWMAR Bruce-Style Claw
  • Danforth S-600


Check out the latest price on: Amazon

BEST FOR: Sailors who anchor in all seabed types

MATERIAL: Galvanized steel


PROS: Self-righting roll bar, new generation anchor, sets in hard and grassy seabeds, lifetime warranty

CONS: Less affordable


BEST FOR: Larger sailboats who sail in all types of seabeds

PROS: Self-righting, new generation anchor, narrow shank with 2 slots for day use and anchor trip

CONS: Less affordable, comparable to Rocna


BEST FOR: Sailors who want their vessel to be both functional and aesthetically pleasing

MATERIAL: High tensile galvanized and stainless steel

PROS: Self-launching curved fixed-shank, strong surface area to hold ratio, adjustable shackle for fixed eye and sliding shank for anchor trip

CONS: Narrow shank, no self-righting roll bar


BEST FOR: Vessels that frequent strong winds and tide shifts

PROS: New generation, self-righting roll bar design, plow-style wide fluke, sharp chisel, fits most bow rollers

CONS: More expensive than fluke-styles

BEST FOR: Vessels under 40 foot that frequent strong winds and tide shifts

PROS: Corkscrew plow design that digs deep, holds strong in every seabed condition, ballasted tip

CONS: More expensive

BEST FOR: Vessels that sail in marshy areas with grassy sea bottoms

PROS: Good for bow rollers, pivoting hinge shank, quickly resets

CONS: pinches fingers, hard setting in rocky bottoms


BEST FOR: Vessels that sail in sand and grass

MATERIAL: Galvanized manganese steel

PROS: Performs well in grass and sand, one piece construction, performs well on bow roller

CONS: Fixed shank underperforms in mud

Check out the latest price on: West Marine

BEST FOR: Sailors who need a fast-setting anchor in mud or sandy seabeds

MATERIAL: Aluminum

PROS: Similar to Danforth, lightweight, easily stored, good hold to weight ratio, fast-setting

CONS: Does not perform well in rocky and grassy seabeds


BEST FOR: Budget-conscious sailors with sailboats larger than 30 feet

MATERIAL: High tensile steel

PROS: No moving parts to break, lighter than plow, holds well to grass seabeds

CONS: Heavier than most anchors, low holding power, not easy to store, drags in storm conditions


BEST FOR: Smaller sailing vessels who sail in mud and sandy sea bottoms


PROS: Good general anchor for smaller vessels, lightweight, easily stowable

CONS: Doesn’t reset well, not compatible for most bow rollers, pinches fingers


8 things to consider to find the best sailboat anchor, monohull vs. multihull vessel types.

A beginner sailor might question which anchor is better for their vessel’s hull type. But to be clear–when it comes to choosing an anchor for either monohulls or multihulls (like catamarans), the type of anchor you choose depends more on your vessel’s size and weight. Vessel types are rarely–if ever–a deciding factor.


Lakes and rivers do not require the same strength you would need for coastal waters and open seas. But take your sailboat on the Great Lakes, ICW (Intracoastal Waterway) or to brave a transatlantic journey, and you’ll need something more adequate. All anchors listed here are for coastal waterways, but may also be efficient for smaller bodies of water.


To choose the correct anchor weight for your vessel, you need to know your vessel’s weight and length. Always verify the anchor manufacturer’s specifications and suggested vessel length, but know the numbers are typically inflated. I suggest to always bump up to the next size and sail with a heavier anchor than your vessel requires.


Anchors are forged from a variety of materials; some metals more modern than others. Keep in mind when you purchase that manufacturers may carry anchor styles in a variety of materials.

Aluminum anchors are lightweight by comparison, but come at a cost. Less affordable than steel anchors, they are also not as strong. But sailor prefer them because–when set correctly–they have high holding power.


Galvanized steel is a very strong and inexpensive metal. This material is perfect for sailors who don’t much care how shiny their anchor appears on the bow roller. But although galvanized metal is corrosive, it can wear over some time. Be sure to look for hot-dipped galvanized steel or plan for it to be re-galvanized.


If you want your anchor to appear more aesthetically pleasing, stainless steel is the material of choice. Stainless steel is also more resistant to rust and corrosion, but keep in mind it scratches easily and can make anchors more costly.


With nearly 3 times the holding power strength as regular steel, making most anchors with high-tensile steel relatively stronger–as long as the anchor sets well.


A newer material offered for anchors is manganese steel. Manganese combines the strength of mild steels with high-impact durability for setting repeatedly in rocky seabeds.


Beneath the water’s surface, you can encounter a variety of seabeds. This is one of the most important deciding factors in choosing a sailboat anchor. For liveaboards who find themselves sailing in a variety of seabeds, a plow style anchor or scoop is universal, whereas fluke anchors are perfect for flat sands and muddy bottoms.


Rocky seabeds can secure anchors quite well, if not a little too well. Sometimes, sailors find themselves needing to dislodge anchors which become stuck. In these cases, it’s wise to use anchors with slotted shanks, making it easier to release trip lines.


Muddy bottoms and sandy seabeds require fluke-style anchors with wide surface areas. And because mud can disguise underlying sediments, it also helps if the anchor can penetrate. Fortress anchors are great for these seabed conditions.

Sandy seabeds grab anchors very well, but challenges arise during shifting tides. Hinged-shank fluke anchors allow pivoting and non-hinged scoop anchors rotate under the sand.

Grass tends to be slippery, making it difficult for certain anchor types to grasp. In these seabeds, heavier anchors outperform engineered designs.


Even if you have a nightwatch partner, sudden storms overtake vessels and send them off course. If you want to set anchor without the worry, many new generation anchors have been tested in hurricanes and outperformed old guard anchors in extreme weather.


If an anchor lacks a way to position itself, it may not set as optimally as intended. You want to assure the anchor is engineered to self-right itself into position when it falls on the seabed. Anchors can set by using a combination of factors from roll bars to tip ballasts to chiseled fluke styles.

The new generation anchors are designed with roll bars, reacting to flat seabeds by self-righting and rolling itself over. Originally engineered by Rocna , the design has been further adopted by more anchor manufacturers like Manson .


In place of roll bars, tip ballasts are simply weighted on one end. It will naturally tilt toward the tip ballasts edge, allowing the anchor to set when it’s dragged. Anchors can have both roll bars and tip ballasts.


One challenging skill in dropping anchor is, in fact, getting it out again to reset. With some anchors, setting it on the first try is a matter of luck, especially when you’re unsure of your seabed condition. It’s important to be able to quickly reset, or you may find yourself strapping on a wet suit and goggles to retrieve it in frigid waters.

Sailors should always carry two anchor varieties. This way, after reading a sonar signatures to determine your depth and seabed conditions, you can choose which anchor will best hold as well as the scope needed to reach.


Hinged shank anchors are needed for sailing in waters where there are tidal changes. If the sailboat turns about, a hinged shank can pivot itself without having to be reset. But moving parts pinch so watch those fingers!


Fixed shank anchors are fine anchors if you aren’t worried about tidal changes and currents. You may also rely on fixed shanks in muddy seabeds if they are also scoop-styles.

For more of our top sailing gear recommendations, check out these popular buyer's guides:

Sailboat Anchors

Sailboat Winches

Sailing Shoes

Solar Panels for Sailboats

Bilge Pumps

The 5 Best Sailboat Anchors

Paul Stockdale Avatar

A good anchor for a sailboat will help keep a vessel stationary and stable in the water in any weather conditions or marine environment.

There are a number of top anchors for sailing boats that can work on sailboats of both small and large sizes of under 20ft to over 100ft.

The best sailboat anchors are:

  • Best Overall : Mantus Marine M1 Mantus Anchor
  • Best For Holding Boat : Lewmar Claw Anchor
  • Best For Price : Seachoice Utility Anchor
  • Best For Small Sailboats : Fortress FX-11 Anchor
  • Best For Large Sailboats : Rocna Galvanized Anchor

These anchors will ensure the sailboat is anchoring properly in any sailing conditions.

Sailboat owners should choose an anchor based on the size and type of their sailboat as well as the type of marine environment their vessel will be located in.

For example, anchoring a sailboat on a sandy surface is different than anchoring a sailboat on a rocky surface and it will require different anchors.

