On our Lightwave 10.5 we use a 16kg SARCA Excel with 8mm chain as our primary anchor and a Spade, alloy, A80 as a secondary anchor. It depends where we are cruising, but we might also carry a further 13kg Excel. This combination has proven exceptional.We anchor in some locations that can be taxing but neighbouring yachts in the same anchorages commonly employ different anchors including Bruce types (we test the Claw and the Ray here), CQRs, Deltas and Manson Supremes and the owners seem equally happy. Our anchor choice was based on what we thought was the best — but presumably their anchor choice was also their best and maybe their anchors were lighter, or heavier, than recommended — it would not do if we were all the same.In this section we look at the ability of anchors to set and re-set in different seabeds — trying to simulate changes in wind and tide. Simplistically, we set a range of anchors, in the 5kg to 10kg range, then subjected them to pulls of 90 degrees to the setting direction and 180 degrees to the setting direction. We conducted the tests in different seabeds using different loading techniques. We used a small runabout with a 60hp engine to set anchors at about 90kg setting load. We then pulled them at 90 degrees to the setting direction and 180 degrees to the setting direction (causing the anchors to somersault). A 90kg load is slightly more than the load developed if you set an anchor with 50m of 8mm chain in three metres of water and reverse the yacht to just lift all the chain off the seabed. We repeated the tests with a beach-based winch (speed of 0.3kn, max capacity 5T), setting the anchors to 200kg then moving the winch so as to load them at 90 degrees to the original setting direction. 200kg is the maximum snatch load developed in 25-knot winds with 40m of chain and a 10:1 scope. We did a simple set and lift test using Josepheline in a glutinous seamud to test for mud retention and finally we conducted a further beach test where we set and then re-set at 180 degrees.The original idea was to test using Josepheline — but this was inordinately difficult. The other test we attempted was in weed. In heavy weed the only anchor we could get to set was the Super SARCA, but it would not re-set. In lighter weed the Manson Supreme set easily — but we found it difficult to locate enough light weed seabed of the same characteristics to test all the anchors so abandoned this phase.What we testedThe tested anchors (with surface area to weight ratios in brackets) and of higher holding capacity were the Ultra, 6.4kg (64); Spade, 5.7kg (79); Super SARCA 6.9kg (92); Kobra, 4.2kg (80); SARCA Excel (66), 5.1kg; Supreme 4.6kg (90) and of the lower holding capacity Ray, 7.3kg,(62); Delta, 6.7kg (61);, Claw, 8.8kg (34); fisherman, 4.7kg (16), CQR, 9.4kg (40) and Cooper 6.7kg (78).Our winch tests were conducted on a hard granitic sand, in the intertidal area. We were unable to set the Manson Ray, Lewmar Claw, fisherman, Cooper nor CQR. In sand, where we did the runabout testing, we still could not set the Cooper, the fisherman never set deeply and had no holding capacity and the CQR never re-set (the scope was too long). The fisherman would not set in the heavy weed. Based on this we abandoned any detailed work on the CQR, Cooper and fisherman. But in sand the Claw and Ray performed well and set easily in the mud test.First testOur first test, very subjective, was to set each anchor and then find at what point the anchor would stop swivelling in the sand and be forced to somersault. We did this by hand. Simply set the anchor with two of us pulling on the chain/rope rode and then walking round and find at what angle the anchors dragged and somersaulted. For most anchors this occurred at about 150 degrees. We did not employ a sharp pull, simply developed a load slowly to identify when the anchor moved. The exception was the Super SARCA, which did not somersault as such, but at about 120 degrees the trip release operated as designed, the anchor pulled out backwards, turned over, and re-set. The Super SARCA operates exactly as it is designed to do but does this 30 degrees earlier than other anchors will drag/somersault (and considering the care you take to set the anchor originally this ease of self-tripping might not be advantageous). However, this is not a major issue. It is possible to lock the shackle at the end of the shank using a nyloc nut and bolt and the Super SARCA then performs exactly the same way as any other anchor. In real life if you think you need the trip release, say anchoring in the reef, then simply loosen the nyloc nut, slide it forward and tighten. In our test programme the Super SARCA was tested with the bolt installed to stop self-tripping except for one 180-degree test with the winch. The best-performing anchors in this swivelling test were the Spade, Ultra and Kobra — all of which have protruding soles. Whether better swivelling is engendered because of the protuberance or because the centre of gravity is lower and nearer the toe remains unknown. The interface angle, between sliding or swivelling round and somersaulting, of 150 degrees might be seabed type dependent — we did not check, but it merits some further examination.The 90-degree turns, winch/beach or runabout testing all returned the same results. Testing was conducted at 10:1 scope for the winch test and 10:1 for the runabout test. Most anchors, excluding the CQR, simply swivelled in the seabed and re-aligned to the new direction of load. The CQR dragged and would not re-set. There were differences with the other anchors but they might be attributed to