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The Best Anchor

An anchor that sets quickly and reliably in a variety of situations and resists dragging no matter the conditions is one of the most important pieces of gear protecting you and your boat.

Mantus just came out with the M2 anchor designed without a rollbar in order to address concerns with bow fit on some boats. We’ll add a more complete review once some initial tests and user reports are available.

After comparing a wide-range of anchors, the Mantus is our pick for the best all-purpose anchor to keep on the bow roller ready to deploy.

Runner-up

Rocna

Sets quickly and holds well, but may have trouble resetting in veering winds.

The Rocna boasts a weighted tip and wide concave fluke which result in consistent setting and great holding. Like the Mantus it has a roll bar to help it right itself self, but it’s slightly higher price and some concerns that its smaller roll bar may clog with debris made it our runner up.

Also great

Spade

Despite good performance, a higher price point for a comparably sized anchor plus the slightly better performance of Rocna and Mantus made us lean towards other modern roll-bar style anchors over the Spade.

The Spade has a lead ballast tip and hollow fluke which help it quickly find the right attitude for setting and its wider fluke is a great improvement to the holding of older plow-styles like the Delta. It is priced higher than the Rocna or Mantus, but if you prefer an anchor without a roll-bar it’s a great choice.


The Research

We spent nearly 40 hours reading through every review, comparison, and test that we could find. Though many reports of anchor testing exist in print and internet articles (especially those sponsored by the manufacturers), these tests often fail to simulate real-world anchoring experience or to compare like anchor with like in terms of weight and material composition, rendering some of the data gathered quite unhelpful. When you are consulting these results as part of your research, be sure to carefully consider how their tests are constructed. Personal testimony is also valuable, but keep in mind that many cruisers have a sense of “brand loyalty” to their preferred anchor, and many of us have rarely had the occasion to own and repeatedly use a wide range of anchors, which makes testimonials on forums quite subjective.

We’ve summarized some of the findings here, but see the “references” section for a few sources we found to be more thorough and helpful than most.

What to Look For

It might seem obvious that the most desirable trait for an anchor is holding your boat in place where you set it, but there are a variety of factors to consider. The location and type of use you intend will certainly be a personal factor, and for some cruisers, more than one anchor may need to be carried either as back-up or to widen the anchoring strategies available for your vessel.

However, we each need to choose a mainstay anchor to carry on the bow, ready to be deployed at a moment’s notice. When choosing such an all-purpose anchor, here are a few things to consider. 

Consistent and Reliable Setting

We want an anchor that sets the first time every time, even in less than ideal conditions. If an anchor is difficult to get into the proper attitude to set or has other features that prevent it from setting quickly, this is less desirable even if it holds well after it digs in. And of course, once it sets it should stay put even through the strongest winds! Many modern anchors tout weighted tips that may help them to favor immediate setting and wide flukes that increase their resistance to dragging.

Holding in a Wide Variety of Situations

Some anchors are known to work great in sand, but have difficulty cutting through grass or setting in rocky bottoms. The mainstay anchor on a cruising boat should reliably set and hold in the widest variety of bottom types possible. Though a scope of at least 5:1—or even better 7:1 or more—is ideal for an overnight stay, sometimes swinging room in a tight cove or crowded anchorage doesn’t allow for sufficient scope. Trusting your anchor to hold even with a short scope will help you rest easier. 

Handling Shock Loads and Veering Winds

When the weather turns and an anchored boat is caught in surge or a violent wind shift, worries about dragging anchor follow. So we are looking for an anchor that can handle these conditions as well. With a large enough surface area on the fluke to prevent it popping out under a shock load and a strong enough shank to withstand a sudden twisting force.

Immediate Resetting Ability

If worse comes to the worst and the anchor does release its hold, we want one that is quick to right and reset itself. The anchor should be designed to somehow turn itself back into the proper position for setting and quickly dig back in.

The Competition

In recent years a new generation of anchor technology has begun to gain significant popularity in the cruising boat market and for good reason. Older generation anchors such as the CQR (articulated plow), Bruce (Claw-style), and Danforth-style are sometimes held on to as the “tried and true” by long-time boaters, but each have proven to have their weaknesses in performance.

Peter Smith has written well on the differences between old generation and new generation anchors, though in full-disclosure he is the designer of the Rocna so there is some concern for bias in his description of the developments. But others have consistently made the same historical division between old and new. Practical Sailor’s article on Anchor Testing and Rode Loads offers a slightly different interpretation, though it seems there is a good general consensus that the developments in the new generation anchors are positive improvements on the older designs. 

Older Generation Anchors

CQR

CQR anchor

Many of these older designs continue to be produced today especially as copies of the original, for example Lewmar continues to offer the genuine CQR, as well as a Claw-style, and a Delta plow-style anchor. However, the CQR has been shown to have difficulty setting in several troublesome bottom types and does not always land in the proper attitude to set even in an ideal anchorage sometimes requiring multiple attempts.

Claw

Claw anchor

The original Bruce brand claw-style anchor is no longer produced, but is often imitated. These are generally known for having lower holding power, requiring a heavier anchor to achieve the same relative holding capability. It also has difficulty penetrating some harder or weedy bottom types and like the CQR can also have some difficulty if it does not land in the proper setting orientation.

Danforth

Danforth

The stowable fold-flat design makes this a recommended secondary anchor.

A Danforth-style anchor offers a larger surface area relative to weight, which is an advantage, but because of its fold-flat design it can sometimes fail to bite into the surface. It also does not handling veering well and can be prone to bending, especially if it is an imitation product of inferior construction. However, a Danforth anchor is a highly recommended secondary anchor because of their easy to stow design. Deploying it in conjunction with another anchor—either off the stern or bow—generally eliminates some of the weaknesses by asking it to fulfill a simpler task. The most trusted Danforth-syle anchor is made by Fortress.