1. M1 Mantus Galvanized Anchor

M1 Mantus Galvanized Anchor Best Overall Anchor

The best overall sailboat anchor is the M1 Mantus anchor manufactured by the brand Mantus Marine in Texas, America and sold worldwide.

This fluke anchor is the best overall anchor because it can dig deep into the seafloor and ensure the sailing vessel will not float away.

The M1 Mantus anchor is constructed of hot-dipped galvanized steel with the shank and shank boot welded from top to bottom.

It is a plow anchor shaped with a sharp triangle-shaped nose, a straight shank and a "U" shaped roll bar bolted to a fluke.

This anchor comes in many different sizes from 8lbs to 175lbs. It comes with 4 American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) certified bolts.

The M1 Mantus anchor is used on seafloor surfaces including sandy, gravel, grassy and muddy sea floors. It is not used on rocky sea floors.

The M1 Mantus can be used in different types of locations including rivers, sea and lakes.

Sailboat sizes of 20ft to 65ft can use the M1 Mantus anchor.

The M1 Mantus anchor is priced between $180 for the smallest 8lb anchor to approximately $3,000 for the largest 175lb anchor at most retailers.

The M1 Mantus anchor works to hold a vessel in position in winds of up to 40 knots, highlighting its great holding power abilities.

The benefits of the M1 Mantus anchor are:

  • It comes with a great lifetime warranty : The Mantus Marine manufacturer offers a lifetime warranty on this anchor for added peace of mind
  • It can be disassembled easily for storage : Simple disassembling bolts make it easy for storing this anchor when it is not in use
  • Multiple size options : With anchor size options from 8lbs to 175lbs, sailboat owners of different vessel sizes, from small sailboats of 20ft to large sailboats of 65ft can use this anchor
  • It works in multiple marine conditions : This anchor works in multiple marine conditions from calm ocean currents to extremely windy and storm conditions with up to 40 knots of wind speed
  • High-performance sharp head nose enables easy penetration of the sea floor : The sharp edge nose of this anchor means it penetrates the ocean floor fast and with ease
  • It is hot dipped galvanized for corrosion prevention : This anchor is hot dipped galvanized giving it extra protection against corrosion and wear from corrosive seawater
  • It comes with 4 high-quality oversized A.S.T.M. certified bolts : This anchor comes with 4 oversized bolts with a large margin of safety that will help prevent damage

One disadvantage of the M1 Mantus anchor is it is more expensive than other anchors on the market.

M1 Mantas Anchor On Amazon →

M1 Mantas Anchor On eBay →

2. Lewmar Claw Anchor

Lewmar Claw Anchor Best Holding Power Anchor

The best sailboat anchor for its holding power is the Lewmar Claw anchor manufactured by the brand Lewmar in Hampshire, United Kingdom and sold worldwide.

The Lewmar Claw anchor is constructed of high-grade galvanized steel cast in a single piece. This anchor was inspired and designed based on anchors used to secure oil rigs in the North Sea.

The Lewmar Claw anchor comes in sizes from 2.2lbs to 176lbs. It is used on seabed surfaces including sandy, muddy, gravel and grassy ocean floors. It is not used on rocky surfaces.

The Lewmar Claw anchor can be used in different types of marine locations including ocean, lake and river floors.

Sailboat sizes of 12ft to 65ft can use the Lewmar Claw anchor.

The Lewmar Claw anchor is priced between approximately $30 for the smallest 2.2lb anchor to approximately $1,300 for the largest 176lb anchor at most retailers.

The Lewmar Claw anchor can hold a sailing vessel in position in winds up to 50 knots without the boat floating away.

The benefits of the Lewmar Claw anchor are:

  • It's fast setting : Depending on the sea depth, this anchor can set and begin anchoring a vessel in under 5 minutes
  • It has great holding power : This anchor can help with anchoring boats in position in extremely harsh weather conditions with winds up to 50 knots
  • Easy bow roller storable : This anchor can fit and store nicely in most bow roller shapes and styles without any issues
  • It's a budget-friendly anchor : The Lewmar Claw anchor is one of the cheapest on the market and it should be within most sailboat owner's budget with the most expensive anchor sold at a price of approximately $1,300
  • It's built with strong & high-quality material : The Lewmar Claw is built with high-quality and heat-treated steel with a galvanized finish

One disadvantage of the Lewmar Claw anchor is it does not come with a lifetime warranty.

Lewmar Claw Anchor On Amazon →

Lewmar Claw Anchor On Walmart →

3. Seachoice Utility Anchor

Seachoice Utility Anchor Best For Price

The best sailboat anchor for the price is the Seachoice Utility anchor manufactured by the brand Seachoice in Florida, America and sold worldwide.

This fluke anchor is the best for the price because it offers the most options for the cheapest price on the market.

The Seachoice Utility anchor is constructed of hot-dipped galvanized steel or PVC-coated steel. It comes in 5 different color options including red, black, white, light blue and grey.

This anchor comes in different sizes from 4.5lbs to 8.5lbs.

The Seachoice Utility anchor is priced at approximately $25 for the smallest 4.5lb anchor to approximately $70 for the larger 8.5lb anchor at most retailers.

The Seachoice Utility anchor is used on different seabed surfaces including gravel, sand, grassy and muddy sea floors. It is not used on rocky seafloors.

The Seachoice anchor can be used in different types of marine locations including the sea, rivers and lakes.

Sailboat sizes of 10ft to 30ft can use the Seachoice Utility anchor.

The Seachoice Utility anchor can hold a sailboat in position and keep it anchored in wind speeds up to 30 knots without the boat floating away.

The benefits of the Seachoice Utility anchor are:

  • It comes with a 1-year warranty : The Seachoice Utility anchor comes with a 1-year manufacturers warranty for added peace of mind
  • It comes in multiple color options : Sailboat owners can choose from 5 different anchor colors
  • It's easy to retrieve from the seawater : This anchor comes with a great slip-ring design that makes it easy to retrieve it from the water after use
  • Sharp anchor fluke design makes penetration easy : The sharp fluke design helps the anchor to easily penetrate the seafloor surface
  • It is cheap : The Seachoice Utility anchor is the cheapest anchor on the market with the largest anchor priced at approximately $70

Two disadvantages of the Seachoice Utility anchor are the anchor can only be used on smaller sailboats up to 30ft in length and it can not be used on larger sailboats over 30ft and the anchor can not be used on rocky sea floors.

Seachoice Utility Anchor On Amazon →

Seachoice Utility Anchor On Walmart →

4. Fortress FX-11 Anchor

Fortress FX-11 Anchor Best For Small Sailboats

The best sailboat anchor for small sailboats is the Fortress FX-11 anchor manufactured by the brand Fortress Marine Anchors in Florida, America and sold worldwide.

This fluke anchor is the best for small boats because its lightweight aluminum material is capable of holding a sailboat up to 32ft without the anchor being extra heavy.

The Fortress FX-11 anchor is constructed of aluminum alloy material and it comes in a size of 7lbs.

It comes with a pivot adjustment which allows an adjustment of the anchor angle between 32° to 45°.

The Fortress FX-11 anchor is used on seafloor surfaces including sand, gravel, mud and grassy surfaces. It is not used on rocky seafloor surfaces.

The Fortress FX-11 anchor can be used in different marine locations including lakes, rivers and the sea.

Sailboat sizes of between 28ft to 32ft can use the FX-11 anchor.

The Fortress FX-11 anchor is priced at approximately $200 at most retailers.

The Fortress FX-11 anchor works to hold a sailing vessel in position in winds up to 30 knots without the vessel floating away.

The benefits of the Fortress FX-11 anchor are:

  • It's rustproof : The light but strong aluminum material is rustproof meaning the anchor will not suffer from rusting caused by the corrosive seawater
  • It comes with a lifetime parts warranty : The Fortress FX-11 anchor comes with a lifetime parts replacement warranty against damage that might occur to any parts of the anchor
  • It is easy to store after use : It can be easily disassembled which means it is easy to store onboard the sailboat after using it#
  • Penetrates the seafloor and sets deeper : The sharp edge d anchor allows it to easily penetrate seafloors and anchor a boat

One disadvantage of the Fortress FX-11 anchor is it can only be used on smaller sailboats between 28ft to 32ft and it cannot be used on larger sailing vessels over 32ft.

