The Offshore Voyaging Reference Site

The Perfect Anchor Roller

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.

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More Articles From Online Book: Anchoring Made Easy:

  1. Introduction
  2. 4 Vital Anchor Selection Criteria and a Review of SPADE
  3. SARCA Excel Anchor—A Real World Test
  4. SPADE, SARCA Excel, or Some Other Anchor?
  5. Rocna Resetting Failures and Evaluation of Vulcan and Mantus
  6. Some Thoughts On The Ultra Anchor, Roll Bars and Swivels
  7. Specifying Primary Anchor Size
  8. Kedge (Secondary Anchor)—Recommended Type and Size
  9. Third Anchors, Storm Anchors and Spare Anchors
  10. Anchor Tests—The Good, The Bad, and The Downright Silly
  11. Making Anchor Tests More Meaningful
  12. We Love The Way Our Anchor Drags 
  13. Things to Know About Anchor Chain
  14. Selecting a Chain Grade
  15. Anchor Chain Catenary, When it Matters and When it Doesn’t
  16. Anchoring—Snubbers
  17. Anchor Rode Questions and Answers
  18. Q&A: Hybrid Rope And Chain Anchor Rodes
  19. Anchor Swivels, Just Say No
  20. A Windlass That Makes The Grade
  21. The Perfect Anchor Roller
  22. Install A Wash-down Pump—And Save Money!
  23. Anchoring—Kellets
  24. Anchoring—Chain: Stoppers, Termination and Marking
  25. 20 Tips To Get Anchored and Stay Anchored
  26. Choosing an Anchorage
  27. Choosing a Spot
  28. 15 Steps To Getting Securely Anchored
  29. One Anchor or Two?
  30. Two Anchors Done Right
  31. It’s Often Better to Anchor Than Pick Up a Mooring
  32. Yawing at Anchor, The Theory and The Solution
  33. Yawing at The Anchor, an Alternative Cure
  34. How To Use An Anchor Trip Line
  35. ShoreFasts—Part 1, When to Use Them
  36. ShoreFasts—Part 2, Example Setups Plus Tips and Tricks
  37. ShoreFasts—Part 3, The Gear
  38. Gale And Storm Preparation, At Anchor Or On A Mooring
  39. Storm Preparation, All Chain On Deck
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Dick Stevenson

Hi John,
Nice article about a piece of gear which, when it gives you trouble, can really ruin your day and lead to serious injuries when attempting to put things right.
I feel lucky to have an anchor platform which checks most of your boxes and has been a valuable companion (with our windlass) to many a fire drill over the years. The anchor is secured aft by the windlass and secured with the windlass brake. Next however, I have always lashed our anchor to the side and back as this keeps it from making noise in side to side action and “fixes” it in place. In the rare need for immediate anchor down, a kick to the rotary handles on the windlass clutch and a knife (either in my pocket or lashed to the pulpit) to the side tensioning line could not be faster. I have shied away from chain clutches as I have known reports of clutches that, when tensioned toward the anchor, have been hard to release without the tension being taken up by the windlass (much like some rope clutches are hard to release without the tension being relieved by the winch).
That is a very interesting observation by Colin about the groove in the roller mitigating chain twist. I have such a groove in my roller and have never suffered from chain twist and feel the same way about chain swivels as you so delicately put it. This may go part way towards explaining why some feel the need for a swivel (beyond the extra-ordinary advertising hype).

My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

Marc Dacey

We have an anchor well about half a metre deep. I’m still working out how best to utilize it, but I think one option is to bring the anchor inboard off soundings and to secure it in this well. It’s better protected, weight is (somewhat) out of the ends and the stresses on the short sprit are lessened. I approve of the “groove in the Delrin” roller idea; mine already features that, but alas, I have them ganged in three side by side, which as you point out, is self-limiting.

Still, this is very thought-provoking, especially as I’m on course to buy an expensive anchor!

Marc Dacey

Thank you, John.


Hi John,

I have seen anchors’ chain being tightened using ‘devils claws’ secured on strong point additionally to the windlass brake method you describe.
By the way what are your thoughts on Boreal 47 anchor pulpit and roller design?

