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Blue Water Supplies Limited. Jersey, Channel Islands  Tel.+44(0)1534 739594

Blue Water Equipment Specialists

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© Blue Water Supplies Limited 2002-2010

New Generation Anchors - Explained, Compared & Rated 

 

A new generation anchor is one that meets the following criteria.

  • It always positions itself correctly - if it falls upside down, it automatically turns over under natural conditions.
  • It turns with the wind and tide without pulling free.
  • It offers good holding power and will not pull out.
  • It will grip on to rock and coral if at all possible.

All new generation anchors to date are derivatives of the Bugel, the Spade or a combination of both.  (It is worth noting that the traditional fisherman’s anchor virtually satisfies the first two criteria and only the surface area of the flukes determines how well it will satisfy the third).

Examples of New Generation Anchors are Bugel, SPADE, Rocna, Wasi, Manson Supreme, SARCA, Oceane and SWORD.

Bugel Features

  • Roll Bar to turn anchor
  • Sharp tip to gain rapid penetration

SPADE Features

  • Angled Ballast Chamber (Patented) - Ensures optimum penetrating angle every time and best possible weight distribution.
  • Hollow Triangular Shank Profile (Patented) – Extremely strong without upsetting weight distribution.
  • Concave Blade (Double concave form patented) – Optimum holding power.
  • “Ears” – To prevent blade edge penetration

 The key difference between the two concepts is that Bugel relies on force on the anchor rode to move the anchor into a penetrating position (assisted penetration) whilst the SPADE uses weight distribution and an angled ballast chamber to ensure the optimum angle for penetration (passive penetration) even before any force is applied.  This not only maximises chance of penetration but means the anchor does not have a chance to gather weed before it penetrates.  An anchor that has to move at all risks sliding especially flat bottomed anchors such as the SARCA and Bugel.  The SPADE, however will normally penetrate within its own length.  The reason why some of the SPADE’s have not been replicated by other manufacturers is that they are still protected under patent.

Holding Power isn’t any good if the anchor can’t penetrate.

Holding power is a result of anchor form, pulling angle and surface area.  It therefore follows that an anchor with more of its weight in surface area can offer greater holding power once penetrated than one which has weight in lead ballast.  However this holding power is of little use if the anchor has not penetrated properly.  Also an anchor with too greater surface area for a given boat size will fail to penetrate properly in the first place leaving it vulnerable to sudden shocks.  It is therefore right to choose an anchor with the right surface area.  SPADE anchor guidelines have proved extremely accurate.  For anchors without a ballast chamber, like the Sword, Rocna and Supreme you may choose a slightly larger surface area to make up for the loss of weight but not too big.  Please do not be misled by anchor tests that show that these ballast-free anchors have greater holding power than the SPADE as they also have poorer penetrating ability in difficult seabeds and the Spade’s surface area is always enough for the boat for which it is recommended.

 

Rating

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Bugel (Wasi) Anchor

This anchor has been around for some time.  It is wonderfully simple design with a huge following.  A flat blade is shaped to form a sharp point, whilst a roll bar (originally patented by Peter Bruce) ensures that the anchor always falls the right way up.  Once a load is applied to the rode, the anchor adopts the optimum angle for penetration and its sharp point will penetrate most bottoms with ease.

For
·         
Simple Design – Cheap and easy to manufacture.
·          Excellent Performance in a wide range of Bottoms.

Against
·         
Roll bar and blade shape takes weight away from the tip.
·         
Flat blade does not offer maximum holding power.
·         
Flat bottom can slide on very slippery seabeds.

Many cheap copies on the market that are not strong enough

Rating

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PREMIUM PRODUCT

SPADE High Performance Anchor

This anchor was designed to be the ultimate performance anchor.  A triangular, truly convex blade, coupled with a wedge shaped ballast chamber.  The chamber not only ensures that the anchor adopts the right angle for penetration, but positions a massive 50% of the anchors total weight over the tip.  A hollow triangular box section is used in the removable shank, to ensure high strength without compromising weight distribution.  It is available in aluminium, galvanised or stainless steel. 