Fortress FX-11 On Amazon →

Fortress FX-11 On Walmart →

5. Rocna Galvanized Anchor

Rocna Galvanized Anchor Best For Large Sailboats

The best anchor for larger sailboats is the Rocna galvanized steel anchor manufactured by the brand Rocna in British Columbia, Canada and sold worldwide.

The Rocna anchor is constructed of galvanized steel with solid welding from top to bottom.

The Rocna galvanized steel anchor was designed by New Zealand sailor Peter Smith.

The Rocna anchor design comes with a roll-bar to ensure the anchor can penetrate the surface at the best angle and one-third of the anchor's weight is on the fluke tip which also helps with the penetration of the seafloor surface.

The Rocna anchor comes in 14 different sizes from 9lbs to 606lbs.

This fluke anchor is the best for larger sailboats because it offers anchors up to 606lbs which will help with anchoring most larger sailing vessels.

The Rocna anchor can be used on all sea surfaces from gravel, mud, sand, clay, kelp and rocks. It can also be used in marine locations including lakes, rivers and the sea.

Sailboat sizes of 12ft to over 300ft can use the Rocna galvanized steel anchor.

The Rocna galvanized steel anchor is priced between approximately $220 for the smallest 9lbs anchor to approximately $12,000 for the largest 606lb anchor.

The Rocna galvanized steel anchor can hold a sailing vessel in position in winds up to 40 knots without the boat floating away.

The benefits of the Rocna galvanized anchor are:

  • It comes with a great lifetime warranty : The Rocna galvanized anchor comes with a lifetime warranty against breakage, manufacturing defects and bending for added peace of mind
  • It can be used on all sea surfaces : The Rocna galvanized steel anchor can be used on all sea surfaces including gravel, sand, mud and rocky sea floors and it is not limited or restricted to just a few types of surfaces
  • It sets fast : The sharp edge fluke helps penetrate the sea surface and the anchor sets fast as a result of this design

One disadvantage of the Rocna anchor is it is not the cheapest anchor with the cheapest price at approximately $220.

Rocna Anchor On Amazon →

Top Sailboat Anchors Comparison Table

What to consider when buying a sailboat anchor.

The factors to consider before buying a sailboat anchor are:

  • Type of material used : The type of material used to create the anchor is an important consideration when buying a sailboat anchor. Most modern anchors are constructed using aluminum steel or galvanized steel
  • Durability : How long the anchor can last is a factor to consider when buying a sailboat anchor. Modern anchors come with lifetime warranties and they should last for well over 10 years
  • Size Of The Boat : Identifying the proper anchor size for a boat is not a perfect science but the size of your boat is an extremely important factor to consider when choosing a top sailboat anchor. Typically, the larger the boat size, the bigger the anchor that is required
  • Price : Price will also play a big role in the sailboat anchor you buy. Anchors come in many different prices for many different budgets

Frequently Asked Questions About The Best Sailboat Anchors

Below are the most common and frequently asked questions about the top sailing vessel anchors.

What Are The Best Sailboat Anchor Brands?

The best sailboat anchor brands are:

  • Five Oceans Danforth Style
  • Mantus Marine

Are Top Sailing Boat Anchors Expensive?

No, top sailboat anchors are not expensive with some of the best sailboat anchors priced as little as $25 in some instances.

What Are The Different Types Of Sailboat Anchors Available For Sailboat Owners?

The types of sailboat anchors available are:

  • Fluke anchors
  • Plow anchors
  • Claw anchors
  • Mushroom anchors
  • Grapnel anchors

An Introduction To Sea Anchor Use

Sea anchors come in many shapes and sizes, with many monikers such as parachute sea anchors, drift anchors, drift socks, parachute anchors, or boat brakes.

Whatever you want to call them, they are vital components in overall boat safety equipment, and it’s essential to know how to use a sea anchor.

The parachute sea anchor is the best-known type of sea anchor, deployed from the bow of any boat.

A sea anchor can save your boat in a storm or keep you on fish; it has numerous uses, but its primary purpose is to aid a vessel in dangerous and heavy weather sailing by keeping the bow windward and into the incoming waves.

If you’re unaware of what a sea anchor is, let me introduce you to the different types and their uses and stress the importance of having one on deck.

⚓ The Different Types Of Sea Anchors

Seafarers of old used bags, buckets, cones, anything you could think of to limit their vessel’s drift.

Today, we have a couple of helpful and reliable options when choosing sea anchors, such as the following:

  • Parachute Sea Anchors
  • Drift Anchors (Drift Socks, Drag Bag, Trolling Sea Anchor, Drifter, Sea Brake)

🪂 Parachute Sea Anchor

The parachute sea anchor, also referred to as a para sea anchor or para-anchor, is a specially designed water parachute attached to an anchor rope deployed from the bow of a vessel.

A parachute sea anchor is usually made from high-strength nylon or Dacron, and a typical para-anchor setup consists of the following:

  • Durable 8-ounce nylon or Dacron canopy
  • Multiple shroud lines
  • Stainless steel swivel or galvanized shackle
  • Fishing weights
  • Floating flag
  • Anchor line (rode)
  • Recovery line
  • Retrieval float
  • Float deployment bag

Monohull sailboats, multihull sailboats, trawlers, skiffs, commercial cruise liners, superyachts, sports boats, rowing boats, canoes, kayaks, centerboard boats, runabouts, and charter fishing boats can all benefit from deploying a sea anchor when disaster strikes, or to modify the vessel’s drift.

A parachute sea anchor works by dropping it in the water from the bow of any vessel.

As soon as it sinks, it will deploy quite rapidly, putting tension on the attached anchor line. The sea anchor will pull the bow into approaching weather, stabilizing the vessel by slowing down the boat’s drift. Think of a parachute sea anchor as a brake for boats.

The drag created by the parachute sea anchor has been known to slow down a boat to half a nautical mile per hour. In contrast, without a parachute sea anchor, the figure can quickly rise to 10 nautical miles per hour, potentially reducing drift by 90%.

The parachute sea anchor is very popular amongst drift fisherman who employs it to slow down the fishing vessel’s drift, allowing it to comfortably fish in a specific area without having to worry about drifting out of the fish-rich angling spots.

A para-anchor also saves fishermen hundreds of dollars of fuel per day due to not having to use the motor to keep the vessel in place. An important factor when employing a sea anchor is that you must use a size-appropriate sea anchor for the best results.

Basic Deployment Of A Parachute Sea Anchor

When it’s time to deploy a para-anchor , either due to heavy seas, crew fatigue, or when out fishing, you first have to stop the boat. On a monohull sailboat, you need to power up the motor and put it in neutral before lowering the head and main sail.

With the engine powered forward, you can keep the bow into the sea, virtually stopping the sailboat. The para-anchor is deployed from the windward side to keep the sailboat from drifting over it. A recovery line and a retrieval float are deployed into the water first.

Allow the boat to move away from the trip line and let it become tight before dropping the para-anchor into the water. As soon as the para-anchor is deployed into the water, snub the anchor line to inflate the canopy before securing it to a cleat, bitts, or designated strong point.

Installing cleats and bits with bolts and a backing plate is highly recommended, as when a sea anchor is deployed, it puts a lot of stress on attached boat parts. Choose a dedicated strong point from where you will launch a sea anchor, and beware of skimpy windlasses.

Recommended Rode Length When Deploying A Sea Anchor

The length of the anchor rope plays a critical part in keeping the sea anchor deployed at all times. For the best results when using a para-anchor, is to ensure that the parachute canopy stays inflated.

When deploying a para-anchor, you don’t want any twisting of the parachute or its canopy inverting when it osculates (pulsating like jellyfish.)

Fiorentino Para Anchor drag device inventor Zack Smith suggests the following regarding the length of rope deployment.

“What we discovered through all our testing was that if we maintained constant rope tension, the parachute sea anchor stays inflated the entire time.”

Smith continues,

“Obviously, when the parachutes stay inflated, it will keep your bow faced with the wind conditions and storms.”

