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  • 183. Top Tips Tuesday - The Weakest Link? The Art of Anchoring

    We do not recommend the use of swivels on an anchor rode

    A couple of weeks ago, whilst laying up our Mystery in the Corfu Boatyard, I saw that the guy next to me had lowered his ground tackle onto a piece of ply. Being a nosy so and so I wandered over and took note of his method of connecting his anchor to the chain! Stainless shackle from the anchor to a stainless swivel, stainless shackle to the chain.

    In Alex & Daria's excellent book 'Happy Hooking The Art of Anchoring' they do not recommend the use of swivels and I quote "We do not recommend the use of swivels on an anchor rode. Under normal circumstances you do not need it. Whether you have a chain or rope rode, it should untwist all by itself when you weigh anchor obviating the need for a swivel. Perhaps the only circumstance where you might consider adding a swivel would be if you were to anchor your boat for a very long period of time. Then, just as in a permanent mooring setup, you should incorporate a heavy duty swivel, as your boat is liable to swing around many times."

    They also write and once again I quote "Many people opt for a shiny stainless steel shackle. Just consider that stainless steel is, by its very nature, smooth and the pin is thus actually inclined to unscrew itself. We would suggest using a galvanized shackle instead. As the galvanized shackle's surface is rough it tends to bind and not open easily.

    Whatever you wind up using, make sure the shackle pin is secured or 'moused' with high grade monel wire. As opposed to stainless steel or copper, Monel® is inert and will not react with metal shackle."

    Millie the dog 'at anchor' in the beer garden

    As we all know stainless steel can rust and it's in hidden spots that are not easy to inspect. If, for whatever reason, you do need a swivel and you want stainless, go for the best i.e. Kong but inspect it on a regular basis for signs of rusting. As for me I have taken on board the advice from 'Happy Hooking' and fitted a galvanised fixed connector for my Vulcan (has the dig in/holding quality of the original Rocna, but with no roll bar and therefore clears my bow sprit). I used Loctite on the threads of the swivel for security and of course peace of mind!

    Mid November I go under the surgeon's knife and hopefully, with my new hip joint bedded or properly dug in, will be back in the sail loft before too long. To keep me out of mischief whilst laid up I have Happy Hooking to reread. I also intend to delve into Marine Diesel Basics that I skimmed through and blogged about last week, over 200 pages and excellent drawings on most subjects. Incidentally, when down in the local boatyard today, I did notice and photographed the danger of leaving a rodent or bird entry, as per the illustration in last week's blog!

    when down in the local boatyard today, I did notice and photographed the danger of leaving a rodent or bird entry

    If that isn't enough 'Splicing Modern Ropes' is on my reading list as well. All I need now are some short lengths of offcuts, be it Dyneema or similar high tech rope, borrow Andy's fids and D scissors and before you know it (I hope) I will be making up some soft shackles and loops. Once again, like the Diesel basics book, loads of very informative and easy to follow pictures/text.

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  • 156. Top Tips Tuesday - Sleep Soundly Skipper - Rocna and Fortress Anchors

    Rocna Vulcan Anchor

    On the Hunter Channel 31 we didn't have the luxury of a windlass (perhaps that's why my lower back is so problematic these days) however we did compensate for the lack of grunt by having, as our main anchor, one of those superb alloy Fortress ones. Our rode was multiplait with a lesser amount of chain, it did the job and we never had any sleepless nights but maybe that was the alcohol that we consumed! For the Mystery it had to be a Rocna, we sell loads and a number of guys have emailed us saying what a brilliant bit of kit, we even had a two page letter from a very grateful skipper in which he credits this make of Anchor for keeping him and his first mate happy, they can now sleep soundly when at anchor in the West of Scotland! Well my Jenny isn't the best of sleepers at any time and no it's not my snoring that causes this, however I decided that the Rocna was the one for me and as for my stern anchor it would be Fortress (light weight so easy to deploy from our dinghy and of course excellent holding capabilities). However when we came to fit the Selden retractable bowsprit onto the bow roller assembly the Rocna roll bar was in the way. Fortunately the Vulcan, which incidentally comes from the same stable, normally sold to powerboat owners, has no roll bar but the same excellent characteristics as the proven Rocna, problem solved!