Colin Speedie

Hi Nikolas
a couple of points on the anchor mounting on the Boreal (form someone who has worked on them). The first is that the rollers themselves are a decent size – far too often they are too small in diameter. The second is that the chain passes through a tube under the deck and can be secured by a pin or carabiner back at the locker in front of the mast so it cannot come free, which is a lot easier than doing it out on the bowsprit platform. The third is that most of the boats I have worked on with the owners have a welded samson post just aft of the anchor channels which is a perfect place to attach a securing line for the anchor at the inboard end. But Like most of these boats (our Ovni, too) the platform doesn’t lend itself well to the permanent mounting of a second anchor; however it is perfect for attaching a snubber from the samson post to pass out through the starboard roller.
Best wishes

Dick Stevenson

Hi John,
If the goal is a secure the anchor in a manner that provides reliable stowage and also allows for quick emergency deployment, then I believe that the lashing I referred to (actually a one line pulling around the anchor so it torques it and pulls it aft) seems to meet the criteria, at least for me. One quick swipe with a knife that is always on station on the pulpit releases this secondary securing line.
I am uncomfortable, if I read your securing system correctly, with there only being the band brake holding the anchor in place when sailing inshore. As you pointed out, some of the most potent blows to the anchor and the anchor area happen coastal cruising wind vs tide. I prefer 2 modes of securing the anchor, inshore or off. The anchor going walk-about through some sort of failure, human (failure to tighten the band brake sufficiently) or mechanical, in a seaway is too much a recipe for damage to vessel or person to be left to one method.
By the way, I likely missed a notice or something, but I miss the ability to check a box and have further comments sent directly to my email. Is there a way I can request this to occur?
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

Eric Klem

Hi John,

I agree completely on the importance of the bow roller and think that you have done a good job of outlining what to keep in mind. Here are a few thoughts to add to it:

I agree with your belief that tensioning the chain should make the anchor secure. I have built a few bow rollers at this point and the second to last one I built had ears on it similar to the one that you have pictured with the spade. When I was building it, I made sure to get the geometry right which was not easy as most of these are actually too far aft and when the anchor comes up, it contacts this area first often making it hard to get on the roller. It worked okay for a while although it was a bit finicky when pulling in the chain the last few inches. I ended up bending one of the ears temporarily preventing proper stowage while hauling the anchor in the dark leaving an anchorage because the wind had gotten up to 30 and it was starting to get rough. In the end, I made something with a roller geometry an awful lot like the FPB one with 2 separate rollers for a single anchor. When the anchor is hauled all the way in, the lower roller is effectively against the fluke and the upper roller is still touching the shank so the anchor is really secure. Also, 2 rollers really decrease the loads as the shank comes up and over. On an anchor like a spade with the really curved shank, this may be harder to implement. I now believe that the anchor roller ideally should actually have 2 rollers placed to securely hold the shank and fluke.

For short hops, we simply leave the load on the chain. For longer periods, I installed a cleat next to the windlass and we use a soft shackle to attach a line to the chain which is cleated off. If we need the anchor down quickly, I simply uncleat the line and drop the anchor with the line still attached to the chain which I have tried and works fine.

One of the hardest things in my experience is dealing with mooring pendants. On our boat, there is a large stainless bow casting which would need extensive modification to put a chock beyond the anchor which is already sort of out in space to prevent interference. We have compromised and use homemade cyclone mooring pendants (dyneema with a brummel splice on either end on the boat end of a normal nylon pendant) and leave the anchor on unless we are threatened with storm conditions. We have seen a small amount of chafe on the fire hose chafe guard but absolutely zero visible chafe to the dyneema. With our previous Yale pendants and plain nylon ones, we quickly got chafe from the anchor and had to remove it. Nantucket has successfully used the same system for a quite a while now and it can get pretty rough in there in a NE and nobody bothers to take anchors off and no chafe has been observed. While not ideal, I believe this to be a safe compromise provided that we are around and able to take the anchor off the bow when prolonged storm force conditions are expected which is less than once a year for us.


Grenville Byford

Dear John,

The ears on the bow roller assembly that you added to secure the spade anchor. I am looking at the same problem (having been rather impressed by the recent video about Rocna anchors not resetting). My question is this : Do you find that placing the stainless ears directly onto the galvanized anchor causes some grinding noise on passage? I would have thought there must be some movement in a seaway, no matter how much tension you put on the chain. Or have you figured out some sort of padding to put between the two?

