PS Advisor


Bruce vs. Claw
As a PS subscriber I have happily read your various anchor tests. Id decided on a Bruce 66 pounder-or at least until I noticed that the Claw is almost $350 cheaper. Is there any difference between the two in design or construction that I should be aware of?

Ill be using the anchor heavily, and can’t afford to lose strength or setting ability.

Also, on a similar note, has Practical Sailor ever looked at the utility of anchor swivels?

Erik Hammarlund
Groton, Connecticut

The Claw is a virtual knockoff of the Bruce. The folks at Bruce indicated at one time that they intended to do metallurgical tests on the Claw to see if it was made of inferior materials. Last time we asked, they had not done so. The Claw is made by Simpson-Lawrence, which also makes the respected CQR and Delta, so it seems unlikely that the Chinese-made Claw is cheaply made.

We did note that the leading edges of the Bruce seemed somewhat sharper, perhaps accounting for its ever-so- slightly faster setting ability.

So, its a tough call. The price difference seems hard to justify, unless there is something about the two we don’t know. It is true that the geometry of anchors is critical to setting ability, such as the angle of the shank to the flukes, and that it is not something one notices by casual observation. In this regard, Robert Hale, Pacific Northwest distributor of Bruce anchors, claims that the Bruce is more consistently manufactured.

As for swivels, we have written about them and while they seem to make sense and be reliable, a number of noted anchor experts, including author and veteran cruiser Earl Hinz, vow they would never trust their boat to such a device. And just this week we heard from a professional captain who had a Holland Yacht Equipment swivel partially fail. First time weve heard that. He said HYE replaced it, telling him it was the first failure theyd ever had. Who knows. We might use a swivel on one anchor if it solved a bow roller problem or such, but not on all of our rodes. If one did let go, wed want another anchor ready to go without that risk.

Keel Depth
Why does a deeper keel make a boat more weatherly than an identical boat with a shoal keel of the same or greater surface area? A shoal keel can have a foil shape although not as skinny as a deeper keel. What gives?

Wayne Richard
via e-mail

Its not the total surface area of the two keels, but the length of the leading and trailing edges which gives a keel or any foil (such as an airplane wing) lift. It has to do with the differences in pressure on the two sides of the keel. Therefore, a longer keel will generate more lift and make the boat more weatherly. The same is true of sails; new sails are more weatherly than old stretched out sails. Shape of a foil, too, is critical.

On modern high-performance boats, such as the ID 48 which is raced as a one-design and not to a rating rule, the keel blades are very long. For upwind work, a deep keel is better than a long one of the same surface area.

If you ever get a chance to check out the keel blades on the open-class 60-footers used in the Around Alone race, you will see that their length is extraordinary. Of course, part of the reason is to locate the ballast bulb as far from the center of gravity as possible, in order to create the most righting moment possible, because these flat-bottomed boats can’t afford to flip. They stay inverted.

Darrell Nicholson
Practical Sailor has been independently testing and reporting on sailboats and sailing gear for more than 50 years. Supported entirely by subscribers, Practical Sailor accepts no advertising. Its independent tests are carried out by experienced sailors and marine industry professionals dedicated to providing objective evaluation and reporting about boats, gear, and the skills required to cross oceans. Practical Sailor is edited by Darrell Nicholson, a long-time liveaboard sailor and trans-Pacific cruiser who has been director of Belvoir Media Group's marine division since 2005. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license, has logged tens of thousands of miles in three oceans, and has skippered everything from pilot boats to day charter cats. His weekly blog Inside Practical Sailor offers an inside look at current research and gear tests at Practical Sailor, while his award-winning column,"Rhumb Lines," tracks boating trends and reflects upon the sailing life. He sails a Sparkman & Stephens-designed Yankee 30 out of St. Petersburg, Florida. You can reach him by email at