    Happy Hooking - The Art Of Anchoring - Book

    Happy Hooking... the art of anchoring by Alex & Daria Blackwell and is an excellent read, over 300 pages on everything you would need to know about anchoring including the 'Top Ten Rude Behaviours' that show disrespect and breech of etiquette in an anchorage. Its a book that you can come back to time and again when a situation arises and you need a second opinion.  If you are in the market for a new anchor we are giving away a free copy of Happy Hooking with every Rocna or Vulcan!

    Anchor Ring

    As I said before the last boat we owned didn't have an windlass so maybe we should have invested in a Anchor Ring a nifty bit of kit that enables you to lift up to a 60lb anchor, apparently all you do is slip the anchor ring over the anchor line, attach the shackle buoy assembly and motor your boat forward at a 30-degree angle off of your anchor point and the anchor line will slide through the ring as the buoy floats the anchor to the surface, clever folks these Americans!

  • 64. Top Tips Tuesday - Sweet Dreams With Happy Hooking - Anchoring


    For anyone that thinks there is nowt better than spending the night at anchor in a secluded bay, then Happy Hooking - The Art of Anchoring by Alex & Daria Blackwell is a ‘must read’ for those of you who are poor sleepers when swinging on the hook! The second expanded edition of The Art of Anchoring really does delve into the subject, it draws on first-hand experience of three Atlantic crossings and countless days at anchor on both sides of the Atlantic and throughout the Caribbean. The Blackwells share the knowledge they’ve gained and the stories they’ve witnessed. This edition covers over 30 different designs of anchor including, of course, the new generation anchors such as Rocna and Manson. There are also chapters on a wide range of subjects such as anchoring technique, moorings, tying up, rafting and anchoring etiquette (see related articles written by the author(s): Anchoring BasicsAnchor Selection). As they write and I quote 'after all, anchoring is a spectator sport so you might as well show-off your expertise with some happy hooking!' 

    As a final thought, if you have been unable to use one of the new generation anchors like the Rocna or the Manson due to the presence of the roll bar, why not consider the recently released Rocna Vulcan, the latest design from the Rocna stable’s Peter Smith. The new Vulcan capitalizes on already finely tuned design elements, infusing many of its elder sibling’s proven performance advantages for an extremely quick and reliable set across a range of seabeds combined with rock solid holding power.



    Breaking from the Original Rocna design, the Vulcan features a unique combination of shank and fluke geometry – including an innovative roll-palm™ (A) at the rear of the fluke – which self-rights the anchor on the seabed without the use of a roll-bar. This is assisted by the V-bulb™ (B) which extends fluke ballast downward to gain maximum leverage and efficiency. This development permits a larger fluke surface area than competing designs which rely on simple dead weight, while the concave fluke (C) is similar in design to the Rocna, directly equating to more holding power and security.

    The Vulcan’s shank shape (D) encourages self-launching and self-stowing upon retrieval on the majority of bow rollers, with a liquid smooth action, ensuring ease of use for all operators.

    In addition to the use of high tensile steel, shank strength is optimized by a unique I+V profile™ shank design (E), granting improved resistance to bending courtesy of a computer optimized I-beam geometry. This visually elegant innovation also improves setting performance, with the lower V edge (F) cutting into the seabed and minimizing resistance to a deep and secure burial.

    Rocna and Vulcan both have a lifetime warranty.

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  • Cast Or Forged? Why A Good Quality Anchor Really Is Worth Its Weight In Gold!

    Picture the scenario, lee shore a falling tide and a freshening breeze, its then when the 'bargain anchor and chain' you purchased at the boat jumble doesn't seem so appealing. Yes, it was new and yes it was a copy but hey it was £200-00 cheaper, fortunately the money saved went on a new life raft! What's that saying, 'no such thing as a free lunch' and it's certainly true in the marine trade, be it anchor and chain, anchor warp and mooring ropes; Buy unknown makes and sometimes it can come back and bite with a vengeance, take these two anchors, the genuine drop forged CQR (bottom one in photo) hit our local marina lock gate at a speed of about four knots with eight ton of boat bringing up the rear, the other anchor a cast copy 'fell apart' as the skipper broke it out of the seabed, good job methinks he wasn't on a lee shore, falling tide and a freshening breeze! When you really need it, a good quality anchor is worth its weight in gold. We would always recommend trusted quality brands such as, Rocna, Manson, Knox, CQR, Delta and Fortress.