limitations of the test technique. They were not that significant and could be due to variations in seabed rather than differences in anchor performance.Again the best performing anchors at 90 degrees were the Kobra, Ultra and Spade but their better performance was not factorially outstanding in comparison with the Delta, Ray, Claw, Super SARCA, SARCA Excel, Supreme and Rocna (we only tested the Rocna with the winch). Basically all anchors have the ability to remain set but swivel in the seabed, both a good sand (ideal for anchoring) and in a hard granitic sand. We did the 90-degree tests with the runabout 3-4 times for each anchor but also used the same technique to test for an ability to reset in a 180-degree turn (two pulls). Basically we drove over the anchor simulating a change in tide or big wind shift. Again all the anchors performed well. They “somersaulted” cleanly and immediately re-set. The only exception was the Claw that on two occasions would not re-set, it simply skated over the sand — but we tested it again on another day, same location and it re-set at 180 degrees without problem. All of the anchors set well initially and then re-set at 180 degrees almost as quickly.We did the same 90-degree winch test, under water in the intertidal zone, and achieved the same results, except the CQR, Claw, Ray, fisherman and Cooper which did not set at all. Though the sand is hard, which is part of the reason why some anchors did not set, those that did set performed as we had found with the runabout test. Anchors simply swivelled and remained set. Again there was no stand-out winners, except the Spade, Ultra and Kobra were better.Soft mudWe then looked at the ability to retain seabed in a soft mud. The tests were conducted from Josepheline in Little Pittwater. The seabed is a soft glutinous mud with bits of decaying twigs and small shells. All the anchors were set to the same load with the same scope (4:1, all chain) at the same depth; we simply changed location slightly. The test was a simple set and lift, using photography to record results. For comparison we have some images of actual anchors having been similarly used to underline that the results are not posed. On retrieval all of the convex anchors, Kobra, SARCA Excel, Delta, Super SARCA all came up clean. The pronounced concave anchors came up with a considerable amounts of mud, being the Supreme, Ray and Claw. The two shallow concave anchors performed slightly differently, the Spade was clean, the Ultra carried some mud. This latter was a surprise because it had been thought the two anchors would perform similarly and the stainless Ultra would be self-cleaning. In all cases the chain was very muddy — and a deck wash essential, even if only for the chain. The fact that the concave anchors held mud did not in any way impact their ability to set; all anchors set well.180-degree-turn testThe final test was our winch/beach 180-degree turn test. We set it up by first setting two large anchors under high load and attaching snatch blocks to each anchor. The anchors were set in water about 100m apart. Using a very long length of wire cable we were able to pull each anchor first toward one winch, then re-set and pull toward the other winch (along the 100m corridor between the two large anchors). The anchors under test were set to 200kg then forced to somersault until re-set to 200kg. We set the two turning anchors with the snatch blocks far apart to ensure each anchor could be tested “down the corridor” in undisturbed seabed. The test was inordinately slow (because we actually only had one snatch block and not enough cable, so needed to drag snatch block and cable about for each pull) and we only managed one pull for each anchor, although we found some anomalous results and did test some anchors twice.We tested the Kobra, Spade, Super SARCA, SARCA Excel, Supreme, Delta, Rocna and Ultra. This test illustrated the problems identified in the mud retention tests. The convex anchors, Delta, Super SARCA, SARCA Excel and Kobra (and the slightly concave Spade) all somersaulted, breaking out of the seabed clean and immediately re-setting to 200kg. Basically there were no performance differences. We did test the Super SARCA again, without the bolt so that it could self-trip, but it performed less well in this mode, taking further from its initial set position to a fully re-set position. This is because it trips and drags in the tripped mode before reversing and allowing the shackle to slide to the shank end. The other convex anchors simply somersault and immediately commence to re-set.The concave anchors, the Supreme and Rocna, performed differently. When they somersaulted the flukes of both were full of impacted seabed. They dragged with their shanks half-buried, fluke to the top, slowly shedding this seabed and it was not until almost clean and the shanks surfaced from the half-buried position that they rolled over and were able to re-set. Subjectively they dragged for 50 percent further than the convex anchors before re-setting. Again the Ultra carried seabed, not much and not enough to affect performance — but enough to raise a minor question.ConclusionsAll anchors are a compromise. In sand all anchors perform well excepting the Cooper that we could not get to set at all, the fisherman which had no capacity (and would not even set in weed) and CQR, which has difficulty re-setting when subjected to change in load orientation. Of the rest in sand all anchors set well and had the ability to reorientate to a change of load direction of both 90 and 180 degrees. There seemed little difference in performance