Upgrading the Bow Anchor

A while back, the various types of anchors carried on Wisdom was discussed here. In that article, we talked about our primary bow anchor being the Bruce anchor. The bow anchor is a very special anchor because it is the go to anchor. This anchor is the first to go down and needs to work perfectly in the typical conditions where you will be anchoring. 

The Primary Bow Anchor lives in the bow roller and is always connected to the all chain rode. Accessory anchors are attached to supplemental anchor rodes, typically being made of all rope or chain and rope combinations. For years, the Bruce was the primary bow anchor on Wisdom as it has always held us well in the Chesapeake Bay. This anchor has held without fault during gales in unprotected anchorages and let us sleep peacefully night after night. 

You might be wondering why I would swap out a perfectly good anchor for a different anchor that needs to be purchased? The answer lies in the rode. I always let out an excessive amount of chain when we anchor.  The typical night time hook will be 7:1, and a storm anchoring will be 10:1 or greater! We were once in a gale with 290 feet of chain in 10 feet of water. 

Yes, the Bruce held fine, but it was more likely that the chain held fine and the Bruce was an ornament at the end of the line. Since we carry 300 feet of chain, anchoring with lots of chain is possible for us, we simply let it run out when we arrive in the anchorage for longer. The problem comes in the morning.

We have a manual windlass which means that I need to crank all that chain up every morning. If we let out 200 feet of chain, I now need to crank in 200 feet of chain! While morning exercise is always good, Maddie is usually sleeping right under the windlass and the 200 feet of chain being cranked in is anything but peaceful. 

We were talking with a friend who has a modern anchor and usually anchors with 3:1 scope for a night time hook. If we were in 18 feet of water, 10:1 is 180 feet of chain, 3:1 is only 54 feet. The thought of cranking in an extra 130 feet of chain made Maddie and I consider modern anchors and so began the search for an upgraded anchor.

I came across the YouTube channel SV Panope which brilliantly demonstrates how different anchors perform. The creator attached a GoPro to the anchor and then did various tests to see how the anchors behaved. Instead of testing the anchors in an appropriate method, the creator tested the anchors in the most abusive way possible (on purpose).

He would set the anchor with a very short scope and then pull hard on them with the engine. Then he would move directly over the anchor with considerable speed and see if he could get the anchor to reset or drag. He also did an interesting test called "Reducing Scope" where he would anchor, test, shorten the scope, re-test, shorten the scope, re-test, etc., until the anchor fails to reset. 

This sort of abusive test will reveal any short comings in the anchor and make the true champions shine! The old style anchors performed well, but failed under the torture tests; the modern anchors, on the other hand, managed to work in these harsh testing conditions. 

Finally, my favorite part of the anchor tests is he is not sponsored by any anchor company. This helps reduce bias on his part and ensure a more even testing of the anchors. The anchor tests performed by the companies are horrible tests engineered to showcase their product. Rocna tests always show Rocna as the best, Mantus tests always show Mantus as the best, Manson tests always show Manson as the best, etc. SV Panope tests are unbiased and truly showcase the abilities of the different anchors.

In the videos, it appeared that Manson had some trouble resetting, while Rocna and Mantus performed rather well in the reducing scope and reset tests. Both Rocna and Mantus anchors have the undesirable ability to bend their shank. This occurs because the anchor sets so deeply that the fluke will not rotate on a tide reversal. The fluke remains steady while the boat swings by and the shank bends from the force. This is more common in aluminum anchors, such as Fortress brand anchors, but it can still happen to galvanized steel anchors. Rocna anchors are welded together where Mantus are bolted together.

The difference comes down to service-ability. Should the shank bend while cruising, welded anchors can not be repaired, they must be replaced. If we chose a Rocna and the shank bent, we would need to purchase a new anchor. If the shank on a Mantus were to bend, all we would need to do is contact the manufacturer and have a new shank sent to us! The ability to repair the anchor while cruising is a very appealing feature that the Mantus anchor affords us.  

Looking at the two anchors, you can see the sharp demarcation in size between the two. The Mantus offers significantly more surface area in the fluke to hold the bottom when compared to the Bruce. The tip of the Mantus is also weighted to help drive it deep under the seabed. 

The Bruce tends to lay on its side, so only half of the flukes are under the seabed, while the Mantus is designed to bury the entire fluke and hold with all its might. 

This comparison is not completely fair though. The Bruce is 20kg, and the Mantus is 30kg. Naturally, the Mantus is going to be larger as it has 33% more mass. When we chose to upgrade the primary bow anchor, we also chose to upgrade the weight of the anchor at the same time. The mantra: "No one ever slept poorly because their anchor was too heavy" kept our minds determined to purchase a heavier anchor, as well as a modern design.

Note how much more expensive the Stainless Steel anchor is compared to the same size Galvanized anchor.

Larger anchors come at a price, they are bigger! The chain chock is located on the bow at the length of the old 20kg Bruce's shank. This means that the 30kg Mantus's shank is too long. Our options were simple, relocate the chain chock or tie the shank to the toe rail.

Being how the chain chock is a block of teak through bolted to the deck and does not leak, we opted to tie the shank to the toe rail and keep it running along side the chain chock. When we go to anchor, the Mantus is simply slid out on the roller and released when the time is right. Until then, it remains tied to the bow awaiting deployment.

It's a bit of a tight squeeze, but we managed to get the 30kg Mantus to fit on the bow roller without much movement. Retrieval will be a bit more complicated as we need to tie the lashing and pull the anchor into position each time it is raised, but this is only to bring the anchor further into the bow. It can just as well hang out further on the roller awaiting its next deployment.

You might be wondering what will become of the old Bruce? It will live out the rest of its life as our secondary anchor. Should the Mantus shank bend, we will switch to the Bruce as we await the delivery of the new shank. In the meantime, the Bruce will continued to be cared for as a supplemental anchor aboard Wisdom.