We offshore sailors have the ability to put up for years, and sometimes even for decades, with gear that really does not work very well. And yet we also have gear on our boats that has been refined to be near perfect. This dichotomy never ceases to amaze me.
A good example of the latter is the two-speed self-tailing winch, a machine that has been essentially unchanged for some 30 years and that just works so perfectly that it's hard to think of any way to improve it.
On the other hand, bow (anchor) rollers by and large fall into the former category. Most of them don't work very well, and yet we put up with this sad state of affairs and seem to assume that the rollers provided by most boat builders are as good as it gets.
But they aren't, and improving or replacing them is one of the most useful modifications we can make to a voyaging boat. Let's look at what makes the perfect anchor roller, or at least way better than standard, and how to build one.