Best regards,


PS : Revenge has a rather elegant and simple chain locking device. It was on the boat when I bought it so I claim no credit. I thought I would send you a picture, but how?

Bill Attwood

Hi John.
My refit changes to the anchor fixing system on Kinsa may be of interest. Relatively simple and inexpensive. Difficult to describe but photos would do the job. Is there any way they could be uploaded, or must they be included as a link to a cloud-based app?
Yours aye

Rob Gill

Hi John,
As an idea – when members want to post a photo to illustrate a question or a point they are making, I wonder if you might instead encourage us to add them on the Adventure Cruising Facebook page, within your post about a new article? This feature is not currently enabled on your page, but could be a way to get better editorial control of user posted content, drive traffic to your FB page (as we post photos, we share them with all our friends and even their friends sometimes etc etc). This should encourage more click through visitors linking to your main site articles (and hopefully joining up). It might help make your FB page more interactive and useful to members as well as more attractive to search engines?
It may also help that photos referenced by comments in back articles within the library are in the same logical place (rather than scattered in member’s own accounts which could be deleted and links lost). I think you could impose a helpful structure by using the albums feature by date or library topic, and as mentioned encourage a standard posting regime where our photos would be in “comments” made to your original FB post announcing the article in question. FB also accepts and deals well with video, that readers afloat could look at later when they have good data coverage.
Coincidently, I have a picture of our new stem fitting and bow roller that has been beefed up in size (on your previous advice), lengthened to take our Code 0 furler and supported / tied down with a solid stainless rod to the bow. I have a question about how to make the anchor stow better on its roller that I hope will be answered in part two. If not, I volunteer to be a test FB photo poster!
All the best,

Rob Gill

Can’t fault your logic John.

richard s

wondering why despite my three decades of coastal and blue water skippering have i never before encountered the phrase ‘band brake’…i suppose this is a manual windlass device that helps to control rode deployment speed…all my windlasses have been electric which controls deployment speed by definition…am i missing something here?

richard in tampa bay
s/v lakota


Hi All,

Seems that we have a bug that’s preventing the subscribe to comments box from working.

I’m out sailing right now but will try to get to it in the next few days. It’s a tricky bug in that it comes and goes so it may take me a while to crack it.

Richard Dykiel

FWIW – My Dana 24 came with 2 beefy anchor rollers, one on each side of the bowsprit. I use a 33lbs SPADE that I set and lift manually (no windlass). Initially the anchor would be wobbling a lot when sailing due to the shape of the shank. I raked my brains quite a bit with this before I came out with a solution that involves using a tackle to cinch the anchor’s fluke against the bottom face of the bowsprit (protected by a metal strike plate). Anchor doesn’t move now. I’ll look into using a quick snap shackle instead of the one I’m using in order to improve the launching.


When we picked up our first mooring ever, at Hugh Town, Isles of Scilly, coming from the Azores, I blundered by doing what I always do with the snubber line: run the mooring pendant over the second of our double rollers. By the time we had gotten some sleep, the line had chafed severely on our anchor, probably losing 50% of its strength, see here:

I then rigged the bridle shown here, with which we were happy and used again several times around England:

I am not defending this, just invite your comments. Besides no chafe on the anchor, the benefits are that the boat was sailing around much less and that we were not quite so frighteningly close to the boat/buoy behind us.

I put my own shackles around the rusty chain to protect my lines but this makes departure a problem unless I leave then behind. My plan is to make two lines for moorings from squareline spliced to a short length of stainless chain so that the chain is in the middle and two lengths of nylon squareline on either side. These I intend to thread through the last link of chain from the mooring and tie it up so that the piece of chain in the middle sits over the rusty link of the mooring. This can then be slipped easily.

Any thoughts? If you don’t like it, please suggest other ways as any line will chafe badly on our anchor when run over the 2nd roller with our current CQR, but most likely also with a Spade to which I plan to change this Winter.

