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Choosing an anchor

I have recently been researching the issue of what anchor to choose.

In the course of my web searches I came across The UK Divers.NET site and the West Marine Sand Anchor Test by Chuck Hawley and Tony Gasparich(1994).  Although that is a pretty old link it still gives a lot of interesting insights into the manufacture and design of anchors.


When I bought Enterprise she came with a 22lb Danforth type anchor that is stowed in the anchor locker. Although this is neat and tidy in most circumstances it is quite tricky to lift it out of the locker on a pitching foredeck, without drawing blood . Because it is hinged and the flukes are so large it is impossible to stow it on the bow roller without it taking a chunk out of the hull. Hence, the search for something more suitable.

After much searching of the web and various blog opinions I felt that the choice for my 32ft boat would lie between the old favourite the CQR and the newer Delta – both from Lewmar. Although the Rocna anchor and web site is very impressive.


CQR Delta

Clyde Quick Release Plough (CQR)

So named due to its resemblance to a traditional agricultural plough (or more specifically two ploughshares), many manufacturers produce a plough-style design, all based on or direct copies of the original CQR (Secure), a 1933 design by mathematician Geoffrey Ingram Taylor.

Owing to a now well established history, ploughs are particularly popular with cruising sailors and other private boaters. They are generally good in all bottoms, but not exceptional in any. The CQR design has a hinged shank, allowing the anchor to turn with direction changes rather than breaking out, and also arranged to force the point of the plough into the bottom if the anchor lands on its side.

Another more recent commercial design, the Delta uses an unhinged shank and a plough with specific angles to develop slightly superior performance. Both can be stored in most regular anchor roller systems.

Owing to the use of lead or other dedicated tip-weight, the plough is heavier than average for the amount of resistance developed, and may take a slightly longer pull to set thoroughly.

The genuine CQR and Delta brands are now owned by Lewmar, although they have both been on-sold several times during their lifetimes.


The Delta was developed in the 1980's for commercialisation by British marine manufacturer Simpson-Lawrence. The Delta is a fixed shank plow, as opposed to the articulating variant of the plow concept (i.e. the CQR) of decades earlier. The need for articulation was avoided with more careful balancing of the anchor's weight and shaping of the rear end of the fluke in order to better guide the fluke through the setting process. The basic shape nonetheless remains a plow, with a brake-pressed plate heel and solid steel cast tip (welded together to form the only joint attaching the tip to the rest of the anchor) which comprises the fluke. Like other plows, this design relies on tip-weight for ballast and setting, an inefficiency which detracts from fluke surface area and ultimate holding power.

The genuine Delta brand is now owned by Lewmar. The anchor has been out of patent for a few years now, and poor copies abound, most of worse performance and questionable construction quality.

The Delta utilizes a high tensile steel shank, an element which is typically the first to be sacrificed in the pursuit of cost savings by knock-off producers.


From all the reading I think the Rocna is probably the best. The New Zealand designed Rocna has been produced since 2004. It too features a sharp toe like the Bügel for penetrating weed and grass, sets quickly, and has a particularly large fluke area. Its roll-bar is also similar to that of the Bügel. The Rocna obtained the highest averaged holding power in SAIL magazine's comparison testing in 2006.



RhodeIn the end I chose the Delta from Lewmar. If I had a bigger boat say 40ft upwards, I would have chosen the Rocna.

It is actually quite large and difficult to mount permanently on the bow roller since it is rigid unlike the CQR which has a hinged head. Also if you drill the anchor in order to fasten it to the bow roller you invalidate the 5 year guarantee. Anyway it does look the business and all the technical assessments appear positive – and its is from Lewmar – who should know about these things :-).

Now all that remain is to try it out – which I plan to do when we sail to Alderney on Sept 14th.


9 comments to Choosing an anchor

  • wackyracer

    Did you see the article in the Dec 2006 issue of Yachting Monthly?

    This showed the best performing anchors as the Fortress, Spade, and Rocna – the Delta that you have chosen was middle of the field and the big surprsie was that the evergreen CQR was shown to be useless !