 

Newer Generation Anchors

Delta

Delta

A significant improvement over CQR anchors, but it still has difficulty in some bottom types.

The Delta plow-style anchor came to the market in the 1980s and was essentially a development of the CQR design. It changed the balance of weight to allow the anchor to better right itself in setting and resetting situations. Lewmar now owns the brand, though many copies abound. While it was a significant improvement over older styles, it still has difficulty in some troublesome bottom types. The West Marine/SAIL magazine tests showed it performing poorly at shorter scopes, though it does set quickly.

Spade

Also great

Spade

Despite good performance, a higher price point for a comparably sized anchor plus the slightly better performance of Rocna and Mantus made us lean towards other modern roll-bar style anchors over the Spade.

The Spade has a lead ballast tip and hollow fluke which help it quickly find the right attitude for setting and its wider fluke is a great improvement to the holding of older plow-styles like the Delta. It is priced higher than the Rocna or Mantus, but if you prefer an anchor without a roll-bar it’s a great choice.

The Spade anchor uses a similar strategy to position itself for proper setting, it has a lead weighted “ballast” in the tip while the shank is hollow. Its concave fluke is more efficient at providing resistance compared to the older plow-style and it consistently performs well. Its performance may not be quite as strong at shorter scopes compared to Rocna or Mantus which have even larger fluke surface area, but all around it is a very strong candidate. It’s higher price for a comparably sized anchor plus the slightly better performance of Rocna and Mantus in recent comparative holding tests made us lean towards recommending these modern roll-bar style anchors over the Spade. However, some boaters dislike the rollbar—either for aesthetics or fit on the bow—making the Spade their best alternative.

Links

Rocna

Runner-up

Rocna

Sets quickly and holds well, but may have trouble resetting in veering winds.

The Rocna boasts a weighted tip and wide concave fluke which result in consistent setting and great holding. Like the Mantus it has a roll bar to help it right itself self, but it’s slightly higher price and some concerns that its smaller roll bar may clog with debris made it our runner up.

Building on the technology of the Spade, the Rocna’s tip is weighted (though not to the extreme found in the Spade) and the fluke is concave, but larger. It also incorporates a roll-bar which helps the anchor right itself on the sea-bed. The Rocna sets quickly and repeatedly performs very well in holding tests even at shorter scopes. Practical Sailor did note a concern in their tests on the ability to handle veering conditions. The roll bar became clogged with mud, delaying the anchor’s ability to right itself and reset. According to Morgan’s cloud, this resetting problem has been experienced by others as well and they chose to stop recommending it. 

Links

Manson Supreme

Manson Supreme

Similar to the Rocna, and although cheaper, it has slightly less holding power and is prone to the same clogging problem.

With a very similar design to the Rocna, the Manson Supreme was noted with the same clogging problem by multiple sources and also demonstrates slightly less holding power in some tests, perhaps due in part to the slightly smaller surface area of its fluke.

Mantus


label: Our Pick title: Mantus amazon: asin: B008LVOSZ8 # Stainless: B00DUXDX4O westmarine: url: /buy/westmarine/mantus-anchors–galvanized-steel-anchor–P017750647 oneliner: The quickest and most reliable to set and the best holding in the most conditions, available for a better price than the Rocna or Spade. links:

  • url: https://www.practical-sailor.com/blog/-11024-1.html title: A Second Look at Anchor Shanks year: 2013
  • url: https://www.practical-sailor.com/issues/37_38/features/Mantus-Upgrades-to-a-Stronger-Shank_11319-1.html title: Mantus Upgrades to a Stronger Shank year: 2014
  • url: https://www.mantusmarine.com/anchor-shank-strength-for-lateral-applied-loads/ title: Anchor Shank Strength for Lateral Applied Loads year: 2013
  • url: https://www.mantusmarine.com/mantus-anchors/#1473344624237-3088b152-cc33 title: Mantus Sizing Guide
  • url: https://www.mantusmarine.com/m2-anchor/ title: The M2 Anchor (Mantus) —

The Mantus anchor, with its wide, sharpened fluke, weighted tip, and roll bar is known for setting quickly and holding on through a wide range of conditions. It is our top pick for an all-around anchor to carry on the bow. 

The Mantus has a wider flatter fluke area than the Rocna and a wider roll-bar which should help address the potential clogging issue. Some reviewers have expressed concern that Mantus doesn’t look as strong as the Rocna or other similarly styled competitors. Mantus responded directly to concerns raised by Practical Sailor by strengthening the shank and they offer a lifetime warranty on its anchors against damage or defect. Other tests (SV Panope) show Mantus among the quickest and most reliable to set and reset among a wide range of anchors. That combined with its price in comparison with the Rocna or Spade made it our top choice. 


Updates

Mantus just came out with the M2 anchor designed without a rollbar in order to address concerns with bow fit on some boats. We’ll add a more complete review once some initial tests and user reports are available.


Do you think we got it wrong or are missing something? Let us know!
Curators
Avatar of Dustyn Keepers Dustyn Keepers
References
sailingbritican.com
Best Anchor For Your Sailboat (2017)
oceannavigator.com
New-gen Anchors are Now-Gen (2017)
youtube.com
Anchor Test Compilation (2016)
petersmith.net.nz
Independent Anchor Performance Testing (2011)
westmarine.com
Anchor Testing (2006)
newcontent.westmarine.com
SAIL Magazine: Holding Power (2006)
rocna.cmpgroup.net
Yachting Monthly: Ultimate Holding Power (2006)
practical-sailor.com
Anchor Resetting Tests (2013)
practical-sailor.com
Anchor Tests: Bending More Shanks (2013)

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