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Old 27-08-2021, 16:04   #1
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Some thoughts on my Sarca Excel #9

I've just finished a 6 week trip to Maine, although only 4 weeks of it were really spent cruising. I don't have a ton of experience with other anchors, so I won't say anything definitive about it in comparison to other designs, but I thought I'd give my thoughts on it sort of independently.

In regards to the size, my thoughts when choosing it were to get the largest anchor that my boat could handle, and so far it seems I was successful. My windlass has had no problems raising it, as long as it's broken from the mud with my engine, even from 45ish feet. I wonder if I could have gone with the 121lb #11. Speaking of breaking the anchor free, I've had no issue with that either. Once I get the chain vertical and secured with the chain lock, I just idle forward and it comes right out.

I didn't have any night that I would consider a strenuous test of the #9's holding ability, the strongest winds I saw were one night in Pulpit Harbor in the low 20's and a couple nights in Hadlock Cove that got to the low/mid 20's. I had about 5:1 scope and didn't drag at all. I had no real problems getting a good set. In a couple places, if I backed down around 1800 rpm at 3:1 I could get it to drag steadily, but at 4:1 it always held during my back downs.

A big reason I chose the Excel was the solid shank and welded one piece construction. This reduces it's tip weight percent, but I didn't see any issues with that. In Hadlock Cove, which has a weedy enough bottom that the chain came up perfectly clean and the anchor came up with a hug bundle of kelp on it, I had no problem setting the anchor or with the gradual 180 degree wind shifts over the course of the two nights I was there. Navionics showed I moved in a pretty perfect circle around a single spot. It's not a 1:1 comparison, because I'm sure my anchor was larger, but I saw somebody with a Spade anchor bail out of there after trying 3 or 4 spots and failing to get a good set, I presume because of the weedy bottom. But also to be fair, I think the tip weight percentage of the Spade is so much higher than the Excel's that a 55lb Spade has the same tip weight as my 110lb Excel.

The galvanizing has not impressed me that much. There seems to be a different type of galvanizing on the fluke vs the shank. After the first night anchored, the fluke showed sort of an etched crystalline structure pattern in the galvanizing, whereas the shank's galvanizing looked the same solid grey as when it arrived. But the coating on the shank has been chipping off pretty aggressively. The fluke is just fine, aside from a swipe that looks like maybe a rock dragged against it for a few inches. I'm not too concerned, another big plus to me was that this is a solid steel anchor with no lead that would make it difficult to re-galvanize. But I think it's worth mentioning.

Overall, I haven't really stress tested this anchor. All the places I anchored had pretty good mud bottoms and I didn't experience very strong winds, but I've been happy with the setting and breaking characteristics, as well as it's ability to handle wind direction changes.

I think, based on Steve Goodwin's testing so far, the only anchor I'd choose over this one might be an Excel #11 (121lbs) or an Ultra, but they only come in 100lb and then 132lb sizes, as well as being over twice the cost of the Excel.
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Old 27-08-2021, 22:34   #2
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Re: Some thoughts on my Sarca Excel #9

I have the SARCA Excel No 6 and so far it has worked well in most anchorages, had 40-50 knots when anchored in sand and 30-40 knots in sandy / weed and it just sets and digs in. Had at least 4:1 out all chain.

However in very heavy, solid weed in just skates over the top and cannot dig in. I’m heading south in October along the southern Australian coast, which is notorious for having bays which a solid weed and no sand patches. Everyone recommends you need a specialist weed anchor along southern Australia; either a admiralty / stock anchor, or a stockless anchor like the Marsh.

I picked up some local Esperance knowledge of having an admiralty anchor ready to attach in tandum with 5M of chain to the front of your main anchor. That way you can still use the existing windlass and main anchor, then hoist up the admiralty and 5M of chain by hand when you are leaving. Will try it out and see if that works.

I have also downloaded high resolution satelite images of the anchor spots to try and spot where the sand patches are. Unfortunately these show lots of anchorages which are solid wall to wall weed.

