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.

Darrell Nicholson, editor of Practical Sailor, grew up boating on Miami’s Biscayne Bay on everything from prams to Morgan ketches. Two years out of Emory University, after a brief stint as a sportswriter, he set out from Miami aboard a 60-year-old wooden William Atkin ketch named Tosca. For 10 years, he and writer-photographer Theresa Gibbons explored the Caribbean, crossed the Pacific, and cruised Southeast Asia aboard Tosca, working along the way as journalists and documenting their adventures for various travel and sailing publications, including Cruising World, Sail, Sailing, Cruising Helmsman, and Sailing World. Upon his return to land life, Darrell became the associate editor, then senior editor at Cruising World magazine, where he worked for five years. Before taking on the editor’s position at Practical Sailor, Darrell was the editor of Offshore magazine, a boating-lifestyle magazine serving the New England area. Darrell has won multiple awards from Boating Writer’s International, including the Monk Farnham award for editorial excellence. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license and has worked as a harbor pilot and skippered a variety of commercial charter boats.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here