He gives an example of rope deployment for a 40-foot boat and 400 feet of rope.

Smith states,

“When the weather is calm, I go ahead and throw out a couple of boat lengths. If there’s gale force conditions which can lead to 12- or 16-foot seas, I’ll pay out a third of the rope that I’m carrying on board. And if it’s a storm situation, I’ll pay out half mile line.”

📺 Watch the full interview on YouTube

The experienced parachute sea anchor tester recommends that captains add a 6-foot chain to the rope, as the added weight will counter any slackness. In addition, the chain will sink when the rope loses tension, ensuring that the parachute canopy stays inflated.

The standard recommendation from most makers of parachute sea anchors is to throw out at least 10 to 15 feet of rope, no matter the weather conditions.

Even when you deploy the correct length of rope with the added 6-foot chain, a monohull sailboat or trawler might start to swing back and forth, despite all your best efforts.

If the boat jerks or feels like it’s being pulled through the waves, you might need to pay out more anchor rope (rode) until this unnatural boat motion stops. Set your chafe protection to avoid line wear when satisfied with the vessel’s motion.

Wind loads can exert pressure on an anchor rope to more than a ton of pull. That’s why Para-Tech recommends the following nylon rode thickness: 

  • ½” nylon rode for 35′ boats
  • 5/8″ nylon rode for 35′ to 45′ boats
  • ¾” nylon rode for boats up to 55.’ 

Light displacement sailboats may rock back and forth while secured to the para-anchor, and if deploying more anchor rope doesn’t fix the problem, you have one of two choices:

  • Attach a secondary line to the primary rope leading to the parachute sea anchor, forming a V-shaped bridal.
  • Attach a storm sail.

A V-shaped bridal helps the boat stabilize and deter it from swinging back and forth and is most successful in a wind force of 35 knots and above. When a boat starts swinging back and forth, it creates shock loading on the rope, which can result in it breaking.

A V-shaped bridle is required when deploying a sea anchor on catamarans or other multihull boats. The best advice is to prepare the setup before sailing. For example, you can have two bridle lines of 50 feet each tied to a road of, say, 300 feet already bound to the vessel’s hulls.

By carefully packaging the sea anchor in different bundles, it’s ready to deploy when needed by simply throwing it off the boat. You don’t want to still have to tie bridle lines to the two bows when disaster strikes.

When Do You Use A Parachute Sea Anchor?

A parachute sea anchor is typically used in stormy weather or whenever you need to stabilize and slow down the vessel’s drift due to the loss of the boat’s steering to minimize the chance of being rolled. It can also be deployed when the water is too deep to employ an ordinary anchor.

Sailors on sailboats tend to use a parachute sea anchor in extremely windy conditions when using sails is impossible. The sea anchor helps turn the sailboat into the oncoming waves, minimizing the chance of being rolled.

Loss of power is another good reason to employ a sea anchor, especially if you’re drifting towards shoals while waiting for assistance from a fellow boater.

Drift fishermen often deploy a parachute sea anchor when fishing, allowing them to fish in a certain fishing area without worrying about the boat drifting away from the prime spot.

🧦 Drift Anchors And Drift Socks

Whereas a parachute sea anchor is a specialized safety tool to be used in emergencies (and for drift fishing), a drift anchor , by comparison, is mostly used for fishing.

A drift anchor is a funnel-shaped conical chute that catches water and restricts its flow through a small opening at the opposite end.

When Do You Use A Drift Anchor

Anglers use drift anchors or drift socks to slow down the drift of their boats when fishing with live bait and jigs and when using bottom baits for bottom fishing.

Every angler knows that a fast drift makes it challenging to place baits and keep them in a specific water column position.

Using a drift anchor also protects less durable baits, such as pilchards, from the intensity of fast drifts. Monitoring a fishing rod is made easier when employing a drift anchor.

Many fishermen deploy sea anchors from the vessel’s windward beam, allowing drifted baits to spread out along the entirety of the vessel.

Basic Deployment Of A Drift Anchor

You can use a drift anchor on any boat, from kayaks to fishing boats and sailboats. However, how you fasten the drift anchor is critical, as it puts a lot of strain on a boat. Ensure that your boat cleats can withstand the stress when attaching a sea anchor.

When deploying the drift anchor or drift sock into the water, ensure there’s enough space between the sea anchor and the boat by monitoring the anchor line attached to the sea anchor.

A drift anchor doesn’t need as much rope as a para-anchor does; it only needs enough so that the drift anchor rises and falls in sync with the vessel.

If you see that the drift anchor is repeatedly collapsing before filling up again, it’s indicative of too short a ride.

The setup of a drift anchor should include the following:

  • Drift Anchor
  • Anchor Line (Rode)
  • Swivel Shackle

The trip line is essential in the setup. Pulling the trip line pulls the drift anchor from the back, deflating the device and making it easy to get the drift anchor back onto the boat.

What Is The Difference Between A Drogue And A Sea Anchor?

A drogue is a cone-shaped fabric device deployed from the stern of a boat, primarily used to slow down a boat instead of stopping it while it motors down-sea. Slowing down the boat as it races down sea waves reduces the risk of pitchpoling and broaching.

Drogues are typically employed when a boat has lost its ability to steer (power failure and rudder problems) and to slow down drift for trolling.

How Is A Sea Anchor Used In A Lifeboat?

The Code of Federal Regulations states that a sea anchor must be permanently affixed to a lifeboat so that it can be easily deployed in an emergency and fitted with a shock-resistant hawser.

A davit-launched passenger vessel liferaft must deploy automatically when the lifeboat floats freely. As a result, a lifeboat’s sea anchor rode will be considerably shorter than required on bigger vessels.

Are Sea Anchors Any Good?

A sea anchor is a vital component of boat safety equipment. When a sailboat or any other type of boat is faced with a storm at sea, the most important aspect of survival is to get the vessel stable, which a sea anchor achieves when deployed correctly.

A sea anchor is vital during breakdowns, layovers, and other emergencies involving strong winds and massive waves.

🔑 Key Takeaways

1️⃣ A sea anchor is as important as stocking life jackets on a ship. It has the potential to save your boat in stormy conditions, which directly results in preserving your life as well. 2️⃣ When faced with rough sea conditions that take boat control out of your hands, a para-anchor will keep your vessel stable and afloat while waiting out the storm.

Many boat owners had lost their lives and boats due to not having a sea anchor on board when an emergency struck.

The power of the ocean is not to be underestimated, and being slapped around by breaking waves is no joke. If you own a boat without a sea anchor, you should invest in one today.

📢 Pro Tip: To help you make the correct choice read this article covering what size sea anchor you need so that you can make an informed decision

If your boat is fitted with a sea anchor, ensure that you test it often to ensure that it is operational and to keep your deploying skills up to date.

Written by:

I’m the founder and chief editor here at Sailing Savvy. I spent a decade working as a professional mariner and currently, I mix those experiences with digital publishing. Welcome, and I hope that we can be the hub you need for safe passage.

Nomadic Sailing

12 Best Sailboat Anchors for Any Sailor

Anchor at bow of a boat

Having the ability to anchor out inside a nice peaceful bay or right outside of a marina avoiding all the hubbub can be an amazing feeling.

It’s an even better feeling knowing that your sailboat is securely fastened using the best sailboat anchor so that you don’t start floating away when the tide or wind starts to shift.

There are a lot of amazing anchors out there that are potentially a great fit for you and your sailboat as a primary anchor.

Having a clear understanding of what makes a good, high-quality sailboat anchor from a trusted brand means you’ll be able to make a more educated choice when deciding which anchor is best for you and your sailboat.

The Best Sailboat Anchors

Depending on your style of sailing and the whereabouts you like to explore, you may need one sailboat anchor over another.

Based on my experience, there are a lot of great options out there to choose from, which is why I put together the following list of the best sailboat anchors.

1. Rocna Vulcan Galvanized Anchor

sailboat storm anchor

One of the best sailboat anchors out there today based on being the best-selling anchor for yachts and workboats goes to the Rocna Vulcan Galvanized Anchor .

As one of the pioneering brands for sailboat anchors, the Rocna Vulcan was able to transform from the original Rocna anchor to the most dependable, best anchor out there today.

