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6 Different Types of Boat Anchors

An illustration of anchor at the bottom of the sea.

Just as cars have handbrakes and footbrake to hold them when needed, boats have anchors to perform the same function.  Anchors are let down of the boat to sink into the waters, dig and stop the boat from drifting.

There are several types of anchors available out there and they all perform the same type of functions but some may be best for specific types of boats while others aren’t. In this article, we will take a look at these types of boat anchors so you may know which one is best for your boat.

What is a boat anchor?

An anchor is a device made from metal, its function is to secure a boat in the water and prevent it from drifting due to wind or current. 

Boat anchors work by penetrating the surface of the seabed using suction, dragging, and material from the bottom over the anchor. The added weight is what makes the anchor grapple into place, and dig deeper, creating resistance. Without an anchor, a boat would definitely move around, collide with other boats, and even get stuck in shallow areas.

How to choose the right anchor for your boat

A photo of ship wheel and anchors on a white background.

Below we have listed some quick tips that will help you choose the right anchor for your boat:

Select the right size

When choosing an anchor for your boat, you need to consider the size of your boat. If your boat is large, then you need to consider buying a larger anchor so that it can perform its function properly when in use.

Go for the right weight 

Also, make sure you choose the right weight as this will optimize its holding power when the boat is in the waters. For example, an anchor weighing about 8 pounds will hold a weight up to 2000 pounds. Therefore, if your boat weighs more, consider buying an anchor with the right weight as well.

Consider the water and weather conditions of the place your boat travels to

Front view photo of boat at the see during winter climate.

When choosing an anchor, make sure you know the weather and water current conditions you always face when traveling on your boat. You need to go for the type of anchor that can withstand different water and weather conditions without any difficulty.

If the weather conditions are bad, you will need a stronger anchor, if the water current is not stable, a stronger anchor is the best solution too.

Consider using two anchors with different styles

This may sound rather confusing but it’s actually the most effective anchoring security. Using two anchors with different styles is effective and will keep your boat safe while in the waters.  The type of sea bottoms your boat travels at will tell the type of anchor you need to use.

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And at times it will be best to use an anchor on the stern and another on the bow. It’s very effective and will keep your boat safe no matter the weather conditions.

Consider the Bottom type for where your boat will be traveling

A beautiful scenery of boat sailing in the morning on a blue ocean.

When you are unfamiliar with the body of water or its bottom where the boat will be traveling, the best thing to do is take more than one anchor with you.

The bottom types of where boats travel include mud, which requires a deeper and wider setting for a stronghold, sand, which has a high hold and is easy for setting, rock, which depends on where you drop your anchor and not the type, and clay, which depends on the weight of the anchor than its design.

Now that you have some tips for choosing the best anchor for your boat, we can now move forward and take a look at the types of anchors available for you to choose from. Hopefully, by the end of reading this article, you will have a full understanding and know all there is to learn about boat anchors.

Different types of boat anchors

Below we will discuss the different types of anchors, such as the delta, fluke grapnel, plow, etc. We will take a look at how they work to keep your boat safe in the waters.

1. Fluke Anchors

Close up photo of fluke anchor with a white background.

Also known as Danforth anchors or lightweight anchors, these are the most common types of anchors used by individuals who own boats. Fluke anchors are best known for having strong holding functions as they are made from very strong steel. Their design will definitely allow you to keep your boat firmly in place.

When this type of anchor is thrown in the water, it digs into the bottom and pulls the boat itself in order to keep it in place. This is a great function and it guarantees safety no matter the weather conditions.

However, fluke anchors are mostly suitable for smaller types of boats, this is because their design is lightweight and easy to handle.  The design of the anchor stows flat, this makes it very easy to store in the boat. Hence if you have a small-sized boat, you do not have to worry about storage issues.

Having a proper place to store your anchor when not in use is very important, and this goes for all types of anchors, whether big or small. Boat anchors are mostly sharp and heavy, if you accidentally kick them, it may lead to pain and sometimes serious injury.

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Anchors can also slide around when the boat is in motion, hence they may get lost or cause even more serious injuries.

If your boat is small in size, then this is definitely the go-to type of anchor. However, before deciding to finally buy it, you need to know the length of your particular boat. This type of anchor weight ranges from 4 pounds to 44 pounds, and most boat sizes are compatible with the fluke anchor.