For
·
          Best Penetrating ability in a wide range of seabeds.
·          Passive penetration
·          “Ears” to prevent edge penetration
·          Very high holding power.
·          Extremely strong.
·          Fits most conventional bow rollers.
·          Dismantleable for easy stowage
·          Proven to be the best all round anchor on the market.

Against
·          Expensive to manufacture, therefore high retail price.
·          Smaller surface area for a given weight than some other new generation anchors due to ballast chamber.

Rating

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Océane Anchor (By SPADE) 

Developed by the makers of the SPADE as a cheaper alternative to the existing anchor, the Océane was a clever design.  The SPADE’s concave blade was used without the ballast chamber.  A weighted tip was created by dropping the shank onto the tip of the blade rather than the back.  This rounded shank, coupled with he rounded edge at the back of the blade ensured that the anchor always flipped the right way up. With the majority of its weight in surface area, it offers significantly greater holding power for a given weight than the SPADE, so a lighter anchor can be carried. Unfortunately, the new design meant that the tip of the anchor came close to the boat’s bow on recovery, so a knuckle was added, giving the anchor its ugly looks.  Whilst it performed well in a wide range of conditions, the short shank (for rolling the anchor) meant that a technique was needed to ensure penetration.  The Océane has now been superseded by the SWORD. 

For
·
          High holding power (especially for weight – almost equivalent to an aluminium SPADE)
·
          Cheap construction and low retail price
·
          “Ears” to prevent edge penetration 

Against
·
          Crude Construction and Rather Ugly
·
          Larger sizes cumbersome to handle and stow
·
          A technique required to set in some conditions
·
           Assisted penetration only

Rating

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SARCA Sand and Rock Combination Anchor 

The Sand And Rock Combination Anchor, was a development of the Bugel.  Its inclusion as an new generation anchor is questionable due to its shallow convex blade and its performance is not particularly good but it did introduce the idea of a slot to allow the anchor to be tripped out.  This is only really useful for picnic anchoring as there is always a risk that the anchor may trip itself in the night. 
 

For
·
          Slot for tripping anchor. 

Against
·
          Poor performance for a new generation anchor.
·
          Slightly convex blade.
·
          Can trip itself.Poor penetration in certain seabeds.
·          Requires modified bow roller.
·
          Assisted penetration only

Rating

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ROCNA

Another New Zealand anchor, the ROCNA at first glance seems to be a strange combination of a Delta shank, Bugel roll bar and a reversed SARCA blade.  This is however a clever combination, ensuring that not only does the anchor adopt the right angle for penetration, but the chined concave blade give SPADE like holding power.

For
·         
Concave shaped Blade
·         
Reasonable surface area
·         
Standard Shank Profile
·         
Ears to prevent edge penetration
·         
Well made

Against
·        
  Roll bar gives poorer weight distribution
·         
Assisted penetration only

Rating

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Manson SUPREME

Yet another New Zealand anchor, that makes no secret of its SPADE-like properties.  Very similar to the ROCNA but with the superficial inclusion of a slot for tripping the anchor in rock.  The advantages of this are questionable as it could be argued that it weakens the shank.  This is virtually a copy of the ROCNA although some tests have shown it not to perform as well.

For
·         
Concave shaped Blade
·         
Reasonable surface area
·         
Standard Shank Profile
·         
Ears to prevent edge penetration
·         
Slot for tripping anchor
·          Sharpened tip

Against
·        
  Roll bar gives poorer weight distribution
·         
Assisted penetration only

 

Rating

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BEST BUDGET BUY

SWORD Anchor

The latest offering from SPADE, this anchor really is something special.  The clever shank profile and pulling angle give unrivalled holding power and the anchor is designed to adopt the right angle for penetration without a roll bar to take weight away from where it is needed.  Tests have shown that the anchor penetrates leaving little or no wake in the seabed, demonstrating its efficiency.

