Testing the Limits of Tiny Anchors


calibrated load cell

Each anchor was pulled in both a straight line and at 90 degrees in both soft mud and firm sand at a 10:1 scope. All findings regarding load were recorded with a calibrated load cell.

Testers performed the 90-degree test by lightly setting the anchor (with a 15-pound load in mud, 40 pounds in sand) and then slowly pulling at a 90-degree angle, as though the wind or tide changed. Additionally, each anchor was used day-in, day-out aboard an inflatable dinghy to evaluate ease of use and real-world effectiveness.

To push the limits of these anchors, we also used both the Guardian G5 and Mantus Dinghy Anchor as lunch hooks in good sand for an 8,000-pound catamaran. We wanted to see how they responded to surging and shifts over a period of hours, under what would amount to storm loads for a dinghy anchor.

We used a 10:1 scope in 4 to 6 feet of water and a polyester rode to avoid the damping effect of chain, inducing shock loading similar to a chain stretched tight by a powerful squall, exacerbated by the steep chop of shallow water. Both held through significant shifts in winds up to 15 knots in an exposed anchorage.

The Mantus began to slowly drag when gusts hit 20 knots, while the Guardian simply kept digging deeper. Results were impressive for bits of metal weighing little more than a paperweight. Needless to say, anchoring a 34-foot catamaran with a 2-pound anchor is a dumb idea that we would never recommend.

Practical Sailor has been independently testing and reporting on sailboats and sailing gear for more than 45 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. Darrell is booking speaking engagements in Colorado, Idaho, California, the Pacific Northwest, and British Colombia this summer. You can reach him by email at practicalsailor@belvoir.com.