    Cast or Forged


  • You are the weakest link...


    As Anne Robinson would say "you are the weakest link, goodbye" last week I had a customer e-mail me an image of his Rocna anchor and chain, and he asked the following,

    "Should the anchor be re-galvanized?"


    "Any thoughts on the chain?"

    The anchor was perfect, though it had seen some prolonged use causing some of the galvanized coating to wear off, however, the chain link. ..

    My answer, "I wouldn't even trust it for securing a 50cc moped. We would never recommend chain links especially if in this condition! I think if the anchor had been used in anything but perfect conditions it would have been Bye-Bye to a superb anchor and a length of chain.

  • You only get what you pay for...

    The CQR anchor in this image hit the marina lock gate at a speed of approximately four knots with seven tons of boat behind (apparently the skippers gear shift jammed) As a forged anchor, it bent but did not break, unlike the cheap cast copy! Remember that old saying 'you only get what you pay for'. Whilst the CQR is still a favoured anchor for many, the new generation anchors such as Rocna, Manson Supreme or Knox have tremendous holding power and are not cast!

  • Brush Painted...

    It was nice to meet up again with Paul and Rachel Chandler who showed us round the restored Lynn Rival, impressed with the paint job on the topsides, apparently it had been brushed on! Awlgrip had been used which of course is distributed by Marineware, from whom we purchase our Epifanes paint, varnish and SP epoxy. Couldn't help notice that they had put their faith in a Rocna anchor, which is one of the new generation anchors that we stock, others are the Manson Supreme and Knox anchors.

  • Seen at the show

    Now that I am safely back from the show (despite the horrendous drive up North  Sunday on night what with losing the driver's windscreen wiper etc) it’s time to share with you some of the new products that I saw down there that were worthy of mention. There has been a lot of positive talk over the last couple of years & now satisfied customers who have purchased either Rocna or Manson Supreme New Generation anchors from us which is great; one skipper e mailed me to say ‘at last I can get a good night’s sleep without my crew worrying if it was holding’! Seen at the show was a UK designed & manufactured anchor with an apparently better holding capability than both these two makes, which is quite impressive. Naturally this performance does come with a price tag however the efficiency of the Knox anchor is about 50% higher than the best New Generation anchors & is four to eight times as efficient as the CQR, Delta and Bruce! Knox Anchor digging in

  • Anchor aweigh

    There I was on Wednesday night, just about to go to the bar, have a pint & find out how we had fared in the race when I was grabbed! 'Visitor over on front pontoon has lost his 15 kilo Rocna, is sailing North early doors to Amble. Can you help him?' Ok, lets see if we can, apparently had purchased this anchor but inadvertently had forgotten to use Ormiston seizing wire to 'mouse' the shackle pin to the shackle body, heavy seas earlier that day had seen the pin come adrift & the anchor disappear. I rang Andy in the off chance he was still at work at 9-30 that night, no surprise he was, no we did not  have a 15kilo in stock (new batch arrives mid June) but told me we did have a Manson Supreme of the same or similar holding capacity in stock. It was arranged that the skipper would collect at Amble marina next day (just so happened we were servicing a Yanmar diesel engine in the afternoon). His next port of call on his voyage North, the replacement  anchor was delivered to a delighted skipper, lets hope  he has  some seizing wire on board,  I forgot to ask!!!

  • Between a rock and a hard place - Anchoring again

    PBO August 2011 has yet another test of anchors with the Spade/Rocna/Manson types coming out top, to the extent that one 15kg Rocna has holding power equal to two 16kg Delta anchors! The old CQR is consigned to the scrap heap for breaking out under load, the Claw or Bruce style anchors give a poor result. One of the key factors to think about is if you normally keep your main anchor on the bow roller, would you rather have 15kg or 30kg stuck at the pointy end? The Ultimate Holding Capacity or UHC being key, Rocna 15kg is 480, Spade 15kg is 420, Manson 11.4kg is 225 and no others come close. If efficiency is UHC divided by weight, Rocna is on 30 while CQR is less than 10. If you would like to be in your bunk listening to the wind in the rigging rather than crouching in the cockpit all night on anchor watch, Rocna is the obvious choice.

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