The Rocna Vulcan is actually a modified version of the original Rocna anchor, which was one of the most groundbreaking anchors to have been engineered and set the stage for the Rocna Vulcan.

The original Rocna anchor was designed in New Zealand back in 2004 and took the industry by storm. By taking the best features from more traditional anchor types, like the Bugel anchor and Spade anchor, it was able to set itself apart.

The Rocna Vulcan has a lot of fantastic features to it apart from being a very strong and powerful anchor. For one, it has the ability to dig into almost any type of seabed, which comes in handy when sailing in diverse locations.

It’s also relatively lightweight and easy to stow due to it not having a roll bar like its older brother, the original Rocna.

Another great feature is that it has no moving parts, so no one’s fingers have the chance of getting pinched.

When it comes to the construction material of the anchor, the Rocna Vulcan is a galvanized steel boat anchor, which means it’s very strong, long-lasting, and relatively inexpensive.

The design of this sailboat anchor allows for it to self-right itself when landing on the seabed and when being pushed around by currents and tides. It also comes with a lifetime warranty, so it’s guaranteed to last the lifetime of your sailboat.

All in all, the Rocna Vulcan is a great choice for any sailboat looking to anchor out.

Regardless of where you are, it’s highly likely you’ll be able to use your Rocna Vulcan to anchor and feel good that you have a popular, well-designed anchor manufactured by a trusted brand.

If you’re serious about getting one of the best boat anchors, definitely check it out.

2. Manson Galvanized Supreme Anchor

sailboat storm anchor

As one of the most famous boat anchors that were released when the original Rocna anchor came out is the Manson Galvanized Supreme Anchor .

As a matter of fact, this anchor came out in 2003 and is well known to this day as being extremely effective due to having a very high holding power, an effective roll bar, and an ability to settle to the seabed quickly.

You certainly cannot go wrong with a Manson Supreme anchor if you decide to get one. They have very high holding power, are able to dig into almost any seabed, have no moving parts, and are able to touch the seabed quickly.

While their major advantages are definitely the holding power and fast settling, this comes at the price of being rather heavy which can make stowing this anchor difficult at times.

3. Lewmar Galvanized Delta Anchor

sailboat storm anchor

Even though there are a number of modern anchor types that have taken the industry by storm, some of the more traditional designs still hold their weight to this day.

That’s why the Lewmar Galvanized Delta Anchor  is still on the anchor scene, especially since it’s been a hallmark anchor for a very long time.

There are a number of good reasons to go with this anchor by Lewmar especially the fact that it has a strong holding power in softer seabeds (like mud and sand).

It’s also relatively lighter than other sailboat anchors allowing for easy stowing and transportation. Another great quality is that it’s all one piece, so there’s no potential issue of pinched fingers.

The only downsides include that it sometimes requires a tripping anchor line to release it from the seabed and that it’s not ideal for hard seabeds or seabeds covered in kelp.

4. Spade Anchor S120 Galvanized Steel

sailboat storm anchor

Another well-known, traditional design for anchors is the Spade Anchor S120 Galvanized Steel .

This type of anchor has been around for quite some time and has proven itself as a worthy contender to even the newer, more modern anchor types.

It certainly set the stage for a lot of anchor designs today and it continues to shine even today.

The Spade anchor is a very popular style of anchor that was designed in France back in 1996.

It was based on the delta style anchor design in a way to achieve a similar grip power to the seabed but by providing an even large surface area contact to the seabed.

This sailboat anchor is lightweight and can dig into soft seabeds quite well making it a great fisherman anchor for most fishing boats.

One of the downsides is that it sometimes Spade anchors needs the assistance of a tripping line to remove it from the seabed.

5. Lewmar CQR Anchor

sailboat storm anchor

Of all the more traditional anchors out there today, one of the most famous that really shook the anchor industry is the Lewmar CQR Anchor .

Before the more modern sailboat anchors, the CQR anchor (or the plow style anchor generally) was the go-to anchor for many yachts and workboats.

If you’re looking for a classic, time-tested anchor, the CQR might be the anchor for you.

The CQR anchor was designed in the UK way back in 1933 and has been one of the most well-known anchors out there. It was known to be so secure (and it still is), that it was named CQR because it sounded like “secure”.

This anchor’s relatively lightweight, digs into the seabed quite well, and is rather versatile in terms of the texture of the seabed it can grip.

However, it does have some downsides including it being oddly shaped so stowing is more difficult, it has moving parts, and it sometimes requires a tripping anchor line to remove it from the seabed.

6. Lewmar Claw Anchor

sailboat storm anchor

Another great anchor that’s been around for a while is the Lewmar Claw Anchor , which has been known as either the Bruce or Claw anchor in the past.

The strong reputation of Claw anchors has been well-known in the anchor industry for a long time and is further proven due to being manufactured by the trusted brand Lewmar.

The Lewmar Claw anchor is a fantastic anchor to own due to it being relatively lightweight, strong, and inexpensive.

As a matter of fact, it’s one of the best sailboat anchors anyone can buy since it has a lot of positive advantages like it has no moving parts and it’s easy to remove from the seabed.

The only downsides include it having an odd shape, making it a bit more difficult to stow, and not being the best when penetrating seaweed or grass-like seabeds.

7. Danforth S-600 Standard Anchor

sailboat storm anchor

There’s no doubt that even some of the traditional anchors still have a place in the best anchor category and that goes double for the Danforth S-600 Standard Anchor .

Similar to the CQR anchor, this anchor has been around for quite some time and was developed in the US back in the 1940s.

As a matter of fact, they were originally manufactured to be equipped with certain landing aircraft during WW2.

The Danforth anchor is an industry standard and has been a hallmark for many decades. They’ve been used as anchors for many types of vessels and are especially good for anchoring out in loose seabeds like sand or mud.

It’s also relatively lightweight and can be stowed easily since it’s pretty flat. Unfortunately, it has some moving parts to it, sometimes requires a tripping line to get it out of the seabed, and is certainly not ideal for more rocky seabeds.

8. Norestar Stainless Steel Danforth-Style Anchor

sailboat storm anchor

While the original Danforth anchor is a great choice for your next anchor, a step up in terms of quality is the Norestar Stainless Steel Danforth-Style Anchor .

While you’ll certainly spend a bit more money for this Danforth-style anchor, the design improvements ensure a safer anchoring and a longer-lasting product.

This Danforth-style anchor by Norestar provides all of the advantages of owning a traditional Danforth with some extras.

First, it has no movable parts so there’s no chance of pinching fingers while operating the anchor.

Second, it allows for anchoring off in seabeds that are rockier than the original Danforth can handle. It even comes in stainless steel, which means this anchor will last a very long time.

It does, however, still have the downside of at times needing a tripping line to release it from the seabed.

9. Norestar Stainless Steel Bruce Anchor

sailboat storm anchor

The Bruce anchor (also known as the Claw anchor) is a popular style of anchor that’s been used for a very long time.

There’s no question the Norestar Stainless Steel Bruce Anchor is a step up in the design of this anchor style, similar to how they improved the Danforth.

This Bruce/Claw anchor is a great choice for your sailboat’s next anchor since it has a good holding power for almost any seabed texture.

It’s also quite lightweight, has no moving parts, and it’s very easy to break it from the seabed.

Even better, it’s made out of stainless steel, so it’s built to last. Honestly, there aren’t too many downsides to this anchor apart from it being relatively expensive.

10. Norestar Stainless Steel Delta Anchor

sailboat storm anchor

The Norestar brand is amazing at taking the more traditional style of anchors and improving its designs to make them more attractive.

Well, they’ve done that once again with the Norestar Stainless Steel Delta Anchor .

The Delta anchor was already an improvement to the CQR anchor, but Norestar decided to take it to the next level.

The Delta anchor by Norestar is one of the highest quality stainless steel, delta-style anchors you could put on your sailboat.

Apart from it being stainless steel like the rest of Norestar’s anchors, it’s also lightweight, has no moving parts, and has a powerful holding power in softer seabeds.

However, it might not be the best sailboat anchor on seabeds with hard sand and it might require a tripping line to set it free from the seabed.

