Making Anchor Tests More Meaningful

Original numbers from SV Panope best anchor video.

I have noticed lately that looking for and discussing the "best" seems to be more and more the way the cruising world is going. I blame two trends:

  1. Forums, where much of the discussion seems to be an argument about what boat or piece of gear is "best", which leads to ego polishing around who has the "best" and ego bruising for those who lose the best-battle.
  2. YouTubers who leverage the quest for best in their relentless battle to break out of the pack of thousands labouring for nothing (except making Google richer) while trying to become one of a handful of YouTube stars cruising the world funded by advertising.

But the bottom line is that there is no best. We all have different aspirations, needs, boats, cruising grounds, finances, and levels of experience, so to suggest that there could be a best of anything for all of us is just plain silly.

OK, enough generalities, let's look at the specific thing that set off the rant above: YouTube video #100 from Steve over at SV Panope in which he sets out to identify the best anchor with numerical analysis.

Now, before I go any further, I need to make clear that nothing in this article is a criticism of Steve and his excellent work, or to suggest that he is in any way biased.

Rather, I think that the work Steve has done over the last few years is some of the most important anchor testing done by anyone, anywhere, ever.

And if we listen carefully to Steve, he constantly warns us of the weaknesses in the quest-for-best, but the problem is that those in the grip of best-lust tend not to hear such warnings.

So let's figure out how each of us can use Steve's excellent data, mixed with my real-world experience, and that of others who comment here, to arrive at a best anchor for each of us.

And to make that task manageable, let's just focus on Steve's top 11 anchors. See the table I built from his video at the top of the article.

Now, given that we are trying to individualize the conclusion here, what follows is how I would select an anchor, not how you should—veering off into the latter would kind of miss the whole point of my rant above, wouldn't it?

Anyway, although this will be all about me—I know, what else is new—I will discuss my reasons for the selection criteria I chose, which will help you develop your own.

And, by the way, this is not just an academic exercise given that Phyllis and I are now in serious boat shopping mode and almost all the candidates we have looked at are equipped with anchors that we want no part of—amazing how many obsolete anchors are still out there.

Weaknesses

So, first off, when I study the above list two methodology weaknesses jump out at me:

  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. Resetting Failures With Rocna and Manson, and Thoughts on 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. Surging at The Anchor, an Alternative Proven Cure
  34. ShoreFasts—Part 1, When to Use Them
  35. ShoreFasts—Part 2, Example Setups Plus Tips and Tricks
  36. ShoreFasts—Part 3, The Gear
  37. How To Use An Anchor Trip Line
  38. Gale And Storm Preparation, At Anchor Or On A Mooring
  39. Storm Preparation, All Chain On Deck

John was born and brought up in Bermuda and started sailing as a child, racing locally and offshore before turning to cruising. He has sailed over 100,000 miles, most of it on his McCurdy & Rhodes 56, Morgan's Cloud, including eight ocean races to Bermuda, culminating in winning his class twice in the Newport Bermuda Race. He has skippered a series of voyages in the North Atlantic, the majority of which have been to the high latitudes. John has been helping others go voyaging by sharing his experience for twenty years, first in yachting magazines and, for the last 18 years, as co-editor/publisher of AAC.

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