I use a devil’s claw for use as a snubber (slightly off-topic): which loads the chain evenly on both sides. For 10mm chain, SWL is 993kg/2,200lbs, breaking load is 3,575kg/7,900lbs. I agree that in theory it can fall off the chain but it looks to be a lot stronger than the Wichard model with a pin and even a big size of trigger shackle that will just barely fit in my chain link (Wichard makes them, too, and I use them on halyards, but I find that I never have have the fid on hand when I need it).
My Liros Handy Elastic 18mm mooring lines, which I would use as snubber in strong winds, have a breaking load of 8,500kg/18,700lbs. I don’t know about the chain (I got it with the boat) but it will probably be less, close to my devil’s claw.
I just don’t see the Wichard chain hook or the Tylaska trigger shackle in the same league (on a chain), also because the Wichard chain hook will be subjected to a bending force when loaded.
That is not to say that I don’t like Tylaskas. 20 years ago I bought (at huge expense) a beautiful Tylaska which I proudly used as my key chain, thinking “one day I’ll get a boat to go with it”. When I got the boat, it turned out too big for the size shackle so I still use it for my keys…

Colin Speedie

Hi John & Henning
it’s partly Hugh Town! The swell gets in from the Atlantic and the chain risers on the moorings whilst huge won’t reach the cleats on an average boat. The movement on those moorings can be serious!
Best wishes


Hello John,
Very interesting topic.
What I hope you will be explainning, is how two anchor rolls on one hinged arm lower forces considerable for biceps or winch. Angles of chain to winch and rollers are part of this. Hope to understand better how these cooperate to form a proper bow roller arrangement.
Best regards, Walter

Frank Tanlsey


Our boat (a Hans Christian) has a bowsprit with the dual anchor rollers about ½ way out on the sprit. A problem I haven’t solved with deploying or retrieving the anchor is that it fouls on the bobstay. When retrieving a fluke will often snag the bobstay. When deploying it will sometimes slide down the solid rod bobstay and wedge at the attachment plate at the base of the bobstay. Sounds remarkable but somehow it can happen. The anchor is a Rocna and I had the same problem with the prior CQR. Currently I have to time it so that during retrieval, as the anchor approaches the bobstay, I pause and wait for it to swing to the side and then continue retrieving but this has not been a reliable method as the timing has to be just right or if the anchor isn’t swinging because the conditions are calm. In an urgent situation I have left the anchor hooked on the bobstay with a little chain tension as it is secure and doesn’t move and then deal with it as soon as soon as I can. When it fouls while deploying I retrieve it enough to try again or I have to reach down and manually move it free (not good, obviously). When I can, I prepare ahead of time by having the anchor deployed just past the bobstay but still out of the water but that won’t work for an emergency. Any suggestions for a solution?


Richard Dykiel

Same problems when deploying or retrieving my SPADE on the Dana 24. The flukes have a geometry that loves snagging the bobstay on launching. First, the previous owner had protected the bobstay itself with a rubber hose. Not pretty, but efficient.

Second, when launching, I now try to flip the shank towards the centerline to try clearing the fluke off the bobstay: note that I’m launching and retrieving manually which makes it quicker to correct situations: I can handle the anchor + rode manually.

Third, when retrieving, I’m pulling my chain very quickly hand-over-hand and the Dana does not usually drift that quickly that would put me into trouble. But if I were, I would secure the anchor under the bobstay and leave it for a little while until I can come back to it. After all, many cruisers (including the Pardeys, I think) would cruise many miles with their anchor in this position. Personally I don’t like it, but I can live with it for the few minutes I have to attend to other matters. You need to have a very quick procedure to temporarily secure your anchor.

Colin Speedie

Hi All
there is no perfect answer to this that I’m aware of, but having sailed gaffers early in my career we always had a lazy line (c. 2-3m long) attached to the crown of the anchor that could be snagged with a long boat hook once the anchor was aweigh. This could be used to guide the anchor away from the bobstay (by pulling it to one side from the deck) and was then also used as a lashing to cat the anchor. A lot of big gaffers, of course, used offset hawse pipes that obviated the need for this.
And then there was the question of the anchor chain grumbling and twanging away at the bobstay as the boat swung to the gusts – how well I remember that….
Best wishes

Eric Klem

Hi Frank,

Bowsprits are definitely hard with their combination of bobstay, whisker stays and the bowsprit itself. We have owned one boat with a short bowsprit and I have worked on many more and I have always struggled with them a bit. I think that there are a few options depending on the specific boat.

