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.
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
I guess we will have to agree to disagree on the lashings. I really don’t like to see an anchor lashed in such a way that a knife will be required.
To me, as I say in the post, if the anchor can’t be secured by tensioning the rode then the roller needs modifying or replacing.
I agree on the dangers of a clutch jamming. That’s why we only use the band brake inshore.
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!
I strongly recommend against bringing the anchor inboard when on a passage. First off, if your anchor roller is not strong enough to take a wave strike offshore, then it’s simply not strong enough. Sooner or later it will get hit by a big wave inshore and then fail. Some of the worst wave strikes I have ever seen where when inshore sailing (wind against tide).
Second, when is the most likely time you will need to drop the anchor fast? Answer: at the end of an ocean passage when you are tired, the boat and the gear has been subjected to the stresses of an offshore passage, and you are approaching an unfamiliar harbour.
Bottom line, the best bower should be ready to go at a moments notice at all times.
Thank you, 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?
Yes, I have seen ‘devils claws’ too, but I really don’t like them much since it is difficult to release them under load, and therefore if I didn’t have a band brake I trusted, I would prefer the system with the Tylaska shackle I list above.
As to the Boreal, I have not used the rollers, but they look as if they would work well with a single anchor. However, I also think the second anchor positioning could be improved a lot. More on that in part 2
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.
Thanks for the fill in on the Boreal.
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
Like I say, we will have to agree to disagree. I’m perfectly comfortable securing with a substantiation band brake like that on our Idea windlass and if I had a less substantial brake I would use a tackle, as detailed in the post.
Further, I disagree with the idea of having different securing methods inshore and offshore. As I said to Marc, some of the worst conditions to loosen up an anchor I have seen occurred inshore.
Yes, I tend to tighten the clutch too, offshore, but that’s just being anal, and is not very logical, as our discussion has made clear to me.
To me, there should be one simple and easy to release way to secure the anchor at all times.
And to me the fundamental point is that if tensioning the rode, no matter whether band brake or tackle, won’t secure the anchor properly, then the design of the roller is flawed.
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… Read more »
A lot of good points, thanks. I will be covering much of this in part 2, particularly the mooring issue.
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?
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?
No, never had any problem with the anchor moving against the ‘ears’. No padding either. I think the secret is to have plenty of bearing surface on said ears and to get the chain good and tight—that’s why I suggested a 4:1 or even 6:1 tackle. The other option is two rollers as Eric suggests. We will get into more on that in Part 2
Please see my answer to Bill on photos.
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?
WordPress does not support photos in comments so the best way is to load them to say Flickr and then link to them here.
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,
I think that’s a great idea in principle, but I don’t think I want to use FaceBook. There are a three reasons, the first being that I don’t trust Mark Z and his people. Most people who don’t have a company page, as we do, are unaware of the way that FB constantly changes the way it works to force us commercial users into paying them ever more. (We already pay them to distribute every post.) They also steal copyright to every image posted.
The second problem is that I simply don’t have the band width to moderate and manage a FB forum without taking too much time away from my primary job of creating content and interacting in the comments here with the members.
And third, anyone can comment/post on FaceBook, not just members, and the thought of going back to the bad old days when anyone could comment at AAC gives me the horrors. Moderating the wider internet with all it’s Trolls is simply no fun at all.
Please leave it with me. I will take your idea and see what we can do to get the benefits you list, without causing the problems I list above. I’m currently thinking about the whole social media issue and how it relates to AAC and will be working on that in the fall, so I will add this to that process.
Can’t fault your logic John.
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
Sadly most modern windlasses don’t have a brake due to cost cutting, but they should. More here: https://www.morganscloud.com/2011/08/07/boat-windlass-requirements/
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.
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.
That sounds like a good way to go. I just love the gear from Tylaska…when I can afford it!
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. Re the devil’s claw for use as a snubber (slightly off-topic): I use this one: http://www.niro-petersen.de/fileadmin/flippingbook/katalog/index.html#142/z and it looks massively strong and also 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… Read more »
I guess what jumps out at me is what a drag that you have to go though all that just to go on a mooring, something that every boat will do sooner or later. Just amazes me that builders don’t think about this stuff. More in the next post on that.
As to the claw, looks like a nice piece of kit, but having said that, we prefer to just attach the snubber with a double rolling hitch. Simple, cheap, and won’t fall off.
