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Old 09-04-2023, 13:35   #1
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Anchors for the PNW/BC: San Juan and Gulf Islands

This is not intended to be a “what’s the best anchor” discussion, but a simple what do you have?

For those of you that anchor frequently in the San Juan Islands, Canadian Gulf Islands or north to Desolation Sound, what anchor do you primarily use for the variety of sea bottom types? Reading Fatty Goodlander’s book “Creative Anchoring” one of his recommendations is to look at what other cruising boats have on their bow. This is a common suggestion I find in books on many topics. So while walking the dock in my marina in Blaine, I paid attention to the bow anchors. Of the 25+ sail and power boats I passed, the majority (~80%) had a Bruce, the remaining were a mix of Delta, Danforth and CQRs, with one roll bar Rocna and one Rocna Vulcan. Fatty does recommend to look at boats that actively anchor and since most of the boats I surveyed don’t seem to leave the dock, the findings may not be a good indicator. My boat came with a 35lb CQR on the bow. It’s time to upgrade.

So for those of you that frequently anchor in the San Juan Islands, Gulf Islands or north to Desolation Sound, what do you have hanging off your bow as a primary anchor?

Thanks,
DD
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Old 09-04-2023, 13:47   #2
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Re: Anchors for the PNW/BC: San Juan and Gulf Islands

My Excel has kicked ass since the day I bought it. I think I have had 3 fouled settings. Most likely due to my dropping chain on top of it instead of paying it out. Once set, it has never dragged. I'm a believer in it. I spent two weeks in San Juan's (mostly Orcas, Stewart, Sucia) and one week in the Gulf Islands (as far north as Pirates Cove) this last summer, all on the hook with no issue. Before than, about 5 total weeks in San Juan's all on anchor.
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Old 09-04-2023, 14:11   #3
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Re: Anchors for the PNW/BC: San Juan and Gulf Islands

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Originally Posted by DoubleD View Post
This is not intended to be a “what’s the best anchor” discussion, but a simple what do you have?...
So for those of you that frequently anchor in the San Juan Islands, Gulf Islands or north to Desolation Sound, what do you have hanging off your bow as a primary anchor?

Thanks,
DD
We spent 10 years of seasonal cruising in the PNW waters you mention, as well as extensive cruising on the outside of Vancouver Island.

We have a 44lb Bruce on chain rode as our primary anchor, with a heavier Bruce in reserve (but unused up north).

Often we anchored stern to the shore with a line around a tree.

Later we continued with this anchor and rode as we completed our circumnavigation. We found it very satisfactory.
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Old 09-04-2023, 16:44   #4
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Re: Anchors for the PNW/BC: San Juan and Gulf Islands

DD

For the PNW at least, I believe that the recommendation to "look at what the local boats use" has limited value because most anchors will perform reasonably well here. The summertime winds are usually light, and most seabeds are easy to penetrate.

That said, I have used the following anchors when cruising in the Salish Sea.

CQR - 8 years (might have been a copy)
Bruce - 10 years
Manson Supreme - 3 years
Spade - 3 years
Mantus M1 - Short term cruise
Excel - Short term cruise

All of the above worked fine. None dragged once an initial set was achieved.

Again, it is an easy place to anchor. Light Summertime winds, sheltered anchorages, and good bottoms.

Perhaps a better question would be to ask which anchors/situations do not work.

Steve
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Old 09-04-2023, 17:28   #5
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Re: Anchors for the PNW/BC: San Juan and Gulf Islands

I've had genuine Bruce on three different boats cruising the Inside Passage. I switched from Bruce to Rocna 12 years ago on my second boat. It was immediately obvious that the Rocna set quicker and with more authority. Even more striking difference setting on kelpy bottoms. One of the first upgrades I made to the third boat was a Rocna to replace the Bruce it came with. The Bruce's were OK, except in soft or kelpy bottoms, but judging from nearly 1000 nights at anchor it seems to me the Rocnas are clearly superior.
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Old 09-04-2023, 19:26   #6
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Re: Anchors for the PNW/BC: San Juan and Gulf Islands

Hello double D.

I had a slip two different times at Blaine Harbor for a total of a year or so. One time with a 30 foot boat that had a Bruce claw anchor on it with 50 feet of chain. (Thank goodness too because it had no windless). That claw anchor for some reason did pretty good in Drayton (just outside the marina) Sucia Island did good and Steward Island. I liked that claw anchor. But I would never own anther one. I’m in love with the Vulcan now.

The next boat I had there was a 38 foot sailboat. It had the Rocna roll bar style anchor on it. I think it was 45lbs with a hundred foot of chain. It worked, but I was disappointed in it for some reason. It held but seemed to move some. All anchoring in the same places as my last boat. I don’t know, but I got fussy one day and bought a Vulcan 55lbs anchor and I was impressed. Like WoW I like this anchor. Can’t really give you all the reasons now being it was a few years ago. And Panope’s videos helped me make a informed decision about the Vulcan. Hey watch his videos on YouTube!

I wouldn’t put to much stock into what you see other people use. Most anchors look like lunch hooks or calm weather one night out people. But mind you I’ve been asked why I use a 55lbs anchor with 250 feet of 3/8th chain. Like it’s some kind of crazy over kill. I’m out in the worst and best of the weather is what I say and I like to know I will not be dragging while I sleep next to a anchor alarm that doesn’t go off. Really if I buy anther anchor it would be anther Vulcan but heavier. Maybe a 75lbs? I don’t know.

Best of luck to you Double D.