For boats with short bowsprits (some Cape Dorys, Catalinas, etc), having the anchor roller at the end of the bowsprit works well because they are really more like pulpits. I don’t really like the loads that can be placed on the bowsprit and would never consider this with a long bowsprit although people do it.

Sometimes you can move the roller sideways whether it be out from the bowsprit or an anchor roller back by the stem. Again, I don’t like the loading if it is on the bowsprit and it tends to be ugly regardless.

Larger boats can use a hawsepipe but these are very limited in anchor selection.

I don’t like hooking the anchor on the bobstay for anything more than a quick move as the loads of a wavestrike on a big anchor could potentially put enough tension in it to break it and then there is always chafe.

You can also do exactly what you are doing which is always fight it up. A trick you could consider from large traditional boats is having a stiff loop of line towards the bottom of the anchor which you could easily grab with a boathook to pull sideways in a more controlled fashion. If money were no object, you could always look at the superyachts. Rebecca has a hawsepipe that leads to a cavity in the bow with hydraulic doors that open under water (talk about needing an anchor ball dayshape). Many others use rollers that hinge out and the engineering on it is not totally unreasonable but would require some work and is probably beyond what most people are willing to do.


Frank Tansley

Thanks to everyone for the responses. They were greatly appreciated.


Robert Smout


It’s interesting that there hasn’t been a mention of using a pelican hook as a third means of tensioning and locking the chain with the anchor stowed in the roller. As a former U.S. Navy nuclear engineer, I was taught to never trust a friction device when used as a brake. Certainly, the brake and the clutch provide triple redundancy, but in my mind there is no substitute for a static mechanical connection. Of course, the pelican hook needs a robust mounting and large deck plate to absorb the impact of the bail when the hook is tripped.

Here’s a question: Any advantage to having an all-bronze roller assembly (corrosion resistance, self-lubricating roller shaft)?

Thanks for a great article.

Bob Smout

Charles Staeke

Hi John
Any ideas for where to get Delrin roller machined? Present roller on our Trintella 47 is stainless.
I did ask a machinist and he mentioned nylon instead of Delrin. It seems some properties are different and harder, but I do not know which is preferable for an anchor roller. Also, Delrin comes in white and black Is there a difference in strength or sun resistance? Comments? Recommendations?

Alwin Bucher

One very nice resource I found regarding anchor roller design is, much of which is transferrable to other anchors.

For example, they suggest machining the rollers out of aluminium, which is soft enough to avoid beating up the galvanization and should have a significantly longer service life than plastic. Certainly one of our plastic rollers is completely worn through, and will be replaced.

Also, they point out that having the front/lower roller a sufficiently large diameter to snuggle up between the shank and the fluke makes it very easy to prevent vertical motion of the anchor simply by tensioning the rode.

Thankfully I have some engineer friends with access to a lathe and the skills to machine this for me, and failing that, there are some online platforms where you can upload a CAD file and have it sent to you for a reasonable cost (~€200 for two 10cm diameter rollers). That’s about twice the price of a similarly-dimensioned off-the-shelf delrin spare, which seems like a fair trade-off to me.


Hello John and members of AAC,
Part1 of the perfect bow roller has got all my attention, since I am on a similar project:
Our 2003 Hallberg Rassy 46 came with a 70lbs CQR that was blocked by the bow roller with a tight chain.
When we got the boat in July 16 we dumped the CQR for a 40kg ROCNA. The anchor sets and holds well in hard sand or sand/mud.
But the bow roller needs modification.
We also need to be able to use the removable SS HR bowsprit.
Like you I like the idea of being able to launch the anchor in an emergency (even with the bowsprit installed).
The anchor has a considerable surface that needs to be very well blocked going head on in heavy seas.
As it is the anchor is blocked on the bow pulpit which is not satisfactory.
I will modify the bow roller to meet all the specifications you very well pointed as mandatory.
To achieve this goal I am looking for solutions.
– having an articulated part inserted inside the front part of the existing bow roller in order to hold the anchor by pressure on shank and flukes and allow gravity launch.
– being able to use the bowsprit if possible without interfering with the removable bowsprit.
I will try to post a link for pictures that will make things easier to discuss.
All suggestions are welcome.
Thank you again for the great site.