If your boat is bigger and heavier, then we suggest looking at the other types of anchors we have listed below. Focus on the heavier options.

2. Plow Anchors

Close up shot of plow anchor on a white background.

Plow anchors are also very common, the name “plow” comes in because the design of the anchor looks like a large shovel or scoop. Originally, these types of anchors were known as CQR, nowadays they are called wig anchors mostly.

These types of anchors are known to have strong holding power in most types of water bottom conditions, they are said to have a very strong holding than the fluke anchors.

Because of their strong holding capabilities, plow anchors are commonly suitable for larger boats. They can withstand most weather conditions and they re-set easily. Because of their sizes, these types of anchors are a bit difficult to store.

However, there are chocks you can use to mount the deck. They will also fit very well on bowsprit anchor rollers. 

Most boat owners prefer having both fluke and plow anchors as this helps meet any anchoring conditions. Plow anchors perform their functions by simply plowing themselves into the bottom and burying themselves to create a stronghold.

Plow Anchors are designed to swivel so that if there’s any change in the pull, they will not lift off the ground no matter what. This is not the case with the fluke anchors as they are not designed to swivel.

Just like the fluke anchors, choosing the best plow anchor will depend on the length of your boat too. Plow anchors weigh between 26 to 60 pounds, meaning they are heavier than the fluke anchors and more suitable for bigger boats. But their heaviness makes them difficult to handle but still offers a strong holding power, which is an advantage.

3. Grapnel Anchors

A photo of two old rusty grapnel anchor on a white background.

Grapnel anchors are also well known, these types of anchors can either be fixed or folded. However, they cannot swivel, they simply use their weight to set and hold just like the plow anchor. These anchors are usually used on small boats but they can as well hold bigger boats like the plow anchor.

Grapnel anchors hold up in more bottom types than fluke anchors, they do not hold well as plow anchors. They are also very heavy, making them difficult to handle and store. However, the folding style is a bit manageable.

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On the brighter side, grapnel anchors have some lighter options, this makes them suitable for smaller boats too. Their weight ranges from 13 to 66 pounds. If your boat is heavier for its length, or if it travels in volatile conditions, we suggest you look for heavier options as they will be more suitable for your large boat.

4. Claw Anchors

Side view look of a claw anchor on a white background.

These types of anchors are also very common and loved by many, this is because they are easy to use and suitable for most types of bottoms. 

The claw anchor has a wide three-claw design known as the Bruce anchor. They are a bit difficult to set and hold hence if your boat is heavier, you may need to consider other types of anchors on this list.

The claw anchors are said to be a bit difficult to stow, but storing them will not be an issue as they fit well on a bowsprit anchor roller.

The advantage of these types of anchors is that they are affordable and you will not need to break your budget to have one.

Claw anchors’ weight ranges from 6 pounds to a huge industrial size. Because these are the types that come in a range of sizes suitable for most boats. These anchors have different holding powers; hence you will need to be careful when choosing one for your boat. Heavier options are usually best for most boats.

5. Scoop Anchors

Side view shot of scoop anchor on a white background.

The scoop anchors are another well-known type of anchor, they are a modern design and are becoming very popular because they work in many types of bottoms and have strong holding power. They are also set very well, meaning users can opt for lighter weight if they want.

On the downside, scoop anchors are a bit difficult to store and manage on the deck. The original version of the scoop anchors did not fit well on the bowsprit anchor roller due to the fact that they had roll bars to assist them set and re-set better. Modern versions do not have this problem.

Scoop anchors’ weight ranges from 6 pounds to large sizes.

The holding power of these anchors depends on the weight of the boast, hence if your boat is on the heavier side, opt for heavier sizes to hold your boat perfectly.

6. Box Anchors

Full view look of box anchor on a white background.

These types of anchors are able to set immediately into the sea or lake bottom, they do not need additional power from the boat itself. This feature makes the box anchors to be preferred by many boat owners.

These types of anchors are suitable for boats with maximum lengths of up to 70 feet. The advantages of these types of anchors are that they are set into any kind of condition at the bottom of the lake or sea, they can reset themselves if there are any weather changes, and they fold flat in storage.