Mailport April 1, 2000 Issue

Mailport 04/01/00

Anchor Tests
I would like to commend your staff for the thorough and professional manner in which you conducted the recent anchor tests (December 1999). Obviously, great care was given to provide a very fair testing environment for all anchors, and we at Fortress applaud your efforts.

We agree with your testers that it was a good idea to have kept the adjustable fluke angle on the Fortress at 32° instead of changing it to the 45° angle for the mud test, since this does add a measure of complication for the boater. Had the fluke angle been changed to 45° for the mud test, we would not have been surprised to see the Fortress at the top of the chart.

Also, we were very pleased to compare the results of the 10-lb. Fortress against industry leaders Bruce, CQR, Danforth and Delta, all of which weigh in at two to three and a half times more than the Fortress anchor that you tested.

Brian Sheehan
Fortress Marine Anchors
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida


I am glad to see the Barnacle finally getting some recognition among the other big brands. Your tests seem to bear out what I have observed over the 15 years of using it in the Keys, ICW and Bahamas. It has become my favorite anchor for a few reasons.

Firstly, it sets and holds like no tomorrow in the flat, hardpan coral bottom familiar to Keys’ sailors, where Bruces, CQRs and the like are almost worthless. Secondly, I’ve never fouled it when hanging on one hook, even in the scoured-out, current-ridden cuts of the Bahamas. This is because it lies nice and flat on the bottom. Thirdly, it comes up fairly easy.

I rate this anchor as less good in sand, but only because it does not appear to bury as deeply as a Danforth or Bruce. (It sets instantly, though). In grass and mud, a Barnacle is my second choice after a Northill, even with its exposed fluke. I got real spooked about my Bruce in this bottom after a vicious squall, when it popped out of the seabed with a basketball-size gob of grass on it’s fluke. The boat fetched up on the Barnacle and stayed. It was blowing 60 at the time.

Ian Cortina
s/v Sugar Pup
via e-mail


I have never heard anyone address anchor “creeping” or slowly “coming home” before. I have noticed this many times. Since a lot of my sailing has been done in tropical waters, I’ve been able to watch this happening while using a mask and snorkel. If the bow of the boat is swinging back and forth because of strong winds, I think the sudden loading when the chain pulls tight may increase the “creep.”

We had an interesting anchoring situation in Caleta Martial, just 11 miles from Cape Horn, Chile. We spent four days anchored while waiting to round the Horn with an expedition, and during those four days the winds rarely dropped to 60 knots. We talked daily with the Cape Horn lighthouse keepers, who told us that the winds were 100, gusting 120 knots.

Caleta Martial offered total protection from swell as the winds were right off the beach. There was excellent sandy bottom, only 40' deep. Both our main anchor, a 60-lb. CQR on 360' of 3/8" chain and a 40-lb. West Marine Performance on 50' of chain and 250' of nylon “creeped” a boat length over four days.

Paranoid about what would happen if we dragged anchor, we had someone on anchor watch around the clock and occasionally engaged the engine in slow forward to ease the strain on the anchors.

Anchored next to us was a good friend, Jean Paul, a Frenchman, formerly captain of Calypso, who had only set one 45-lb. CQR for his heavy Joshua-type 40' steel double-ender. He never kept anchor watch, never worried about a second anchor, and played cards and drank wine with his guests during the blow. He had been running sailing expeditions to Cape Horn and Antarctica for 11 years, based in Ushuaia, Argentina. This guy has seen it all!

When I asked his strategy, he said, “Zee secret is in zee chain!” He had huge chain; it looked like at least 1/2", and lots of it. He said he never dragged, in any conditions.

As critical as anchor design is to the scenario, I think the weight and probably the friction of the chain is also important.

The Spade anchor.

John Neal
Mahina Expeditions
Friday Harbor, Washington


I would like to add our comments about the Spade Anchor. Ordering and receiving the anchor was very easy. We faxed an order and they shipped it to our door. It arrived when they predicted, and there is no duty on anchors so no forms or red tape were involved. Our first real test of the anchor came early last summer. We were on our Passport 40 anchored in Tarpaulin Cove, Buzzards Bay, when a squall of 45 knots came through. Shortly after it hit, my husband saw another boat dragging towards us. The other boat, an O’Day 34, dragged down and caught its stern pulpit and backstay on our bow roller. They hung there, beam to the wind for the duration of the storm. So the Spade was holding not only our Passport 40 but also the O’Day 34 at right angles to us.

After the squall passed, we had to cut our anchor snubber line to free the O’Day. We were delighted. To have it hold us and another boat at right angles is an impressive performance.

Linda Marean Glaser
Cambridge, Massachusetts

Comments (0)

Be the first to comment on this post using the section below.

New to Practical Sailor?
Register for Free!

Already Registered?
Log In