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Old 28-08-2021, 06:44   #3
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Re: Some thoughts on my Sarca Excel #9

I've given some thought to weed bottoms, especially since it's a condition that is probably very difficult to test repeatedly, even for someone like Steve. I think that tip weight is very important for cutting through various kelp style weeds and grass, but after that, the ability to stay engaged during a veer/wind shift is also critical. The latter, I suspect is very influenced by overall weight (assuming a given anchor design).

In regards to tip weight, going by Steve's observations, the Excel has ~20% tip weight, while the Spade has ~40%. I think the highest is the Mantus M1 at ~50%. Despite my observation of a neighbor with a Spade not having any success in a weedy bottom, I think the Spade should have better performance than the Excel for a given weight, with it's higher tip weight, and strong veer engagement.
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Old 28-08-2021, 16:39   #4
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Re: Some thoughts on my Sarca Excel #9

Not many replies for an anchor threat.
I have the same anchor #9 as the first poster, and have a similar sized boat, and displacement.
I must say I don't anchor much lately, but when I do, never an issue, even on a weed bottom. I don't think I anchored over weed in very strong winds, ie >40 knots.
The only comparing I can do is on one occasion: anchored in a cove to let a stormfront go past. Winds were shifting and my 40 kg concave rollbar anchor slowly dragged with each windshsift, I changed to the Excel, and ..... did not move an inch during the night. Winds were up to 45 knots steady and 60 knots in gusts and shifting more than 90 degrees between the surrounding hills, each 10 minutes or so.
Since that night, Excel is my primary anchor, never used the other anchor since.
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Old 28-08-2021, 17:15   #5
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Re: Some thoughts on my Sarca Excel #9

I think someone else mentioned that it seems like the anchor debates have slowed down a lot since Steve's testing has really ramped up and started showing some really strong data. Obviously, there's a lot more to learn, and his seabed options are pretty limited, but it's pretty convincing stuff nonetheless.

It's no secret that larger/heavier anchors set and hold better in all sea beds, on a general scale. But I think this effect is greatly exaggerated on rocky bottoms and thick weed bottoms.
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Old 29-08-2021, 09:04   #6
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Re: Some thoughts on my Sarca Excel #9

Quote:
Originally Posted by Muaddib1116 View Post
I've just finished a 6 week trip to Maine, although only 4 weeks of it were really spent cruising. I don't have a ton of experience with other anchors, so I won't say anything definitive about it in comparison to other designs, but I thought I'd give my thoughts on it sort of independently.

In regards to the size, my thoughts when choosing it were to get the largest anchor that my boat could handle, and so far it seems I was successful. My windlass has had no problems raising it, as long as it's broken from the mud with my engine, even from 45ish feet. I wonder if I could have gone with the 121lb #11. Speaking of breaking the anchor free, I've had no issue with that either. Once I get the chain vertical and secured with the chain lock, I just idle forward and it comes right out.

I didn't have any night that I would consider a strenuous test of the #9's holding ability, the strongest winds I saw were one night in Pulpit Harbor in the low 20's and a couple nights in Hadlock Cove that got to the low/mid 20's. I had about 5:1 scope and didn't drag at all. I had no real problems getting a good set. In a couple places, if I backed down around 1800 rpm at 3:1 I could get it to drag steadily, but at 4:1 it always held during my back downs.

A big reason I chose the Excel was the solid shank and welded one piece construction. This reduces it's tip weight percent, but I didn't see any issues with that. In Hadlock Cove, which has a weedy enough bottom that the chain came up perfectly clean and the anchor came up with a hug bundle of kelp on it, I had no problem setting the anchor or with the gradual 180 degree wind shifts over the course of the two nights I was there. Navionics showed I moved in a pretty perfect circle around a single spot. It's not a 1:1 comparison, because I'm sure my anchor was larger, but I saw somebody with a Spade anchor bail out of there after trying 3 or 4 spots and failing to get a good set, I presume because of the weedy bottom. But also to be fair, I think the tip weight percentage of the Spade is so much higher than the Excel's that a 55lb Spade has the same tip weight as my 110lb Excel.