although the anchors with protruding soles, the Kobra, Spade and Ultra, seemed to perform better in the 90-degree turns. The major difference is holding capacity and if you are to anchor under arduous conditions an anchor with higher holding capacity like the Kobra, Spade, Ultra, Supreme, Rocna and the two SARCAs looks the better option. In hard seabeds there might be question marks over the Ray and Claw which with care you might get to set, but might not re-set if forced to re-orientate through 180 degrees but on balance the Ray seemed to perform better — though both do not have high holding capacity. In seabeds capable of high compaction then the concave anchors perform well in 90 degree turns but might have choked and be unable to re-set if forced into a 180-degree turn.Anchors are a very personal choice and owners buy for reasons that are sometimes ill defined. But for those whose preference lies to a concave design the Supreme looks a good all-round performer and is backed by Lloyds Register certification. For those who are part of the “plough” camp, of the convex anchors the Delta is an adequate performer, but low holding capacity, and the Kobra and two SARCAs look a better bet. The Super SARCA and SARCA Excel also enjoy accreditation from Australia’s National Marine Safety Committee. The Kobra works very well but must remain on the sidelines — if only because the shank seems a bit flimsy and no detail is given of shank construction (both the Supreme and Excel are engineered from high-tensile steel of declared quality).The shallow concave anchors, the Spade and Ultra, are both outstanding performers and are both outstandingly expensive. Sadly given that price is part of the decision-making process then the best buys would be the Supreme, for the concave converts and the Excel for the plough diehards. The Super SARCA is a good performer but offers little advantage to a yachtsman over its younger brother, the Excel, unless you anchor in the reef frequently (and you should not be anchoring in coral anyway). But if you have an old-style anchor and do not intend anchoring under arduous conditions then simply incorporate a proper snubber because this will be a major addition to your ground tackle.We did not test “all” anchors, and there are some quality anchors we missed. We would highlight the Fortress (which has an excellent reputation in America and is very popular). We have also not tested Manson’s Racer, another alloy “sand” anchor nor Wasi’s Bugel or XYZ. We have also not tested the plethora of unbranded copy anchors — the manufacturing technique and raw materials for which might be queried.We have attempted to extend anchor testing slightly beyond “holding capacity” but do not claim a high degree of statistical excellence. It is a first attempt at extending the parameters available to the yacht owner. We have mentioned an inability to measure snatch loads on a set anchor. Our 90 and 180-degree re-setting tests require repetition by other workers in different seabeds. Some test procedures need be developed to look at the impact of waves. The more we learn the more there seems to be to find out. THE ANCHORS WE TESTEDThe anchors tested in this survey were largely lent by the anchor manufacturers themselves and thanks are extended to Barlow who provided the Lewmar models Delta and Claw, Ultra in Brisbane, Manson who lent both the Supreme and Ray, Anchor Right who provided the small Excel. We already owned the CQR and borrowed our son’s Super SARCA. Rocna were unable to lend one of their new Chinese models, and we borrowed an original NZ model for some of the testing. Spade provided the small steel Spade and the larger alloy version. Cooper had already submitted their model for testing for “The Ideas Locker”. We had purchased the Kobra on our last visit to the UK and brought it back as checked in luggage and the fishermans we purchased from the secondhand boat-part shop, The Bosun’s Locker, in Warriewood, Sydney. In the future we hope to extend the investigation and include the Fortress and Manson’s alloy Racer. Some of the anchor makers allowed us to decorate their models with bright paint to enhance opportunity for photography — we are not aware that it alters performance.WHERE TO BUY THEMMost good anchors can be purchased from chandlers in Australia. Sadly chandlers do not stock all sizes, nor all anchors, but they do stock unbranded anchors that should be avoided at all costs.• Ultra anchors — Ultra Anchor,ph (07) 3382 0250.• Super SARCA and SARCA Excel — Anchor Right, Australia,ph (03) 5968 5014.• Manson Ray, Supreme and Racer (and other anchors in the Manson range) — distributed by AMI, various offices nationwide, ph (07) 5540 6800.• Fortress — AMI (see above).• CQR, Delta and the Lewmar Claw — Barlow Distributors, ph (02) 9318 2128.• Shockles have no distributor in Australia — www.shockles.com• Spade anchors have no distributor in Australia, but Spade will deliver here by sea-freight — at www.spade-anchor.com• Kobra, this anchor is part of the Plastimo range who are represented here by RFD. RFD do not import anchors, nor much else of the Plastimo range but might be persuaded to add an anchor to one of their shipments.• Cooper — contact the manufacturer direct. They offer only an emailaddress on their website — firstname.lastname@example.orgProbably the largest range of anchors available in the southern hemisphere including Manson, Anchor Right, Spade and many others are in stock at Chains, Ropes and Anchors in New Zealand, ph (64) 9 444 8212. They will ship to Australia.
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