Sam
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Old 09-04-2023, 19:45   #7
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Re: Anchors for the PNW/BC: San Juan and Gulf Islands

We have had our current boat, equipped with an oversized Bruce, for almost 6 years. We do a bunch of anchoring in Puget Sound, as well as inside and outside Vancouver Island (sans 2 years in the San Juans for COVID). We are extremely pleased with the Bruce and have no need to search for improvement. Thank you, previous owners!
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Old 09-04-2023, 20:20   #8
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Re: Anchors for the PNW/BC: San Juan and Gulf Islands

+1 for the Excel.
The only time it didn't hold was when the wind piped up and we had a soupy bottom.
It dragged slowly so we moved to a different part of the bay and it was fine.
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Old 09-04-2023, 20:52   #9
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Re: Anchors for the PNW/BC: San Juan and Gulf Islands

Several post stating “ oversized “. You could throw a “oversized” rock out with some decent chain length and it will hold 95% of the time. There is a reason there is sizing charts.
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Old 10-04-2023, 03:35   #10
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Re: Anchors for the PNW/BC: San Juan and Gulf Islands

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There is a reason there is sizing charts.
To affirm the anchor marketing department’s fantasies .
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Old 10-04-2023, 06:03   #11
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Re: Anchors for the PNW/BC: San Juan and Gulf Islands

Anchoring in the San Juan's usually isn't to difficult, so most any anchor if properly sized should work if you use the correct amount of scope. With that said any modern anchors such as a Spade, Manson, Rocna, etc are probably better, and the people I know who have upgraded including myself has been happy with their choice over an older style plow or bruce anchors.
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Old 10-04-2023, 06:57   #12
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Re: Anchors for the PNW/BC: San Juan and Gulf Islands

More important than exact location is the nature of the bottom.

We've been cruising PNW full time for 5 years now and most bottoms are mud with good holding but prone to underwater hazards that can foul your anchor, most often sunken logs.

Lots of experience with different anchors over the past 40 years (love to anchor and a bit of an Anchor Nerd), when we arrived in PNW from SF Bay our primary was a Rocna Vulcan, which never dragged once set, finicky to set though.

Watching the anchor research and tests in the past 5 years from Panope, Practical Sailor, etc. the Spade and the Excel seem to have risen to the top as performing best for setting, resetting, etc. so I decided to get both as I like to sleep well at night.

Our primary for the past 3 years is an oversized Excel an it is awesome- easy to set, resets reliably, holds through all the winter gales (in good mud bottoms).

I subscribe to the wisdom that for the cruiser your storm anchor should be your primary bower so my Spade is smaller a backup and anchor for summer.

As important as your anchor is your technique and strategies, and dealing with potentially fouled bottoms is at the top of my list for PNW, so I ALWAYS deploy this hidden trip line strategy and it's saved my butt numerous times.
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Old 10-04-2023, 09:52   #13
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Re: Anchors for the PNW/BC: San Juan and Gulf Islands

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As important as your anchor is your technique and strategies, and dealing with potentially fouled bottoms is at the top of my list for PNW, so I ALWAYS deploy this hidden trip line strategy and it's saved my butt numerous times.
That's clever!

I've dragged up logging cables and waterlogged logs but have always been able to get free. I don't like the idea of a float over the anchor but a line following the rode solves the problem.
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Old 10-04-2023, 10:07   #14
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Re: Anchors for the PNW/BC: San Juan and Gulf Islands

I've been sailing BC waters for the last 40 years except for the four years that I was offshore. As long as you stay among the islands (Gulf, San Juan, Discovery, Broughtons, etc.) anchoring is generally easy with sand (very remote) and mud (popular - I wonder why?) bottoms. You just have to look at the anchors the local commercial fish boats use (various homemade adaptations of Northills) to understand how easy anchoring is around here. (Up the inlets is a different story; they are VERY deep and anchorages are few and far between)

For the first 35 years Scorpius, a 40', 35,000 lb. steel boat, had a 44# CQR as it's primary anchor; more recently a 35kg Rocna. The CQR dragged a few times; the Rocna never has. I LOVE that anchor!

Anyway, around here the biggest problem is not what type of anchor you have and how well it will hold: it's finding room to swing in popular anchorages - considering that the rocky shore is often VERY close and you have to allow for 16' tides. Having, and being able to use, a stern line to a tree or log or whatever ashore, is pretty well essential.
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Old 19-04-2023, 18:00   #15
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Re: Anchors for the PNW/BC: San Juan and Gulf Islands

Quote:
Originally Posted by DoubleD View Post
This is not intended to be a “what’s the best anchor” discussion, but a simple what do you have?

For those of you that anchor frequently in the San Juan Islands, Canadian Gulf Islands or north to Desolation Sound, what anchor do you primarily use for the variety of sea bottom types? Reading Fatty Goodlander’s book “Creative Anchoring” one of his recommendations is to look at what other cruising boats have on their bow. This is a common suggestion I find in books on many topics. So while walking the dock in my marina in Blaine, I paid attention to the bow anchors. Of the 25+ sail and power boats I passed, the majority (~80%) had a Bruce, the remaining were a mix of Delta, Danforth and CQRs, with one roll bar Rocna and one Rocna Vulcan. Fatty does recommend to look at boats that actively anchor and since most of the boats I surveyed don’t seem to leave the dock, the findings may not be a good indicator. My boat came with a 35lb CQR on the bow. It’s time to upgrade.

So for those of you that frequently anchor in the San Juan Islands, Gulf Islands or north to Desolation Sound, what do you have hanging off your bow as a primary anchor?

Thanks,
DD
One draw back of that advice is that is doubtful that a majority of those boat at the dock ever go somewhere to anchor. So, it might be irrelevant as to what’s on the bow.
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