The galvanizing has not impressed me that much. There seems to be a different type of galvanizing on the fluke vs the shank. After the first night anchored, the fluke showed sort of an etched crystalline structure pattern in the galvanizing, whereas the shank's galvanizing looked the same solid grey as when it arrived. But the coating on the shank has been chipping off pretty aggressively. The fluke is just fine, aside from a swipe that looks like maybe a rock dragged against it for a few inches. I'm not too concerned, another big plus to me was that this is a solid steel anchor with no lead that would make it difficult to re-galvanize. But I think it's worth mentioning.

Overall, I haven't really stress tested this anchor. All the places I anchored had pretty good mud bottoms and I didn't experience very strong winds, but I've been happy with the setting and breaking characteristics, as well as it's ability to handle wind direction changes.

I think, based on Steve Goodwin's testing so far, the only anchor I'd choose over this one might be an Excel #11 (121lbs) or an Ultra, but they only come in 100lb and then 132lb sizes, as well as being over twice the cost of the Excel.
Thanks for your comments Mauddib. Regarding the galvanizing First itís worth noting that the shank alloy is bisalloy, a high strength steel (80,000 lb tensile ) so it does take on a slightly different appearance after galvanizing. The galvanizing is done on the entire anchor at one time and itís double hot dipped. Another thing is that thereís a general rule that stronger steel alloys donít bind the zinc quite as well as mild steel. The final point Iíd like to make is if a galvanized steel, and this is especially true of corners or edges, is banged or ground against a steel surface, such as a steel roller, bale or other part of a bow mechanism, the steel will win over the zinc every time. Iíve seen several cases where this happens. I personally changed out my steel roller for a delrin one and raised my bow roller bale height and eliminated the problem on my boat entirely.
Best regards
Nick
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Old 29-08-2021, 09:30   #7
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Re: Some thoughts on my Sarca Excel #9

Thanks for sharing your experience. Our boats are about the same size, windage and displacement and I overruled groundtackle.com's strong recommendation for the #7 to get the #8 and after using it for 2 years I now understand why they tried to talk me out of oversizing my anchor.


As a full time cruiser who lives on the hook and rarely spends a night at a dock, I depend upon my primary bower to be able to sleep well at night and I agree with the cruiser's philosophy to make your primary bower your storm anchor. For my boat the #6 would do just fine, the #7 even better, and the #8 is overkill, but hey, I'm the king of overkill, so to me that's a good thing.


My anchor sets reliably and fast the first time every time (so far) and holds like the dickens. There are times I struggle to break it free from the bottom, a good problem to have. It sets and resets in the same spot, I've never seen it move much from where I initially drop.


The one drawback of having an oversized Excel, in my opinion, is that it doesn't seem to bury easily. I don't believe backing down to set buries it more than halfway. If the wind is strong and sustained enough and I'm anchored in the same location long enough it will eventually get buried (or in soupy mud). This is speculation based upon what happens when I raise it as I've never actually seen my anchor on the bottom.



The consequence of the shank not getting buried is that with wind and tidal shifts the chain can travel under the shank in a bight and potentially foul. There are many times that my swing distance from the anchor is 50% or so of the amount of rode I have out (allowing for enough wind to break the chain from the bottom). There are some times that this situation seemed to resolve itself and I assume the fouled chain under the shank broke the anchor out enough to straighten and reset. Given the reliable resetting behavior of this anchor that wouldn't surprise me.



A couple of times I raised anchor to find the chain has wrapped around the anchor enough times to create a ball of chain and anchor that stayed intact while raising it and was a challenged to undo. (I assume one or two wraps would undo themselves on the way up). Other times (5 or so) the two bow shackles were stuck offset as if being raised backwards.