For
·         
Concave shaped Blade
·         
Excellent surface area/weight ratio – Unrivalled holding power
·         
Good weight distribution
·         
“Ears” to prevent edge penetration

Against
·          No ballast chamber
·          Assisted penetration only

PLEASE NOTE: We must point out that we are UK distributors for SPADE, Océane and Sword anchors and that the star ratings are not based on an independent test but on a combination of independent test results and by careful assessment of the anchor properties.  For example whilst both the ROCNA and Manson anchors are excellent, their roll bar means that they do not share the same weight distribution properties as either the SPADE or SWORD. Many anchor tests are poorly conducted and therefore cannot offer a complete picture.  For example a recent test by YM showed that a Fortress anchor did particularly well, when it is well known that these anchors frequently pull free when the tide turns.  This guide is intended to give you a better idea of the differences between the various new generation anchors so that you may make an informed choice.

 

Other Considerations with New Generation anchors 

It is inevitable that as anchor performance is improved, other problems can arise.  In its simplest form it is natural that as holding power increases the strength of rope, chain and connectors have to be increased accordingly but this is only the beginning. 

Anchor break-out may be more difficult.  It is a mistake to motor an anchor out as damage may occur to the anchor.  If break out is proving difficult, it is advisable to shorten the scope as much as possible and leave the boat to bring the anchor to the surface of the seabed slowly – 10 minutes is normally adequate.

SHOCK LOADS 

One of the key problems experienced with New Generation anchors is snatch loads caused by chain.  Traditionally we have been taught that the use of chain, works as a shock absorber; the weight and centenary ensuring the pulling angle is low.  This is partially true and chain has been used successfully for years with ship anchors relying totally on the weight of the chain. The use of all chain rode with pleasure boats is another story and the true causes of the problems are only now coming to light thanks  to new generation anchors. 

Contrary to traditional thinking chain does not absorb shock but conduct it.  To visualise this imagine two people holding a length of chain stretched between them.  If one of them introduces a “wave” down the chain, the other person will probably have the chain snatched out of their hands as soon as the wave reaches them unless they absorb the shock, in the same way as a cricketer absorbs the force of catching a cricket ball.

So with an anchor chain, it is reasonable to assume that whilst in moderate conditions a chain will act as desired, in extreme conditions the chain will go tight and transfer significant shock down to the anchor.

In the past this has not been a significant problem as most anchors simply “slip” a bit to absorb the shock but will eventually break out and drag.  New generation anchors however have enormous holding power and do not give.  To visualise this, imagine a parachutist who does not absorb the shock of landing by bending his legs… the result would be catastrophic.  Similarly an anchor that does not move in this situation will have to absorb enormous loads.

 Now lets go back to the people and their chain; imagine if rather than having a second person holding the end of the chain, it is instead attached to a strongpoint on a wall, a wave introduced down a tight chain will be reflected back up the chain. This is exactly what will happen with a new generation anchor.  It is therefore not unreasonable to assume that a shock load that is reflected by the anchor could meet a new shock load coming from the surface.  The two shock loads could combine to form a mega shock load and so on.  It is therefore imperative that new generation anchors are extremely strong together with their associated ground tackle.  If this reflection is allowed to continue, it is evitable that at some point the loads will exceed breaking loads and something will give. 

The solution is to include a shock absorber in the rode. In exactly the same way as a car’s suspension stops it shaking itself to pieces, an anchor rode can be designed to prevent shock forces from building up.  The easiest way to do this is to use a rope/chain combination as the nylon will absorb the shock.  In the even that an all chain rode must be used, a 10m nylon snubber should be used, ideally with a chain hook that pulls in the direction of the chain such as the SwissTech chain Hook. 

