West Marine Issues Notices on Rocna Anchors

Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 12:18PM - Comments: (6)

August 10, 2011

In the wake of questions about the tensile strength of steel used in the shafts of Rocna anchors, West Marine has issued “product specification notices” to customers who have purchased Rocna anchors since 2010 and recently posted the notice on its website. West Marine is one of world’s largest distributors of the Rocna, a plow-style anchor sold in 34 different countries. The Rocna earned a Recommended rating in Practical Sailor's 2008 tests of heavyweight anchors, finishing behind the Manson Ray and the Manson Supreme (November 2008).

 

The West Marine notification states that certain Rocna anchors were made with a “weaker grade of steel compared to that published on the Rocna website” and directs customers to Rocna for information regarding the materials and construction of the Rocna anchor. Under its “No Hassles Guarantee,” West Marine offers a full refund to owners who are not satisfied with their purchase.

West Marine’s offer comes after several months of heated online debate over the strength of the shafts of Rocna anchors made in China. Rocna CEO Steve Bambury told Practical Sailor that based on recent tests, Rocna could find no cause for a recall. “The [anchor] chain is going to fall apart long before the anchor ever does,” he said.

According to Bambury, Rocna recently learned that a “small portion” of anchors manufactured in China during the first quarter of 2010 were made “using a shank steel with a reduced specification.”

A former Rocna production manager, Grant King, claims that as many as 4,000 Rocna anchors don't meet the specifications that Rocna had promoted on its website. Rocna, however, disputes that claim.

“We know that less than 300 anchors were sent to North America, ranging in sizes from 9 to 330 pounds,” Bambury told PS. “None of the 33-pound models were sent to North America and can be ruled out.” He said there is no way to identify the anchors with the reduced specifications.

The controversy surrounding the Rocna anchors sheds a light on the dark, not-so-secret secret in marine manufacturing: Once a domestic-made product gains a large market share or loyal following, production is often shifted offshore; profits go up, prices remain steady (although not always), and quality often suffers.

Makers argue that they must remain competitive and keep costs down. However, a shift to offshore production—particularly when you're dealing with marine-grade or high-tensile steel products—requires extremely close monitoring of quality control. As we've seen in some of our past tests, not all manufacturers are following through on quality control.

For a more detailed report on West Marine's “product specification notice” and the history of the controversy surrounding Rocna anchors, see the September issue of Practical Sailor magazine.

Comments (6)

Just bought 22lb rocna from West Marine last June and not as yet used. Surely there is a way to know if mine is defective.

Posted by: Bill B | August 15, 2011 11:27 AM    Report this comment

Planned on purchasing a new Rocna anchor for our Swan 46 upon our return to Trinidad in Nov.2011.Will NOT even consider buying one without an appropriate certification as to where it was manufactured ( country) and a written guarantee as to specifications.Mr Bambury you just shot yourself in the foot. Thanks to West Marine for supporting the consumer. Emmett J Gantz s/v Le Reve Antigua, West Indies

Posted by: Emmett G | August 14, 2011 9:28 PM    Report this comment

Here we have another example of corporate greed at its worst. The Ronca anchor is a fine piece of engineering. Quite simply put, it works. Although it was first designed by a New Zelander, it is manufactured in China. If one is to believe statements on the Ronca website, initially there was very careful oversight of the manufacturing process to ensure that strict quality parameters were met. However, it now appears that the executives in charge have opted to take the short-sighted way past an unfortunate situation. It seems that they are aware of a problem, but have decided to sweep it under the rug in the hopes that it will just go away. Rather than step up to the plate and do the right thing by recalling all suspect anchors, they are instead leaaving them out in the field where unsuspecting owners of their product are trusting their boats, and quite possibly their lives, to pieces of equipment that are known to be defective. Shame on you, Ronca! I hope knowledge of your selfishness spreads and your product sales plummet as would-be customers place their trust in tried and true competitive products from suppliers who stand behind their products. And Kudos, West Marine! Good on ya! Captain Harry, s/v La Nostra, Gredada, WEst Indies

Posted by: Harry R | August 13, 2011 7:32 PM    Report this comment

West marine just raised the bar in my eyes. Long time sailor, merchant mariner, presently with the coast guard . Bambury you show your true colors.

Posted by: SCOTT N | August 13, 2011 8:07 AM    Report this comment

I agree with Mr. Chan. I also have been recommending Rocna anchors. Very disappointing...

Michael Quiriconi S/V Sagittaire / San Carlos, Sonora, Mexico

Posted by: MICHAEL Q | August 12, 2011 9:05 PM    Report this comment

As a loyal Rocna user, I am appalled at the response from Steve Bambury concerning the quality of his anchors.Unless I am misreading his statement, it appears that because "only" 300 anchors were made at the reduced specification, Bambury does not feel a recall is needed. Is he waiting for 300 boats on the rocks before he deems that the 300 anchors are worthy of a recall?

Kudos to West Marine for stepping up to the plate and offering no hassle returns for their customers. Unless Rocna steps up to the plate and at a minimum is willing to replace a suspect anchor with another of known construction, their credibility in my eyes has been critically damaged. Without some type of replacement program, Rocna is essentially asking their customers to play Russian Roulette with their anchors.

I have sung the praises of my Rocna 25 and through that praise I have influenced several people to buy an appropriately sized Rocna. I am personally embarrassed by Rocna's violation of my trust. I'll bet Mr. Bambury would not use one of the 300 anchors on his boat.

Addison J Chan s/v Threepenny Opera Vero Beach/Toronto

Posted by: ADDISON C | August 11, 2011 8:00 PM    Report this comment


Add your comments ...

New to Practical Sailor? Register for Free!

Already Registered? Log in

Forgot your password? Click Here.