However, at no time has the anchor dragged or failed in any way (yet) but AAC (great resource) has reported and is collecting information about the tendency of the fluke to foul the chain as the Excel doesn't seem to bury itself deep enough for the chain to pass over the anchor upon resetting and the angle of the tip of the fluke would easily catch the chain (unlike the delta or CQR which have rounded fluke tops).


I'm a bit of an anchor nerd and have tried many anchors over the past 35 years or so on many boats, and the Rocna changed my life when it first came out. Two years ago I replaced my Rocna Vulcan with the Excel and don't regret it at all and have complete confidence in my anchor, but all things, like people, have their quirks and are not perfect.


I'd be interested in hearing the experiences of other Excel owners about all this.
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Old 29-08-2021, 09:39   #8
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Re: Some thoughts on my Sarca Excel #9

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Originally Posted by ilenart View Post
I have the SARCA Excel No 6 and so far it has worked well in most anchorages, had 40-50 knots when anchored in sand and 30-40 knots in sandy / weed and it just sets and digs in. Had at least 4:1 out all chain.

However in very heavy, solid weed in just skates over the top and cannot dig in. Iím heading south in October along the southern Australian coast, which is notorious for having bays which a solid weed and no sand patches. Everyone recommends you need a specialist weed anchor along southern Australia; either a admiralty / stock anchor, or a stockless anchor like the Marsh.
Behaviour in thick weed is a very important characteristic when considering anchor performance. It is unfortunately a common substrate.

The Marsh anchor is very popular in South Australia, but with its very small fluke area it is only good for thick weed, and then only if the underlying substrate is quite hard. If you have plans for cruising further afield an anchor that has good weed performance, but is more versatile, is worth considering. It is always difficult to know exactly what substrate exists at an unknown anchorage.

I have found my Mantus M1 has excellent performance in thick weed. Part of this is that it is oversized, which is a help cut through the weed roots, but the high tip weight and long thin tapered fluke also play a significant role.
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Old 29-08-2021, 09:42   #9
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Re: Some thoughts on my Sarca Excel #9

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Originally Posted by SV__Grace View Post
Thanks for sharing your experience. Our boats are about the same size, windage and displacement and I overruled groundtackle.com's strong recommendation for the #7 to get the #8 and after using it for 2 years I now understand why they tried to talk me out of oversizing my anchor.


As a full time cruiser who lives on the hook and rarely spends a night at a dock, I depend upon my primary bower to be able to sleep well at night and I agree with the cruiser's philosophy to make your primary bower your storm anchor. For my boat the #6 would do just fine, the #7 even better, and the #8 is overkill, but hey, I'm the king of overkill, so to me that's a good thing.


My anchor sets reliably and fast the first time every time (so far) and holds like the dickens. There are times I struggle to break it free from the bottom, a good problem to have. It sets and resets in the same spot, I've never seen it move much from where I initially drop.


The one drawback of having an oversized Excel, in my opinion, is that it doesn't seem to bury easily. I don't believe backing down to set buries it more than halfway. If the wind is strong and sustained enough and I'm anchored in the same location long enough it will eventually get buried (or in soupy mud). This is speculation based upon what happens when I raise it as I've never actually seen my anchor on the bottom.



The consequence of the shank not getting buried is that with wind and tidal shifts the chain can travel under the shank in a bight and potentially foul. There are many times that my swing distance from the anchor is 50% or so of the amount of rode I have out (allowing for enough wind to break the chain from the bottom). There are some times that this situation seemed to resolve itself and I assume the fouled chain under the shank broke the anchor out enough to straighten and reset. Given the reliable resetting behavior of this anchor that wouldn't surprise me.



A couple of times I raised anchor to find the chain has wrapped around the anchor enough times to create a ball of chain and anchor that stayed intact while raising it and was a challenged to undo. (I assume one or two wraps would undo themselves on the way up). Other times (5 or so) the two bow shackles were stuck offset as if being raised backwards.