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!
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
Looks like we have the bug with subscribe to comments fixed. I’m out sailing and only have slow internet so I’m not able to test the fix as well as I normally would, so please let me know if you have any further issues with it. Sorry for the problem.
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?
Sorry, I have never had a boat with a bowsprit and really don’t have any good ideas to solve the problem. Can anyone else with bowsprit experience help?
One thought, might be worth checking Lin and Larry Pardey’s writings and web site to see if they have any thoughts. Few people know more about boats with bowsprits than they do.
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.
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….
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.
Hi Colin, Eric, and Richard,
Thanks for stepping in on the bowsprit issue, I hadn’t a clue.
Thanks to everyone for the responses. They were greatly appreciated.
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.
I did think about pelican hooks, or better still, highfield levers, but in the end decided that a simple tackle was easier to source and more flexible since pelican hooks and lighfield levers don’t generally have much throw, except in very large sizes, which would be a lot of clutter.
As to a bronze roller, I guess I can’t see any advantage over Delrin, and bronze will be a lot more money and weight.
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?
I got David, the machinist at Billings Diesel and Marine, in Stonington, Maine to turn mine from material I sourced. As to material, I’m not sure it matters that much, but I’m no plastics engineer. McMaster Carr is a great place to look at what’s available and the characteristics of each material. That’s what I did. Here’s an example: http://www.mcmaster.com/#standard-plastic-rods/ You can use the sidebar to specify size and characteristics and it will return the options to choose from.
Drilling down on that page seems to indicate that either Nylon or Delrin will work, but I think maybe Delrin is a better bet simply because that’s what most yacht fitting manufactures use for sheaves and things.
Any engineers out there have specialized knowledge?
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.
S/Y HIBERNIA II
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sounds like a good and robust design.
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.
I guess we will have to agree to disagree on that one. Also I think you overestimate the effects of an anchor on the bow in a collision. If one 15 ton boat T-Bones another at say 4 knots the difference in damage made by a 75 pound anchor would be too small to measure since it represents less than 100th part of 1% of the momentum involved. Sure, the hole might be made a little bigger by the anchor, but not much, and what about those bow rollers? Sound like battering rams to me.
Having said that, I can certainly see the wisdom of removing the anchor while racing.
I just realized I was wrong about the momentum. In fact, the momentum (mass x velocity) in the collision would be exactly the same with or without the anchor on the bow since the anchor off the bow would still be on the boat.
Not really relevant oneway or another, but my elementary boob was bothering me.
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.
I just can’t see extrapolating a racing regulation to banning anchors on the bow for offshore voyaging boats. Two different worlds, two different needs. In my world of voyaging having an anchor on the bow ready to go is simply good seamanship. For example, if I have some kind of mechanical failure and I’m to windward of you, do you want me to anchor quickly or drift down on you while I wrestle my 120 lb anchor on deck and shackle it on?
Like I said, agree to disagree. Perhaps we should end it here.
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?
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.
I agree, using rode tension for stowage it only works on windlasses with a band brake. I state this in the post above.
I definitely would not leave the anchor tensioned that way. Stowing this way only works and is safe if you have a band brake, as I state in the post above. See my recommendation in the post above for an alternative.
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.
As I have said before, I strongly advise against removing the best bower on passage. I have also been securing our anchor with the band brake for over 25 years without problems. Also, I really don’t like tie downs at the crown. As I say in the post, my thinking is that an anchor ready to go can save your boat, or even your life, so making sure that the anchor can be deployed as quickly as possible, but is still safely stowed, should be the goal.
I think we have all had our say on this. Perhaps we could leave it there.
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.
Good point. Ours has a clutch and brake, so we can take the load off the drive train. That said, if it’s a good robust windlass and as long as one is reasonably gentle bringing the anchor in (as you said) I would not think that leaving a bit of load on the drive train would cause damage.
But, if any doubt at all, then I would go with the tackle I suggest in the post.
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.
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?
I don’t think it’s that simple in that even if the chain is oriented correctly in the wildcat the anchor can still take a half turn and come up backward. That said, after a while we have got used to keeping an eye out for this and pretty good at sorting the situation by surging a foot or so of chain before retrieving again.
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.
We address that, and much more on the subject on the chapter above (I moved your comment).
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!
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….).
