I noticed several threads here, asking about chain size, anchor
size. Thought some of you might find this chapter from our book, Capable Cruiser
interesting. It compares the anchor
used by three different crews who circumnavigated at least twice on boats ranging from our 24 foot long Seraffyn
to Beth and Evans 47 foot Hawk.
Hope you find it helpful.
A Ground Tackle
Eight of us sat in a tight circle, almost oblivious to the rest of the party that ebbed and flowed around us. Every one of the forty or fifty guests in that Newport Beach
bayside home were involved in sailing—yacht designers, equipment
sailors—but interesting as their conversations were, our attention kept being drawn to our kindred souls, the long-distance voyagers who had all ended up in the same place at the same time, all bound away within the next few months for yet another voyage. Together the four couples had voyaged over 300,000 miles on boats ranging from 24 feet on deck
to 62 feet. Two major topics held us together as hors d’oeuvres dwindled and the other guests left: the perfect place to cruise
, an unanswerable question and, the ideal ground tackle system, one on which all eight of us seemed to agree in principle if not in detail. A week later we got together with two couples who were out fitting their first offshore
boats in anticipation of their first long cruise
and the same two topics dominated the evening but with one big difference. Whereas the experienced cruisers had talked about their ground tackle as a system, the soon-to-be-cruisers, seemed interested only in anchors and anchor types.
Larry and I sat down later that week to make up a list of what gear
we still needed for the final outfitting of Taleisin. Then we grew more sympathetic towards all new cruisers. Anchors, chain, windlass
, anchor-roller fittings, cleats
, all the gear for the ground tackle system our voyaging experience taught us we needed to carry, came to a total retail cost in excess of $9,000 (and that was in 1983, today inflation would make that closer to $20,000). Even with the most careful shopping
, trading and fabricating of some of our own gear, in 1983 we still spent over $4,000 on our anchor system and added 800 pounds to our boat’s cargo burden. Or, to put it another way, we used five percent of her eventual displacement
just for ground tackle. If she had been a lighter, length-to-weight displacement
; say a 32-foot boat
displacing 12,000 pounds, which is more normal for production type boats, this weight burden would have increased to almost seven percent of the boat’s total displacement. Fortunately for us, we were building our own boat so we could incorporate some parts
of this ground tackle system right into the design, parts
like the stern roller, the bits and boom gallows that serve as mooring cleats
. The person who buys a stock boat, has to add labor costs to their budget
as they try to fit rugged offshore
ground tackle on a boat that was originally planned for coastal cruising. It is no wonder they look for the lightest, cheapest, simplest way to go. This can be the biggest single
mistake potential sailors make. If you drag anchor and lose your boat, insurance money
will never replace the boat preparation time or the confidence of family
The following list shows the gear Taleisin carries, gear we feel makes up our anchor system. Remember this is a system for extensive offshore voyaging. The person who is going for a four-month voyage, choosing his seasons carefully, could probably cut this system down 30 percent in weight and eliminate back ups that are much more important when you get far away from sailing centers. I know the spare anchor we carry is not an absolute necessity, but it means the loss of our working anchor would not be quite so problematic. We wouldn’t have to resort to using the bulky, hard to winch
up, storm anchor until we reached the next marine
stores. The starred items are discussed briefly after the list. Other items marked with cc are discussed elsewhere in this book.
TALEISIN’S GROUND TACKLE SYSTEM
*Working anchor 35 lb. CQR
Stern anchor 12 H Danforth 12
Spare anchor 20 pound Danforth 20
Storm anchor 65 lb. Luke 3 piece fisherman 65 cc
anchor 5 lb. Danforth 5
Main chain 275 feet 5/16-inch high test 302 cc
Main bower line snubber 50 feet 5/8-inch nylon 5 cc
Second bower 30 feet 5/16-inch high test chain 33
Second bower line 300 feet 5/8-inch nylon 34
Stern bower 10 feet 1/4-inch B.B.B. chain 8
Stern bower line 250 feet 1/2-inch nylon 16.5
bower line 60 feet 3/8-inch nylon 2
Two speed bronze
Chain pipe and splitter 5
Second bower pipe 3
2 bow rollers 14 cc
Stern roller 14 cc
cleat and bits 15
end pennant block 2 cc
Snubber lines Two—15 foot 1/2-inch nylon 2 cc
*Boat hook/chain scrubber 3
*Dinghy and long oars 90
*Lead line 130 feet marked every five
fathoms, 3-pound lead 12
Line chafing protection hoses 3
Shackles, swivel for permanent mooring,
spare thimbles and galvanized seizing wire 17
Total weight 796 LB
* Although our anchors may appear oversized when you first compare them to the manufacturers’ recommendations, once you read all of the fine print, you’ll find they are not. Manufacturers of anchors must suggest sizes for the whole range of sailors and fishermen they sell gear to. According to the Danforth company, over 70 percent of their anchors are sold
to inland fishermen for use with small open boats. They would therefore be unwise to base their recommendations on the needs of offshore voyaging boats when people like ourselves make up less than two percent of their customer base. They try to cover the cruising sailor by stating that the recommendations are for winds of up to 60 knots with moderate protection from the seas. Offshore voyagers cannot guarantee they will avoid winds over 60 knots, so it is necessary to choose working anchors at least one size higher than manufacturers’ recommendations.