However, at no time has the anchor dragged or failed in any way (yet) but AAC (great resource) has reported and is collecting information about the tendency of the fluke to foul the chain as the Excel doesn't seem to bury itself deep enough for the chain to pass over the anchor upon resetting and the angle of the tip of the fluke would easily catch the chain (unlike the delta or CQR which have rounded fluke tops).


I'm a bit of an anchor nerd and have tried many anchors over the past 35 years or so on many boats, and the Rocna changed my life when it first came out. Two years ago I replaced my Rocna Vulcan with the Excel and don't regret it at all and have complete confidence in my anchor, but all things, like people, have their quirks and are not perfect.


I'd be interested in hearing the experiences of other Excel owners about all this.


Wow, 90 lb anchor for 43 feet??!!
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Old 29-08-2021, 09:43   #10
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Re: Some thoughts on my Sarca Excel #9

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Not many replies for an anchor threat.

I have the same anchor #9 as the first poster, and have a similar sized boat, and displacement.

I must say I don't anchor much lately, but when I do, never an issue, even on a weed bottom. I don't think I anchored over weed in very strong winds, ie >40 knots.

The only comparing I can do is on one occasion: anchored in a cove to let a stormfront go past. Winds were shifting and my 40 kg concave rollbar anchor slowly dragged with each windshsift, I changed to the Excel, and ..... did not move an inch during the night. Winds were up to 45 knots steady and 60 knots in gusts and shifting more than 90 degrees between the surrounding hills, each 10 minutes or so.

Since that night, Excel is my primary anchor, never used the other anchor since.


Can you share which rollbar anchor referenced above? I am guessing Manson or Rocna.
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Old 29-08-2021, 10:00   #11
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Re: Some thoughts on my Sarca Excel #9

I've been using a #5 since 2016. The only place it dragged was a corner of Montague Harbour where it is very light silt and it didn't actually drag until we started to pull it up.
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Old 29-08-2021, 10:10   #12
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Re: Some thoughts on my Sarca Excel #9

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Wow, 90 lb anchor for 43 feet??!!

The Nauticat 43 is 47 LOA including bowsprit and with my dinghy on davits I'm 50 feet.

I'm 20 tons fully loaded. My understanding of your sleek Tartan 40 (great boat) is that it is @9 tons.

And being a high freeboard pilothouse ketch my windage is too far forward and my boat hunts and swings at anchor way too much, so I usually use the mizzen as a riding sail for comfort and to take the strain of yawing off the anchor as much as possible. I love my boat but I'm sometimes jealous of the well behaved sloops with low freeboard like yours that weathercock nicely at anchor.

As I mentioned, I intentionally oversized my anchor for my primary bower to also be my storm anchor. Every skipper needs to use their own judgment for their unique combination of boat, geography, type/style of cruising, weather patterns, etc. If my boat were a dock queen who anchored 3 weekends a year during the summer the Excel #6 would be fine.
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Old 29-08-2021, 10:37   #13
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Re: Some thoughts on my Sarca Excel #9

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Thanks for your comments Mauddib. Regarding the galvanizing First itís worth noting that the shank alloy is bisalloy, a high strength steel (80,000 lb tensile ) so it does take on a slightly different appearance after galvanizing. The galvanizing is done on the entire anchor at one time and itís double hot dipped. Another thing is that thereís a general rule that stronger steel alloys donít bind the zinc quite as well as mild steel. The final point Iíd like to make is if a galvanized steel, and this is especially true of corners or edges, is banged or ground against a steel surface, such as a steel roller, bale or other part of a bow mechanism, the steel will win over the zinc every time. Iíve seen several cases where this happens. I personally changed out my steel roller for a delrin one and raised my bow roller bale height and eliminated the problem on my boat entirely.
Best regards
Nick
Hi Nick, thanks for the detail. I suspected it had something to do with the different shank alloy. As I've mentioned before, the one piece all steel design was a big reason I chose the Excel, especially in how it eases my mind about corrosion and future re-galvanization. In comparison the Spade's hollow shank and convoluted fluke surfaces, not to mention the lead ballast, it was very appealing to have generous dimensions of solid steel. The performance advantage of the Spade would have to be much much larger than it (apparently) is for me to choose that anchor over the Excel.
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Old 29-08-2021, 10:42   #14
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Re: Some thoughts on my Sarca Excel #9