  • jonjo

    That seemed to be a very well researched article – also there was no correlation between money and effectiveness – see poor performance of the Bugel at £586 for example

  • Russ

    Yes I liked the thoroughness of the tests.
    1. Tests performed using a 5:1 and a 3:1 scope
    2. 20ft of 5/16in chain plus 12 strand one inch nylon cable
    3. Veering tests were also carried out
    The tests were carried out off Santa Cruz harbour, California.
    The load forces on an anchor cable in storm force winds on a 35ft yacht equate to about 1,800lb but that is without wave actions being taken into account.
    Alan Fraysse has a spreadsheet at http://alain.fraysse.free.fr/sail/rode/rode.htm
    that shows that a 35ft yacht in a 60knot wind will experience maximum dynamic loadings of 5,940lb. Waves and snubbing forces could increase this figure by 10 times.

  • The Delta is an excellent anchor. “Middle of the field” in the Yachting Monthly test is unfair and not really correct; when the anchors are ranked in terms of averaged holding power across all tests as reported more accurately by SAIL magazine, the Delta in fact came third behind only the Spade and Rocna. See the graph on our website under “demonstrations & testing”.

    To clarify, this testing was conducted by West Marine and written up in both SAIL and Yachting Monthly. The two magazines have different articles. Both are available from our website (see “independent reviews”).

    To be fair to the Buegel with regard to price, the WASI tested was stainless steel. Clearly stainless is more expensive than galvanized steel.

    Having said that, one should not expect a correlation between money and effectiveness. The cost of an anchor is in its build quality, not performance. It would be possible to build an anchor which would perform very well in a test and be very cheap – but it would be a rubbish product.

  • Hi Craig, nice to hear from the manufacturers of the Rocna

    I had a look at your website and the excellent video – very interesting.

    I went to the London boat show on Sunday 7th and watched the anchoring demonstration there. They were showing techniques for laying and tripping an anchor both from the bow and the stern using a gantry over a sandpit. I noticed that they used a Bruce anchor for the demo and sure enough at one point the anchor refused to set and in order to move the demo on the commentator had to walk over and physicall set the anchor – much to the amusement of the gathered crowd 😉

  • Once more Craig Rocna is pretending that the Rocna was the first in this test…

    By no way the Rocna was the first in the test.

    Read below the test report written by Jeffrey Moser and Abner Kingman for Powerandmotoryacht magazine (the complete report can be read on: http://powerandmotoryacht.com/gearreview/boat-anchor-test/index5.aspx)

    The comments are as folows:

    the Manson proves the Kiwis know anchors, as it set quickly each time and held to a maximum of 5,332 pounds, releasing and dragging only once.

    the Spade engaged quickly and held to 5,000 pounds in two nonconsecutive pulls, topping out at 5,236 pounds. (it should be noted that the tested Spade was only 2/3 of the surface area of the Rocna)

    Rocna : The anchor tended to drag at first but finally set each time and held once to 5,000 pounds

  • I’ve just replaced my anchor with a 16Kg Manson on my 36ft yacht. Assuming it does not perform so badly that I get swept away never to be seen again, I will report back on my experience at the end of the season.

  • Steve

    Seeing Alain Poiraud’s post above has appalled me. Firstly let’s out that he’s the Spade anchor guy, and rarely has anything nice to say about his competition!

    Secondly the supposed comments from Powerandmotoryacht magazine raise some eyebrows. West Marine themselves have a table in their 2007 catalog about this testing. Their comments on the anchors Alain mentioned read like this:

    Manson: “In six pulls never held less than 2,300lb, and held over 5,000lb three times. Seemed to engage the bottom immediately.”
    (The Manson appears to be a copy of the Rocna incidentally – Rocna don’t seem happy)

    Spade: “Somewhat mixed results with three OK pulls, and three maximum pulls. Set immediately each time.”

    Rocna: “Superb, consistent performance. Held a minimum of 4,500lb and engaged immediately.”

    By the way on the Delta this was their summary: “Variable results ranging from around 1,500lb. to 4,500lb. Drags at limit.”

    Honestly I will trust these as the source. Rock on.

  • Sorry Steve, but you need to update your information..

    Last year, I have sold the Spade company.. I’m not longer working in the anchor field.. then.. I do not have any more competitor..

    As you say: The Manson appears to be a copy of the Rocna

    But WHO COPY WHO ? the Rocna copy:
    – the concave shape of the Spade
    – the ballast-less principle of the Sword anchor
    – the “roll Bar” of the Bügel (already patented by Peter Bruce)
    – the shank of the Delta
    – the fixation of the “roll bar” of the Supreme Manson..

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