Learning from anchor testing

When we chose our Spade anchor we read up on all the testing and advice we could find. Some of that was videos by Steve on his SV Panope YouTube channel. Since then he has continued to add many more tests. These are by far the most useful tests I’ve found.

He has tested many different anchors with underwater footage of them in different seabed as well as tests of 180degree resets and more recently a 180degree veering test. The Spade has come out really well in everything apart from rock cobbles and very soft/thin mud. An article on Attainable Adventure Cruising (see below) suggests that a slower setting process might improve the soft mud holding.

All this and a variety of articles on Attainable Adventure Cruising (who are great advocates for the Spade anchor) convince me that we made a good choice with our primary anchor (Spade 30kg).

It seems that there is widespread agreement that Fortress anchors are excellent kedge anchors (great holding, light and folding). So we will get the largest Fortress anchor that we feel we can easily lift into the dinghy as our kedge anchor. The weaknesses in resetting and coping with veering are less significant in the typical uses of a kedge where it is laid from a dinghy to provide a pull at a specific angle (eg to pull you off a beach or as part of a multi anchor hurricane setup).

While it is tempting to think you could/should always go bigger with anchors the costs of upsizing to the next size of Spade would have been significant (bigger windlass that would not have been 12volt, weight on the bow, difficulty in manually moving the anchor). These costs and the inconvenience in general use mean that, in a few years time when we have more experience, we would consider getting a 3rd “Storm” anchor that is a couple of sizes bigger. We are confident that our 30kg is sized so that we should be good in most “unexpected” squalls, gusts or weather changes. If we were to need a larger anchor it would be because we were expecting a hurricane. At that point we would expect some warning and would have moved to a “hurricane hole” and fully prepared the boat. That would include switching over to the “Storm” anchor. It would probably also be a Spade as being able to dismantle it for storage would be critical, Although it could also be a Mantus (potentially better in very soft mud).

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