Colin Speedie

Hi Denis
one simple and relatively cheap modification that we have made is to have the bow roller for the bower anchor made to match the inside radius of the Rocna (in our case a 33) as closely as possible. This has made surprising difference, especially when the anchor is pulled home tight for sea – it moves around far less and up and down very little. Not just more secure, but far less noise, too.
Of course, we have two separate mechanical ways to hold it in place, as well.
Delrin, Ertalyte (Ertacetal) or the amazing Vesconite (if you can find it) as mentioned by Bill Koppe below are all fine options for roller material for this sort of heavy duty work.
Best wishes

Charles Starke, s/v Dawnpiper

Thanks for the advice! Excellent.
Choosing characteristics on the McMaster-Carr website that you gave, seems to also come up with black Delrin.
I weighed my two stainless rollers and came up with a FOURTEEN pound saving by switching to Delrin! So I think I’ll switch both rollers to Delrin and make up for the weight gained in switching from an 88 lb Rocna to a 99 lb Spade on the bow. I also found the Rocna hard to set unless our speed was really low. My storm anchor in the stern is a 60 lb Spade in aluminum. It is even bigger than the 99 lb Spade so it seems a good choice as a secondary or storm anchor. Kedge is Fortress 37.
I plan on using the recommendation given above for machining the Delrin with a central notch to fit the chain so it does not twist, and rearranging the rollers so mooring penant on port roller does not chafe on anchor.

Drew Frye

The prior owner of my boat lashed and padded the anchor. A terrible mess.

I installed a channel, like the typical pin-type chain lock, with two differences.
1. I drilled the hole for the pin after installing, to catch the chain when the anchor is tight against roller. No shake.
2. The pin has a big screwdriver handle. To drop, I pull a small locking pin (on a retainer cord) and then pull the main pin. Takes just a few seconds at either end.

The pin is high strength steel. The 316 SS pin I tried first was quickly mangled.

This is NOT for setting or break out, only for securing. I use a bridle or snubber for the former.

bill koppe

Hi John,
We have the rollers in stainless with a vesconite hi lube plastic bearing, same as rudder and prop shaft. Outside this on the same shaft are separate bearings for a box section that grips the top of the anchor stock and hols it firmly in place. An added benefit is that it holds the anchor so that it is self launching. It swivels so that it follows the stock as it is lowered and retrieved. The system is set up for the 137kg plough and will accommodate the 240 spade.
I have twin rollers one with chain groove and the other with rope groove. Using the chain groove roller with line would chafe the line. The roller cheeks are substantial and capped with 1 inch round to reduce chafing.
Bill Koppe

Terje M

I do agree with you that most anchor rollers on today’s yachts or even yacht built the last 30 years are often not fit for purpose. A good design, including material comes with a cost.
I totally disagree with you that the anchor should be ready to be deployed at all times. Some of us do a fair bit of inshore and offshore racing following regulations from RORC and IOC. In my circles in the Solent, UK we call an anchor ready to be deployed from the anchor roller a “weapon of mass destruction.” Last weekend, we were rafted up in Yarmouth Harbour, Iles of White. With three different cruising rallies and a few race yachts the harbour was full. We were rafting up 4-5 yachts at the hammerhead. With strong tide 3-5 knots in the harbour plus 25+ knots of wind, things can quickly go wrong. It is easy to separate racers from cruisers; just see where they got their bow anchor. It will be less damage if the anchor was in the locker. It’s like going hunting with your safety pin off on you rifle.

Cruising and racing inshore and offshore I have seen a large number of “could be accidents” where yacht is not giving way or following basic navigation rules. Last month I had a cruising yacht “with a weapon of mass destruction” deployed on port tack under engine not giving way at night. We were on starboard tack flying our asymmetric doing 10 knots plus. Calling on VHF, using touches, nothing. With less three boat length apart, they responded to my call for STARBOARD. We had made preparations for a tack, my desperate scream for STARBOARD got the crews attention in the last minute.

My point is – anchors should be in their lockers until deployed. RORC, IOC and others are in the same opinion. I am really struggling with the cruising yacht keeping their anchor or weapon ready to deploy. “Weapon of mass-destruction” is a good term.
Yes, anchors are an important tool when it comes to safety. Keeping in the locker until needed is just good seamanship. Keep your drogue ready to deploy too.