11. Mantus Galvanized Anchor

sailboat storm anchor

Some of the best sailboat anchors are originally derived from the more traditional sailboat anchors (in particular those with a roll bar), which is definitely the case for the Mantus Galvanized Anchor .

As one of the most well-known anchor types out there, this anchor manufactured by Mantus Marine stands out as a top contender for the best sailboat anchor.

This anchor by Mantus is produced with galvanized steel which makes it quite strong, inexpensive, and dependable.

With its uniquely designed roll bar, this sailboat anchor is able to properly land on the seabed when making its descent resulting in getting a better grip of wherever it ends up.

This anchor is specifically designed to break through dense grassy bottoms, so definitely a consideration when buying your next sailboat anchor.

12. Fortress Anchor

sailboat storm anchor

Sometimes it’s important to break free from the most well-known anchor brands and see what else is out there.

After stepping outside and digging into other anchor styles, I fell upon the Fortress Anchor , which is an aluminum fluke anchor that has a lot of common characteristics found in the traditional Danforth-style sailboat anchor.

The Fortress anchor has a very similar design to the Danforth but differs in the sense that it’s even more lightweight since it’s made out of aluminum magnesium alloy.

Some of the clear advantages that make this a candidate for the best sailboat anchor are that it settles quickly to the bottom of the seabed, it can be disassembled for easy storage, and it’s been tested to have double the holding power compared to its competition.

Downsides include movable parts, sometimes requiring a tripping line to remove it from the seabed, and not being ideal for rocky seabeds.

What to Consider Before Buying a Sailboat Anchor

We went over a good amount of high-quality sailboat anchors just now, so you should have a good idea of what anchor you might consider purchasing for your sailboat.

However, there are a few considerations to take into account before making that purchase, which is what we’ll cover now.

Construction Materials

You’ll find a number of different construction materials for anchors, like aluminum and steel, but by far the most common materials you’ll find is a metal anchor made of steel or aluminum alloy.

Galvanized Steel

Anchors made out of galvanized steel are often found to be less expensive and shiny compared to other types of anchor materials.

The great part is that they’re very strong and can last a very long time. Unfortunately, they’re prone to corrosion so it’s not uncommon to have to get them re-galvanized.

Stainless Steel

Anchors made out of stainless steel are very strong and aesthetically pleasing in terms of their appearance since it’s rather shiny.

You can’t go wrong with getting a stainless steel anchor, but you’ll definitely be forking over more money to get one.

Aluminum Alloy

Anchors made out of aluminum alloy are very lightweight compared to steel but often come at a much higher cost when going through the checkout line. However, when set correctly on the seabed, they’re known to have very high holding power.

Lakes vs. Coastal Waterways

Depending on where you’re sailing, you’ll need a certain level of strength to keep your sailboat from moving around while anchored.

Sailing in coastal waterways definitely requires a strong anchor than when sailing around lakes, so it’s generally advised to stick with the stronger anchors just in case.

If you know your sailboat will never leave the lake scene, go with a weaker (and thus cheaper) anchor.

Anchor Weight to Boat Length

You might’ve been wondering how strong your anchor should be based on the size of your sailboat.

Well, there’s no hard and fast rule to the exact strength (or weight) your anchor should have, but it’s definitely possible to determine a minimum weight to cover some worst-case scenarios when using your anchor.

A simple way to determine the minimum anchor weight of your sailboat is to subtract 5-10 lbs from every foot of your sailboat’s length overall (LOA). For example, if your sailboat is 40 feet long, then a 35 lb boat anchor would be a good weight.

This is a good rule of thumb when choosing an anchor weight for your sailboat, but should only be considered as an estimate and for minimum weight.

If the anchor you plan to purchase has a chart helping you decide on the proper weight to get, you should definitely follow that.

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How To Help Your Boat Survive A Major Storm

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Hurricane Gloria was a most impolite lady. She barreled up the Atlantic coast, scaring the heck out of people from Florida to Massachusetts. Despite the fact that the storm didn’t live up to its billing, hundreds of boats in New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts were destroyed or severely damaged. In some cases, the boats were lost through no fault of the owner. No amount of preparation will save your boat if another boat drags down on it in the middle of a hurricane.

In other cases, however, lack of proper preparation was a major cause of a damaged boat. There’s no excuse for that type of loss.

Despite the fact that modern forecasting methods are far from perfect, a large storm such as Gloria almost always is tracked with enough precision to let you know if you’re potentially in the path of destruction. With a day or more of warning, you have plenty of time to take the precautions necessary to give your boat the best chance to survive a major storm.

When the load exerted on a boat’s ground tackle-whether a mooring or her own anchors-exceeds the holding power of the ground tackle, the boat will drag. One of the primary contributors to that load is the windage of the boat.

If your boat hung perfectly head to wind, the windage loading would be fairly small, consisting of the frontal area of the hull, deck structures, spars, and rigging in the case of a sailboat, and the hull, deck structures, bridge, and antennas of a powerboat. Unfortunately, few boats lie perfectly head to wind through a storm. Instead, they yaw about from side to side. As the boat sails around on her anchors or mooring, the total area presented to the wind, and hence the total loading on the ground tackle, varies dramatically. The area presented by any boat broadside to the wind is several times that presented by the same boat when it is perfectly head to wind. Since the change in wind loading is a function of the square of the wind velocity, the strain on your ground tackle increases geometrically as the boat yaws around. Reducing windage will help reduce the total loading, and hence help your boat stay put.

You can substantially reduce the windage of any boat with only a few hours of work. First, remove Bimini tops, cockpit dodgers, spray curtains around cockpits, and awnings. Those are pretty obvious. The rest may not be.

Sails should be removed, particularly roller furling headsails. You don’t just have to worry about the windage of the rolled-up sails, you have to worry about what will happen when the sail unfurls. And we practically guarantee it will, no matter how well tied it may be. Mainsails should be removed for the same reason. If the sail is so big that you can’t handle it yourself, and you have no one to help, add extra sail ties, and thoroughly and tightly lash down the sail cover. The normal securing system of the sail cover, and the normal amount of sail ties used, is not adequate to hold the sail in place during a major storm. If the sail gets loose, it will at least flog itself to death. At worst, it will add enough windage to make your boat drag its ground tackle.

Take off man overboard gear, cockpit cushions, cowl vents, antennas, and halyards, if the halyards can be rerove easily. Internal halyards can be run to the masthead, leaving a single halyard led to deck to allow you to retrieve the others after the storm. No matter how well you tie them off, halyards will flog hell out of your spars, in addition to being more windage. Likewise, masthead instrumentation may simply blow away, particularly your anemometer cups.

Get it Off the Boat

It’s a good idea to take everything that isn’t bolted down off the boat entirely. If a boat does go ashore, it’s a sad but true fact that vandals may make short work of her. Electronics, clocks, barometers, books, navigation gear may all vanish. If you value it, take if off the boat. Chances are that no insurance policy will cover you completely enough to make up for the loss of valuable gear.

Know Your Ground Tackle

Is your mooring really a 1000 pound mushroom with 3/4 ” chain? It may be worth hiring a diver to find out, preferably before a storm threatens. Likewise, all shackles, chains, and mooring pennants should be examined at least once a season to make sure they are in good shape. If the condition of any component of the system is questionable, replace it. If your insurance adjuster sees a corroded through piece of chain or a mooring pennant that is badly worn, he may well be reluctant to approve your claim in case of loss.

In crowded harbors, permanent moorings may lack adequate scope to deal with the high tides associated with storm conditions. It may be possible to increase scope for a storm by replacing or lengthening the mooring pennant. Just as with an anchor, the holding power of a permanent mooring is increased by additional scope.

Some moorings are equipped with large, inflatable surface buoys. The positive flotation of these buoys may reduce the holding power of the mooring in extreme high tides, so it may be worth removing the buoy before a storm; just don’t forget to replace it before casting off the mooring pennant after the storm is over.

At the Dock

As a rule, boats tied to docks are at greater risk than boats kept at moorings or on anchors. Floating docks are rarely strong enough to take the loads exerted on them by boats in storm conditions. In addition, if the tides are extremely high, floating docks may simply float off the pilings which hold them in place.