This will absorb shock when at anchor but care must still be taken when recovering an anchor.  Imagine a situation where you are at anchor when the conditions worsen.  You decide to move to another anchorage but as you recover it is likely that you are about to introduce the worst possible scenario into your anchor chain – a tight anchor chain with surface waves introducing multiple shock loads into your rode.  It is not practical to have a shock absorber at the anchor end and 90% of the time the situation presents no problems if the tackle is sufficiently strong.  If however you have turned while at anchor it is possible that you anchor may be facing a different direction.  If it receives a sudden shock from the wrong angle, it is possible that a shank can bend.  This has occurred with a few aluminium SPADE anchors and for this reason we no longer recommend the use of aluminium SPADE anchors as a main anchor unless an adequate risk assessment has been carried out.  It is recommended that if you think you have turned at anchor, before recovery, you pull gently on your rode to correct the direction of the anchor.

 

 

The World's Best Anchors Explained 

Anchor Classification

Although there are many different types of anchor most can be classified depending onto its characteristics and how well they meet the 7 factors that make a good anchor.

 

1.       The anchor must dig in fast every time.

2.       The anchor must bury deep. 

3.       The anchor must give the maximum holding power without dragging. 

4.     The anchor must offer a constant resistance to movement – even is it moves under extreme load. 

5.      The anchor must hold despite wind or current shifts. 

6.       The anchor rode must not be able to snag the anchor. 

7.       The anchor must be strong enough to withstand very high loads. 

 

Please note that the ratings given above are relative to the physical size of the anchor and not the weight.  An anchor with no ballast such as a Sword or Manson Supreme can give a higher holding power for a given weight than a SPADE for example, due to a larger surface area but the lack of ballast will give poorer weight distribution and penetration in difficult seabeds.

 


1.       The anchor must dig in fast every time.

            In order to bury fast an anchor needs to have the right angle for penetration every time, this can be achieved by two methods.  Anchors such as a plough anchor only land at the right angle about 50% of the time and therefore fail in this area.

a) The SPADE is the only anchor to adopt the right angle naturally every single time by using the weight distribution and an angled ballast chamber.  This also positions 50% of its weight over the tip ensuring penetration even in difficult seabeds such as kelp.

b) Other anchors such as the Rocna, Supreme and Sword use a combination of a righting device and the pull on the rode to ensure rapid penetration.  This is extremely effective in all but the most slippery seabeds.  The righting device can be a roll bar or as with the Sword and Océane, a combination of shank and blade curves.  A roll bar takes weight away from the tip, relying more on the force pulling on the rode to achieve effective penetration.

2.       The anchor must bury deep. 

The deeper an anchor buries, the greater the mass of seabed above the anchor and therefore the greater the holding power.  Concave anchors can be made to bury further than convex anchors which tend to plough just below the surface. (Flat anchors fall between the two).

3.       The anchor must give the maximum holding power without dragging. 

Holding power is achieved as a result of surface area, blade profile and the depth the anchor has buried.  Some anchors with large surface areas will bury well in sand but fail to penetrate deep enough in more difficult seabeds.  Concave offers better holding than flat which in turn is better than convex.

4.     The anchor must offer a constant resistance to movement – even is it moves under extreme load. 

A convex anchor, once set, will offer a high initial resistance but once the force is sufficient enough, it will pull free.  Concave anchors move earlier but bury deeper rather than pull free.  Eventually they will reach a point where they cannot bury further so they offer a constant resistance to movement.

5.      The anchor must hold despite wind or current shifts. 

Concave anchors with a fixed shank are generally roll stable and will not break out.  Convex anchors have a greater chance of breaking out due to the fact that they do not bury as deeply and a sudden wind-shift can cause break out.  Flat (Danforth) style anchors have two penetrating tips, which invariably makes the anchor roll out during wind shifts.

6.       The anchor rode must not be able to snag the anchor. 

Anchors that do not turn instantly can become fouled by their own anchor rode, causing them to fail.  This is not a problem associated with new generation anchors.