Most anchor rollers, anchor lockers, windless arrangements can be improved. Most modern yacht now got a bow sprit or they retrofit a bow sprit. Most modern yachts under-spec their anchor rollers, cleats and bow fittings. Most retro-fitted bow sprit will quickly require a change in the anchor rollers, please take that into account.
I like my two anchor rollers, we use them both regularly. With an anchor bridle the anchor is well secured when it is deployed. The yacht is well balanced, the bridle line uses both of the anchor rollers and secured to the cleat.

I think you got a few things wrong. Sorry.
Terje M
Yacht Maud

Terje M


If you race under RORC, IOC or more relaxed series like JOG with your anchor ready to be deployed on the bow you will be disqualified. This is done due to safety.

As you already know, RORC and IOC are very safety oriented and concerned. Some of their regulations can be disputed and debated. Keeping the anchor in the locker is not one of them. Sorry.

I have seen yachts T-Boned by a ready to be deployed anchor. It is not nice. The damage is clearly worse than without an anchor. Without an anchor, the damage is more equally divided between the two boats. With an anchor, the damage is always worse on the yacht getting hit.

No need to argue. I think your audience is predominantly cruises. As a cruiser/racer I would like to see a ban on keeping the anchor ready to be deployed in the anchor roller at all times. If that was the case, we would see a transformation of new products related “getting you anchor ready to deploy.” That would-be progress.
Yacht Maud

Martin Van Pelt

I would be happy to secure my anchor using the rode but I do have a concern. My windlass has no clutch and when I pull the anchor up snug, there is enough momentum in the drivetrain that it pulls the chain rode very, very tight. If I stop the windlass at just the right moment, I can get a rational amount of tension but this happens maybe 1 time in 10.

It occurs to me that it can’t be good for the windlass to be left in this state of extreme tension for long periods of time. In my case, I have a fairly ordinary Lofrans vertical shaft windlass but it seems the problem would be similar for any clutch-less windlass. Do those who advocate this technique use a clutch to reduce/limit the tension, or do you just leave the windlass with a bar-tight rode?

Terje M

We got the same windless: Lofrans vertical shaft windlass. I got the 1500 Project Model, that should not make any difference.

I will never leave my windless in a tight position, not even or a few hours. It will hold the anchor OK, overtime it is one of the few ways you will destroy or weaken your windless. If I want to keep the anchor in the anchor roller, I secure the anchor with a short line. When the anchor is deployed, I use an anchor bridle attached to both cleats.

There are some anchor locks on the marked. I find it easier to use a short line to secure the anchor to the roller. There are some recommendations in the Lofrans manual.

Marc Dacey

Even then, I see no particular reason to use the band brake alone. A proper hook on deck that you can see hasn’t failed is to my mind the primary means of securing the anchor in its roller when the anchor’s being used regularly; the band is the safety measure. Tie downs at the crown when on passage, or even stowing the anchor completely off the roller when on passage seems the best way to avoid damage or difficulty…or loss of the anchor.

Martin Van Pelt

I failed to mention in my original post that my windlass does have a band brake. So let’s say I pull the anchor up tight into the roller with the windlass, then apply the band brake and leave it like that. Seems to me that all of the load in the windlass drive train is still present.

With a clutch I could disengage it and the load in the drive train would be relieved. With no clutch, the windlass drive mechanism still carries the stress and only if it could be backed off would the band brake actually take the load.

I don’t mean to revive the anchor removal topic, I think this issue is separate from that.

Martin Van Pelt

Thanks for the input. I will likely need to rig up some sort of restraint. Our boat is relatively new (to us) and up to now I have been making do with lashing the shank to a padeye and/or using a pin through the shank which is very robust but requires application of substantial muscle while leaning forward of the pulpit.

As a side note, while I have been reading AAC for quite some time, this is my first post. I would like to take the opportunity to say thanks for running a useful forum.

Don Atwood

Based partially on your recommendation, I purchased a Spade anchor for my Hallberg Rassy 39. On installing it, I found that if came up with the flukes outward, I stood a good chance of damaging my hull as it “flipped” on the bow roller. If it comes up with proper orientation, it raises without issue and sets nicely (and snugly) against the roller. My initial thought was that I needed an extension to my bow roller to achieve greater standoff. But upon reflection, I wondered if I need to worry:
Doesn’t the chain placement on the gypsy completely define the anchor orientation during the last stage of hauling the anchor? You mention that for one in twenty times, your anchor comes up with flukes outward. Does that only occur in instances that the chain has slipped on the gypsy?