A boat kept at a dock can’t weathercock (face into the wind) as storm winds change direction. Therefore, the boat at a dock almost always presents more windage than a boat secured to moorings or anchors that is free to swing head to wind.

If your boat must be kept at a dock in a storm, secure the lines to the pilings, rather than to the floating docks. It is best to tie the lines high on the pilings, so they will not be chafed if the docks ride up on the pilings. Instead of using loose bowlines around the pilings, use multiple clove hitches, or a clove hitch finished with two half hitches. That way, the lines will tighten on the pilings, and are unlikely to pull off even if the pilings go under.

Anchored Out

If you have good ground tackle and a good mooring won’t have to worry about crashing into docks, or docks crashing into you. What you will have to worry about is other boats with less adequate ground tackle dragging down on you, either damaging your boat or straining your own ground tackle so much that your boat drags.

The first rule of thumb when anchored or moored during a severe storm is to get out as much ground tackle as possible. You may have a good permanent mooring, but if you back it up with your own anchors, you’re going to have an even better chance of survival.

Usually, it is possible to forecast the likely direction of the strongest winds, even with a hurricane whose exact path is unknown. A good rule of thumb is to deploy your heaviest anchor in the expected direction of the strongest winds, and your second anchor 180 ’ from that. You may want to put your primary anchor upwind of, and at a 45 ’ angle to, the mooring, so there will be less likelihood of chafe between your anchor rode and your mooring chain.

When putting out your anchors, get them as far from the boat as your rodes will allow, leaving yourself perhaps 25 ‘ of line on deck to make adjustments after the anchors are down. The more scope you have out on the anchors, the better they will hold. All anchors hold best when the pull on them is perfectly horizontal. You may increase the holding power of an anchor by 25 % by increasing the scope from 5:1 to 1O:1.

Remember that your biggest anchor does not necessarily have the most holding power in a particular bottom. If you’re anchored in soft mud, a Danforth will have much more holding power than a kedge anchor of the same weight.

Line chafe has probably caused the loss of more boats than any other single factor. Whether you’re moored out or at the dock, your lines must be protected from chafe.

No matter how well polished your bow chocks are, they’re still metal, and are harder than your lines. In a storm lasting several hours, even the smoothest metal fittings will start to wear away your lines. Chafing gear can be made from almost any sacrificial material. Canvas and leather are the traditional materials used, but “sticky dacron” sail repair cloth or even old towelling or T-shirts will do. Old denim blue jeans cut in strips make exceptionally good chafing gear.

Chafing gear won’t do any good if it won’t stay in place. The best chafing gear is undoubtedly leather sewn over the lines, but if you’re preparing for a storm, it’s too late to be elegant. Duct tape-plenty of it-will do in a pinch.

You can also tie the chafing gear on with light nylon, but it, too will chafe.

Chafing gear should cover more of the line than you think will come into contact with a chafing hazard, to allow for fine tuning the lines, to compensate for stretch, and to make up for the fact that the chafing gear may slip under load. In addition, if you are aboard your boat during a storm, you may want to ease out a foot of line now and then to shift the location of chafe slightly.

Whenever possible, key dock lines should be doubled. If one fails, you want a backup. The only danger here is that the deck can quickly become a rat’s nest. In addition, those elegant little cleats may suddenly be too small to take two 3/4” dock lines. It is absolutely impossible for a boat to have cleats that are too large, just as it’s impossible to have anchors that are too big. All it takes is one storm to convince you of that.

Whenever possible, lead heavily loaded lines to winches before belaying them on cleats. Winches are likely to have more fastenings, distributing their load over a larger area of deck. Distributing the loads between a winch and a cleat can be a tricky business. Normally, when using a winch you take three turns around it, so that almost all the load is carried by the winch. Using only one or two turns on the winch allows more load to be carried by the cleat.

Don’t carry a lot of heavily loaded lines to a single cleat. That’s like putting all your eggs in one basket. If the cleat goes, the boat goes. This is when multiple cleats on the bow pay off. You can lead each anchor or mooring line to a separate cleat, not only making it easier to adjust individual lines, but distributing loads better.

Through bolted cleats are designed to be loaded in sheer; that is, with the load parallel to the cleat and perpendicular to the fastenings. When the load becomes a tension load-vertical to the fastenings-you’re headed for trouble. Watch the leads of lines carefully to load hardware properly. Sometimes, a strong snatch block can be used to deflect loading to a better angle, or to reduce chafe. For storm-induced loads, don’t use a block to change a lead more than about 45 ‘. You’re likely to induce loads on the block or its point of attachment that it just can’t handle.

Lines may well pop out of open bow chocks as the boat pitches. It may be possible to lash lines into chocks by passing a light line under the bow or to adjacent hardware. Closed chocks work better, but once again you have to watch the direction of loading. Closed chocks are designed to be loaded downward, not upward. If you put a tension load on the chock’s fastenings, they may pull out of the deck.

Obviously, the strength of your deck hardware is extremely important, and the time to check it out is before there is a danger of storms. Proper backing plates, proper bolts, and strength of the deck and the fitting itself are critical. Winter is a good time to crawl around under the deck to check these things out. You’ll sleep a lot easier knowing just how hardware is attached.

Hauling Out

Usually, boatyards are overwhelmed with frantic calls from owners to haul their boats before a hurricane. Hauling may or may not be a good idea. Hauling a boat and leaving the mast in is an invitation to disaster. Hauling at a yard that is only a few feet above water level also may gain little. Putting the boat inside a shed that may blow down also gets you nothing.

By all means, if your boat is trailerable, get it out of the water. Tow it to high ground, but don’t park it under a tree!

On or Off the Boat?

If your boat is on an anchor or mooring, you may increase its chances of survival by staying on the boat. You may be able to fend off a boat dragging down, adjust a critical line, take the load off the ground tackle by running the engine. You also increase your chances of getting killed or injured. Boats are replaceable; people are not.

There is no easy answer to this one. Few things are more heartbreaking than watching another boat chafe through your anchor lines while you’re helpless on the shore. Few things are more terrifying than being aboard a boat that is dragging down to destruction on a granite seawall that towers over your head.

Should You Move Your Boat?

One of the most basic questions is whether your boat should be moved to another harbor. Most regions have protected anchorages known as hurricane holes. The only problem is that usually these are known to everyone, and may become so crowded when a major storm threatens that they become more dangerous than a more exposed anchorage.

Moving to a hurricane hole early is no guarantee of safety. You may get the best spot, but there’s no way to keep someone from anchoring right on top of you. If you think all boat owners are a generous and gentlemanly bunch, you haven’t seen them in time of stress when their boats are endangered.

You must realistically assess your chances for survival wherever you are. If strong southerlies are forecast in a harbor whose north end is a stone wall, you’d better think about moving elsewhere, or at least moving as close under the weather shore as is practical. Don’t forget to allow for changes in wind direction, however.

The wind itself is usually less of a problem than high tides and waves which reduce scope and increase chafe as the boat surges. If you’re behind a seawall which is only 5 ‘ above mean high water, a storm which comes at high tide is likely to submerge the breakwater, exposing you to the full force of wind and waves.

Use common sense. Try to imagine what will happen to docks, pilings, seawalls, and the other boats around you. What happens when the wind shifts? What if the docks come loose? Don’t move your boat until you have a coherent plan, and only if you can say with confidence that the place you have chosen is better than the place you are. An exposed location with a bottom that has good holding characteristics may be better than a protected location with lousy holding, if you have adequate ground tackle.

If you’ve done all you can to secure the boat-reducing windage, removing valuable gear, putting out extra lines, chafing gear, anchors-then you have done all that is reasonable to ask to prepare your boat to meet a storm in port. Get off the boat with a clear conscience, but try to stay as close as possible during the storm, as long as you don’t risk your life. If your boat does come ashore, you may be able to reduce damage or prevent vandalism if you’re close at hand. We have no sympathy for those who call the boatyard a few days after a storm to find out if their boat has survived.

One last thing to do is to take pictures of your preparations. If your insurance company questions the loss of your boat, it helps to have pictures of how you’ve prepared her. It may also help to prove a loss.

