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Anchors work in several ways. Some dig into the seabed, some silt in, and others are heavy enough to simply sit on the seabed. Some anchors hold extremely well in sand or mud, others fare better in shale or rocky bottoms. Some anchors never touch the seabed while others are permanently embedded.

Anchor selection should be based on the size and type of your boat and the condition of the bottom where you do most of your boating.

Anchors can be broken down into three general families; the lunch hook, the working anchor and the storm anchor. A lunch hook is an exceptionally light anchor that is set for short daytime stops when crew stays aboard. The working anchor is used for standard overnight anchoring. I feel cruising boats should carry two working anchors, one for hard bottoms and one for soft bottoms. A storm anchor is used in heavy weather and can be of any type, as long as it is very heavy. A primary anchor can be set along with a storm anchor on a separate rode if conditions warrant.

Anchors can be further categorized into burying and nonburying types. Nonburying anchors, such as the kedge or fisherman, work by hooking onto rock or thick grass and weeds, and must rehook if the boat swings. Burying anchors, such as the CQR, lightweight (Danforth, Fortress), Bruce and Delta, dig deep into soft bottoms and are designed to hold if the boat changes position. They are usually lighter than nonburying anchors because they dig into the seabed.

Here is a picture of the most common anchors.

Stock or no stock
Some anchors have a stock to orient the flukes so the anchor will dig in properly.

The stock also can keep the anchor from breaking free without resetting if the boat changes position. A fisherman anchor has narrow flukes, a long shank and a stock crossing the shank perpendicular to the flukes. I don. t recommend them as a working anchor because they must be heavy to be effective (around 60 pounds) and usually must be taken apart to stow, but they can be used as a storm anchor.
Lightweight anchors, such as the Fortress or Danforth, have a stock at the bottom of the anchor for easier stowage and collapsible stock anchors allow the stock to be folded parallel to the shank.

Stockless anchors were developed to allow the hook to be stowed in a hawsepipe or bow roller. These popular anchors include the Bruce, CQR and Delta.

Plow anchors
The plow (or CQR) anchor is a burying anchor that has a hinged shank to keep it from breaking out if the boat swings to one side. I would use the plow as a primary working anchor. It holds well under large loads and in most bottoms, although it can be difficult to set in grass or weeds. It can be stored on the bow. The Delta is similar to a CQR, but its shank is one piece. It also holds well in most bottoms, other than large rocks and weeds, and can be stored on the bow.

Lightweight anchors
The lightweight anchor, such as the Danforth or Fortress, is a burying anchor with wide sharp flukes and a stock. It holds very well under high loads in mud and sand but may be difficult to set in clay, grass, weeds, rock or shell bottoms. I recommend a lightweight as a secondary working anchor or a lunch hook. It requires more scope than other anchors and can be stored flat on deck.

Bruce anchors
The Bruce is a clawlike burying anchor that sets quickly and resists breaking out without resetting if the wind or tide changes. I would use a Bruce in crowded anchorages since it holds well at short scope and in most bottoms, including sand, grass and rock. It sometimes grabs loose rock and fails to set and can drag under very high loads. It can be stored on the bow.

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