Don Atwood

As evident in your photos, the Spade anchor is “self-deploying”. With my old Delta anchor, I had to kick it off the roller so that it would fall when I let out more chain. With the curvature of the shank on the Spade, it falls immediately. This saves the need to go to the foredeck before anchoring. However, it could mean a catastrophic anchor deployment if something happened which allowed the chain to run out. For this reason, should one be using a chain stopper to insure the anchor is locked in place? With my Delta, I have never worried.

Brian Bourke

Hi John,
I’m fairly new to your website and membership and have been enjoying greatly reading and learning. I have a Moody 40 which is 20 years old that I bought last year and it has the original 45lb CQR and 8mm shabby looking chain. I am planning on buying a 25kg Spade and am still thinking about which chain to opt for. I’m probably going to go for 100m of G70 8mm to stick with my current gypsy and Simpson Lawrence HE1000. My current bow roller is a double, from original and when I pull the anchor up, it gets to the point where all the chain is home/horizontal in the roller and the anchor shank is in the vertical but can’t get over the roller. This is where I go for’ad and haul it home by hand but with sea motion etc. this can lead frustratingly to the anchor tip knocking into my nice bow gel coat. I’ve looked at a few bespoke arrangements recommended on the Moody forum: a pivoting dipping extension rotating on the current roller axel (not sure how strong this would be) or a larger roller. Mechanically, I get how the leverage is massive for the windlass to pull the anchor home from the stalled vertical position with the current small roller. Any suggestions? I’ve adjusted the clutch and there’s no problem there. But if you think my old 1000w SL Horizon Express is too weedy – just say!
Thanks John.

p.s. just for info on my cruising plans: my current cruising area is SW England and Irish Sea but in a few years we’ll be off to the Med (for starters….).


Hi John. I’m interested in your description of ‘ears’ on a bow roller, either designed in or retro-fitted, to hold the anchor further out.

We’ve just tried fitting one of the cardboard mock-ups of a 20kg Spade to our new 35′ boat with robust twin bow rollers and a fairly plumb stem. Clearly it is going to be a problem – it kisses the gelcoat when fully in. (It may be a challenge when the anchor is swinging lower too, but my immediate concern is how it will sit when fully ‘up’).

I’m wondering: Rather than adding ‘ears’ to a bow roller, would it be effective to add the ears to the anchor itself, by clamping them on (therefore not weakening the anchor)? Incidentally that would enable different solutions for different anchors, rather than making a bow roller specifically for just one style.

What do you think? Do you know if this has been tried?

Charles L Starke

Hi Speedsailor
We made “ears” by cutting our stainless roller down by the thickness of a stainless steel plate (3/8”) and adding this plate, obtained from McMaster-Carr and machined into a circle with a drilled center hole, on the pin of the roller. The plate holds our Spade anchor firmly. It should hold your anchor out from the hull, but may not solve the problem during set or retrieval.
Best wishes,
Charles Starke
s/v Dawnpiper


Hi Charles, thank you. Did you intend to include a picture (when you said ‘like this’)? I’m struggling to visualise your description. – Jonathan W. (‘speedsailor’)

Charles L Starke

Hi Jonathan
The 3/8 stainless steel plate is an 8” circle and is placed on the outboard edge of the roller on the same pin. It hits my Spade on the otboard edge of the fluke, stabilizes the anchor and holds the anchor outboard. Once the fluke is off this plate while the anchor drops, it won’t solve your problem of the anchor being near your plumb bow in retrieving or setting.
I don’t know how to publish a picture and can’t right now since i’m traveling, but I previously sent pictures to John.


That’s brilliant, thank you Charles!


I had a feeling you might say that John! I wasn’t sure how sensitive they are. I can imagine putting weight on the shaft might unbalance something. So the ears (or something) had better go on the roller. I’m exploring options…

The Spade has such a gradual curve whereas something like the Rocna has a more specific stopping point. But either way, it would be nice to have something that precisely held the anchor like this:


HI John
Thanks for article. Have you looked at the Ultra Marine “Flip Swivel” and “Bow Roller” for the Ultra Marine anchors. What is your view on them ?