* Not only does a windlass make it possible for all of the crew to handle the proper size ground tackle, but, used in conjunction with well arranged cleats, it could also prevent future back strain problems and keep you more active all through life. For any chain over 5/16-inch we would recommend the use of a hydraulic anchor windlass with electric
as a second choice.
* A hard dinghy with long oars becomes part of your ground tackle system when you must kedge out an anchor, either to increase the anchoring
power you need because of an approaching hurricane
, to get another anchor set if yours starts to drag, or to set a stern hook in a crowded anchorage. You may not have the time to inflate a rubber dinghy and attach your outboard
in this situation. Using the longest oars possible will assist tremendously when you have to row against heavy winds and pull the weight of ground tackle with you.
* Although many people rely on their depth sounder
to decide where to anchor, a lead line is still necessary. It serves two purposes. It picks up a sample of the bottom to show you which anchor to use, and it can be taken with you into the dinghy so that you can sound a suspect channel or check all the way around the boat to make sure there is no chance of bumping into rocks or shallow spots should the wind
Eric and Susan Hiscock, who sailed three and a half times around the world including voyages as far north as Alaska
and to the southern Fiords of New Zealand
on boats ranging from 30 feet to 49 feet in length, provided the following list of their primary ground tackle for each of three Wanderers. They told us they had never once dragged anchor.
Wanderer III, sloop
30 ft, LWL 261/2, beam 81/2, displacement 9 tons. Bower anchor 35-pound CQR
on 45 fathoms of 5/16-inch chain. She was fitted with a chain pawl at the stemhead to assist when weighing.
Wanderer IV, Ketch
491/2, LWL 40, beam 121/2, displacement 22 tons. The original bower anchor was a 60-pound CQR, but this got badly bent in a storm and we replaced it with a 75-pound CQR on 45 fathoms of 1/2-inch chain. Handling was by electric
windlass with hand lever back-up.
Wanderer V, sloop
. LOA 391/2, LWL 331/4, beam 121/4, displacement 11 tons. Bower, 60-pound CQR on 40 fathoms of 3/8-inch chain. Handling by electric windlass with hand-lever back-up.
The bower anchors of Wanderer IV and V do not have to be lifted on board as they stow themselves on the bow rollers. Of course the above yachts all carried kedges (CQR’s) and nylon rodes and had five fathom ground chains to go with them.
Beth Leonard and Evans Starzinger have just completed their third voyage through the canals of Patagonia on board 47 foot Hawk,
their medium-displacement cutter
. Their primary anchor is larger than they would use if they confined their voyaging to mid-latitudes, but as they say, “Like most high-latitude cruisers, we prefer to carry one storm-sized anchor on our bow and rely on it all the time.” This list of anchor gear is from their Voyagers Handbook, Second edition, pub. McGraw Hill, 2006.
110 lb. Bruce on bow roller: i50 ft. of 3/8”high test chain plus 250 ft. of 5/8 in. three strand nylon. 150 ft. 3/8”high test chain stowed ready to connect in the bilge
55 lb. Delta
stowed in stern locker with 25 ft. of 3/8”high test chain and 300 ft of ¾”double-braid nylon line
40 lb. Danforth-type high tensile anchor, 12 ft. of 3/8”chain and 300 feet of ¾”double braid nylon line as kedge
32 lb. aluminum Fortress
Vertical electric windlass with hand crank back up