A couple of thoughts:
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?
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.
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’)
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’f you are thinking about permanently clamping the “ears” to the anchor, then I would strongly council against that course of action since it will almost certainly unbalance the anchor and adversely affect its setting.
It’s amazing how sensitive anchors are to balance. I have a friend who, after re-galvanizing a SPADE, substituted zinc for the lead in the tip and this resulted in the anchor not setting properly and not resetting after a wind shift.
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: http://kb.rocna.com/kb/File:Ferrara_03.jpg
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 ?
I’m not a fan of any type of swivel: https://www.morganscloud.com/2010/09/12/anchor-swivels/
As to the Bow Roller, I would have to actually see one to be able to say anything really useful. That said, I have never really seen the need for an articulated forward part and prefer a simpler approach wherever possible: https://www.morganscloud.com/2016/09/14/the-quest-for-a-perfect-anchor-roller-part-1/
Hi John. The first picture in this article is of your boat. Looking at the shackle that connects the chain to the anchor, the shackle pin is installed in the anchor shaft. I always read the body of the shackle is to go into the shaft and the pin will connect to the chain.
You are correct, and that’s how we have it today, and for some years. The photo was taken years ago before we knew that and changed it—always learning. That said, many anchors can only accommodate a strong enough shackle by using two as in the picture.
Hello: So I gather you went with Ed Joy’s design which appears to bolt onto your original roller unit. Do you happen to have a side view photo which shows how the Spade snugs up the the new design in such a way that it does not wobble about? Having a flat platform, with a standard roller, on our boat makes it impossible to snug up such an anchor well enough. We need to find an alternative solution and you seem to have succeeded. Thank you
No, I just modified the existing roller (designed for a CQR) with the added aluminium plate to allow the anchor to snug up.
You can see said plate clearly in this photo:
I’m guessing that with your set up you will need to add two plates, one either side so you end up with something that looks like this:
Thank you for your response. Very helpful! I finally found some bow roller designs at Kingston Anchor that might do the job. https://kingstonanchors.com/products/kv-2025?_pos=1&_sid=67f0165be&_ss=r I was thinking of going up two anchor sizes over the recommended for my boat —- Do you agree that might be a good choice considering we also sail in northern maritime Canada?
That does look like nice bow roller. That said, I’m not a fan of locking pins to keep the anchor in place, but you don’t have to use that.
This is an interesting article on an important subject that doesn’t get discussed much. When the bow would plunge into heavy seas on my Nordic 40 the Rocna anchor used to twist and make a bang as it jammed against the bow roller. While cruising in Europe I copied the idea from another boat, of lashing a horseshoe-shaped fender under the bow roller. It gives the anchor a fairly large surface to be snugged into and it helps absorb the impact of a plunging bow. It was a simple solution to eliminate the banging or tendency of the anchor to roll. Best regards, Max
We have an arm design for stowing the anchor underdecks, I call it the Millenium Bug, it’s a Royal PITA.
I am changing the Manson over to a Sarca Excel, the only anchor that looks like is going to fit without major modifications. Fingers crossed. I will need to reposition the roller more aft, unfortunately.
Anyway, I wanted to post a picture of our twin roller (if that’s what it should be called anyway)
I am not really sure what the purpose is (never got me thinking untill now) but I guess it helps dropping the anchor and distributing weight and loads.
What do you say John?
Needed to resize < 1MB
Ah we crossed comments. Anyway, I don’t really understand where that double roller fits in.
Sorry, I don’t really understand what your question is. Could you elaborate a little and also post that photo?
If you are asking my opinion on the Sarca Excel against the Manson, then I would definitely make the change because the Manson is one of the anchors with a very dangerous dragging modality.
More on all of this, including a Sarca review and the Manson dragging modality: https://www.morganscloud.com/category/anchoring-mooring/online-book-anchoring/
I’m designing and building an anchor pulpit platform right now. A pivoting double roller on a dedicated single anchor design. Maxwell RC10-10 vertical windlass is being installed as the windlass. Build is utilizing 1-1/2” .120 wall thick 316 stainless tubing all around. Plating is 1/8” in some areas as much as 1/4” with the main mounts being 3/16”. It self launches very smoothly now.
Looks like a good and functional design although I don’t have the engineering chops to opine on whether the tube will be strong enough to take the forces of being anchored in really bad weather.