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Originally Posted by SV__Grace View Post
Thanks for sharing your experience. Our boats are about the same size, windage and displacement and I overruled groundtackle.com's strong recommendation for the #7 to get the #8 and after using it for 2 years I now understand why they tried to talk me out of oversizing my anchor.


As a full time cruiser who lives on the hook and rarely spends a night at a dock, I depend upon my primary bower to be able to sleep well at night and I agree with the cruiser's philosophy to make your primary bower your storm anchor. For my boat the #6 would do just fine, the #7 even better, and the #8 is overkill, but hey, I'm the king of overkill, so to me that's a good thing.


My anchor sets reliably and fast the first time every time (so far) and holds like the dickens. There are times I struggle to break it free from the bottom, a good problem to have. It sets and resets in the same spot, I've never seen it move much from where I initially drop.


The one drawback of having an oversized Excel, in my opinion, is that it doesn't seem to bury easily. I don't believe backing down to set buries it more than halfway. If the wind is strong and sustained enough and I'm anchored in the same location long enough it will eventually get buried (or in soupy mud). This is speculation based upon what happens when I raise it as I've never actually seen my anchor on the bottom.



The consequence of the shank not getting buried is that with wind and tidal shifts the chain can travel under the shank in a bight and potentially foul. There are many times that my swing distance from the anchor is 50% or so of the amount of rode I have out (allowing for enough wind to break the chain from the bottom). There are some times that this situation seemed to resolve itself and I assume the fouled chain under the shank broke the anchor out enough to straighten and reset. Given the reliable resetting behavior of this anchor that wouldn't surprise me.



A couple of times I raised anchor to find the chain has wrapped around the anchor enough times to create a ball of chain and anchor that stayed intact while raising it and was a challenged to undo. (I assume one or two wraps would undo themselves on the way up). Other times (5 or so) the two bow shackles were stuck offset as if being raised backwards.



However, at no time has the anchor dragged or failed in any way (yet) but AAC (great resource) has reported and is collecting information about the tendency of the fluke to foul the chain as the Excel doesn't seem to bury itself deep enough for the chain to pass over the anchor upon resetting and the angle of the tip of the fluke would easily catch the chain (unlike the delta or CQR which have rounded fluke tops).


I'm a bit of an anchor nerd and have tried many anchors over the past 35 years or so on many boats, and the Rocna changed my life when it first came out. Two years ago I replaced my Rocna Vulcan with the Excel and don't regret it at all and have complete confidence in my anchor, but all things, like people, have their quirks and are not perfect.


I'd be interested in hearing the experiences of other Excel owners about all this.
I have far less experience with my Excel (and anchoring in general) than you with yours, but I have yet to experience this. I do feel like I had a number of nights where I was swinging around in many directions, but they were either very light wind where I was probably just held in place by a pile of my chain or strong enough winds where the chain was kept straight enough to not wrap around the anchor.

I do wonder about the reason though. It seems like in Steve's Excel videos that the Excel dives pretty well, certainly not much worse than most other high performing anchors he's testing. Are you using a large swivel with yours that may be preventing the shank from burying?
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Old 29-08-2021, 10:58   #15
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Re: Some thoughts on my Sarca Excel #9

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I do wonder about the reason though. It seems like in Steve's Excel videos that the Excel dives pretty well, certainly not much worse than most other high performing anchors he's testing. Are you using a large swivel with yours that may be preventing the shank from burying?
No swivel, just two bow shackles. I think one consequence of an anchor over-sized for the boat is not enough power to bury it during initial set.
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