Mentally preparing for a storm in port is a lot like thinking about your emergency equipment. It may be unpleasant to think you’ll ever need it, but if you do, it’s nice to be familiar with how it works and what it can do. Careful preparation of your boat won’t guarantee its survival, but it will give it a far better chance.


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Should You Drop Anchor in a Storm?

Anchoring your boat is always possible with the right equipment (traditional anchors or “sea anchors”), but it isn’t always safe to do so during inclement weather. You should never take your boat out if there is a storm coming in, but sometimes they can take you by surprise. At that point, you may be wondering whether or not to drop anchor to ride out the storm.

When a storm hits, boaters will either secure their boat at a marina, anchor it, or ride the storm out. If you are in shallow enough water, you should drop anchor to keep it from drifting out to sea or into rocks and other boats. This is especially true if your engine dies during the storm.

It is especially important to note that when you anchor during a storm, do not anchor off of the stern because it can cause damage to the rudders, their shafts, and the shaft logs. The boat was constructed to point its bow towards the waves and wind to offset resistance to the elements. If you point the stern at the oncoming waves and wind, it increases the resistance of the air, water, and ultimately the gear, which needs to be working while boating during a storm.

How to Drop Anchor for a Storm

The first thing you should do when preparing to drop anchor for a storm is to check your surroundings. You don’t want to be near other boats when a storm is coming because anchors can drag and allow boats to crash into each other.

Check downwind to make sure there aren’t any other hazards in that direction. You want your boat to be blown away from hazards like rocks and other boats when the wind hits.

Position your boat in the correct place for anchoring. If you can, dive down and check the type of bottom that the anchor will be set on. The ideal type of sea floor for anchoring is sand because it provides the most traction for the anchor to stay in place. If it’s in grass, you may want to move it because the anchor could accrue an excess of grass and mud if it drags and that won’t let it set as well when it comes to a stop again.

Next up, determine your scope, which is the ratio between the length of the line attached to your anchor (rode: The rode is the line that connects the anchor to the boat) in relation to the depth of the water. Keep the freeboard in mind as well, which is the distance between the deck and the water. Experts suggest using a ratio of 3 to 5 times the depth for this, so if you are in water that is 20 feet deep, then you will use 80 feet of rode using a 4x ratio.

If there is a storm, increase that ratio to allow for more movement. Many people increase it to a ratio of 7 to 8 times the depth, but only if it is safe to do so. Alternatively, providing too much rode can be catastrophic by causing the boat to sail off the anchor or allowing it to hit other boats or hazards.

Once the storm hits, the rode will be pulled back by the wind and the waves will push it up and down. The more line you have out to your anchor, the less the rode will jerk up and out. Keep in mind that the more rode you use, the more of a horizontal pull there will be on the anchor. Similarly, less rode will cause a more vertical pull. Using extra rode will make your anchor more likely to drag and reset rather than get pulled through the water.

Many people purchase additional items to ensure safety and reliability of the anchor during a storm. Some of these things include a snubber or bridle with anti-chafing guards to reduce the stress on the windless mechanisms and anchor alarms to let you know if you are dragging.

When you have finished dropping anchor, remove any wind-catching items on the boat that may cause it to drag in certain directions. This includes pulling down your sprayhood, bimini, cockpit enclosures, and anything else that would be damaged by the wind.

Should I Use Two Anchors in a storm?

Many people in larger boats will use two anchors when confronting a storm. If you are using two, the heaviest anchor should be placed towards the wind so that the boat will have the safest gear in front of you regardless if the wind changes direction or not.

Setting the second anchor comes after determining which direction the wind will likely go. If you expect it to gust to the right, then set the second anchor on the right. Turn the boat in the direction where you’ll place the second anchor and move forward. Keep going until you have gone the same distance upwind that the first anchor went.

Once you place the second anchor, fall back on the rode freely. You have to play out the rode from the first anchor in order to properly set the second one. Once you’ve done that, drop off on the second rode and back down on the first one until the first anchor has been reset, which is necessary to ensure safety. Slacken the two rodes until you have an 8-10 to 1 scope.

After all of this is done and if you are able to do so before the storm hits, dive back down to check that the anchors have set well so you know they will hold during bad weather.

Final Thoughts

To conclude, the safest thing you should do before taking your boat out is to check the weather. It is not always possible to tell when a storm will come because they happen out of nowhere sometimes, but the best thing you can do is be prepared with knowledge on what to do if you do find yourself in a storm.

Equip your boat with safety devices like snubbers or bridles with anti-chafing guards and anchor alarms to give you the best chance of success for enduring a storm. Knowledge and preparation are the key factors for doing this and should be the priority for every boating trip regardless of weather.

sailboat storm anchor

PE Luke Full Service Boatyard in East Boothbay Maine

Boat Service, Repair, Restoration and Storage

 (207) 633-4971

15 Lukes Gulch, E Boothbay, ME 04544

3 Piece Luke Storm Anchors

3 Piece Luke Storm anchor disassembled

The 3 Piece Luke Storm Anchor is based on the fisherman style anchor.   Ours is different because it fully disassembles and can be stored in an out of the way location such as the bilge.  It works extraordinarily well on rocky or coral bottoms, and bottoms thick with kelp and other marine growth.

We manufacture our anchors from US ductile iron which we have galvanized, making them both rugged and rust resistant.

The traditional recommendation is two pounds per foot of waterline.  Our best advice is to choose a size you can and will use.  If deploying and retrieving the anchor under adverse conditions intimidates you, buy a size you can manage.  Strategic use of a  windlass  can help wrangle an anchor into a dinghy for easier taking apart.

We suggest a boat keeps a few anchors for a variety of bottom conditions.  Different designs are good for different bottoms.  Ours tends to work well where others do not.

Assembling and disassembling 3 Piece Luke Storm Anchors.

Anchor Quote

Looking for a custom quote for a Paul E Luke boat anchor? Please complete this form and we will be sure to get back to you!

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Breaking News

Joe biden’s new ‘boat anchor’ shoes meant for maximum ‘stability’ as president’s falls spark concern.

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It’s gotta be the shoes.

President Biden’s new footwear has fed rumors that the 81-year-old incumbent needs  extra stability following a series of falls and stumbles .

Biden has recently been photographed sporting a black pair of Hoka Transport sneakers with his formal suits rather than more traditional dress shoes.

The Hokas are meant for “hiking,” “walking” and “lifestyle” and feature a “quick-toggle lace … designed for easy on and off,” according to the product website — which offers the shoes for between $150 and $200 per pair and also advertises “neutral” stability for wearers who want “a symmetrical bed of cushion.”

The sneakers also boast a seal of approval from the American Podiatric Association as being good for foot health, a benefit which could come in handy for Biden after his recent  physical revealed  he suffers from a “stiffened gait.”

Eagle-eyed observers first noticed the new shoes in late February, about the same time the president received his annual exam.

Social media users have been quick to wonder  if the sneakers were prescribed to  mitigate the president’s several falls .

Joe Biden walks towards Marine One as he departs the White House in Washington, DC, USA.

Biden has especially struggled going up and down the steps of Air Force One, repeatedly slipping and stumbling while ascending to and  descending from his official plane .

After a series of near-pratfalls, the president has opted to use retractable stairs at the back of the plane for boarding — rather than the regular longer steps at the front of the aircraft.

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Biden’s slips culminated in an  ugly tumble at the Air Force Academy commencement exercises in June last year, in which he tripped on a sandbag and fell heavily to the stage.

Close-up of black shoes worn by US President Joe Biden during his meeting of the Competition Council at the State Dining Room, White House.

Politico first reported on Biden’s increasing use of tennis shoes back in January, citing a source close to the president who said Biden used to “resist” wearing the casual shoes because he was concerned about not looking presidential enough — but eventually conceded for reasons of comfort.

White House deputy press secretary Andrew Bates claimed Wednesday that Biden uses the active footwear to help him stay fit.

“I know y’all aren’t partial to presidents who exercise, but don’t worry — you’ll get used to it,” Bates told The Post, apparently alluding to former President Donald Trump.

Biden participates in physical therapy to increase his “core stability” at least “four to five times a week,” according to the report from his annual physical.

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Joe Biden walks towards Marine One as he departs the White House in Washington, DC, USA.


sailboat storm anchor


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