7.              The anchor must be strong enough to withstand very high loads.

This is particularly important with new generation anchors that offer greater holding power.  Chain can carry high shock waves from the surface when tight and an anchor that does not move can reflect these waves back up the chain.  It is theoretically possible for a reflected wave to combine with a new shock wave coming down the chain to create a mega shock wave.  This can produce enormous loads at the anchor.  Anchor shanks should be strong enough to take the large loads.  SPADE anchor shanks (except the 2 smallest sizes) are made of a hollow triangular box section to create a super-strong shank without compromising weight distribution.

 Anchor Classification

Class 1 – New Generation anchors with passive penetration and grip-ability

·
          It always positions itself correctly - if it falls upside down, it automatically turns over under natural conditions.
·
          It turns with the wind and tide without pulling free.
·
          It offers good holding power and will not pull out.
·
          Force applied at tip even without force on anchor rode.
·
          Good weight distribution
·
          Natural angle of attack.
·
          Will grip on coral or rocks 

Examples:- SPADE 

Class 2 – New Generation anchors with requiring active penetration with Grip-ability.

·          It always positions itself correctly - if it falls upside down, it automatically turns over under natural conditions.
·
          It turns with the wind and tide without pulling free.
·
          It offers good holding power and will not pull out.
·
          Requires force to be applied to rode to adopt penetrating angle and force to be applied at penetrating tip.
 
·          Will grip on coral or rocks 

Examples:- Océane, Sword, Rocna, Manson Supreme, Bugel, Wasi, SARCA 

Class 3 – Roll stable anchors that always adopt correct position with grip-ability

·          It always positions itself correctly - if it falls upside down, it automatically turns over under natural conditions.
·
          It turns with the wind and tide without pulling free.
·
          May not have significant surface area and therefore poorer holding power. 
·
          Normally relies more on weight than surface area.
·          Will grip on coral or rocks 

 Examples:- Fisherman’s 

Class 4 – Roll Stable Anchors offering high holding power with poor grip-ability

·          Does not normally roll out on turning of tide. (Anchors that are not concave will pull out at some point and this is more likely to occur when the tide turns).
·
          May not right itself if it lands on its side.
·
          Offers Significant holding power and minimal risk once set.
·          Unlikely to give reliable grip on coral or rocks. 

Examples:- Brake, Stealth 

Class 5 – Roll Stable Anchors offering reasonable penetrating ability and grip ability but poor holding power

·          Does not normally roll out on turning of tide.
·
          May not right itself if it lands on its side.
·
          Offers reasonable holding power but will pull free under high loads dur to low surface area in direction of pull.
·
          Reset possible after break-out, but unlikely in weed.

Examples:- Bruce, Claw etc.

Class 6 – Roll Stable Anchors offering reasonable holding power

·          Does not normally roll out on turning of tide. (Anchors that are not concave or without adequate surface area will pull out at some point and this is more likely to occur when the tide turns).
·
          May not right itself if it lands on its side.
·
          Offers reasonable holding power but will pull free under high loads.
·
          Reset possible after break-out
·          Unlikely to give reliable grip on coral or rocks. 
 

 Examples:- Delta, Bruce, Kobra, Shark, FOB Rock,  

Class 7 – Non roll stable anchors offering reasonable or significant holding power

·          High holding power once set.
·
          High risk of rolling out on wind or tide shifts
·
          Possibility of break out under extreme loads.
·
          After break out may adopt position where anchor can not reset.
 

Examples:- CQR, Danforth, Fortress, Brittany, FOB, FOB Lite etc. 

Class 8 – Anchors that offer poor penetrating and holding properties but reasonable grip on rocks coral etc.

·          Poor penetrating
·
          Poor Holding
·
          Poor Roll stability.
·
          Weight reliant
 
·          Barbs etc. to grip

Examples:- Grapnel etc.

Class 9 – Anchors that offer poor penetrating and holding properties and no ability to grip on rocks coral etc.

·          Poor penetrating
·
          Poor Holding
·
          Poor Roll stability.
·
          Weight reliant
 

THIS CLASSIFICATION IS WORK IN PROGRESS AND COMMENTS ARE WELCOME.