Anchoring and Storm Tackle [Updated Feb-2018]

This is part of a series describing some of our common boat systems and their operation.

We refer to these often not only for our own use, but also when asked specific questions about systems on Denali Rose, and when participating in discussions on various forums.

We aren't implying our choices are the best or only way to go; they just happen to be the decisions we made [...or sometimes what came with our boat...]


Denali Rose is 50 ft LOA and displaces 22+ tons cruising weight. We typically frequent deeper anchorages above 56°N. [e.g., We anchor in 50 to 90 ft. of water about 80% of the time, with the remaining 20% spent at anchor in 30-50 ft.]

Note that her anchor roller arrangement on the bowsprit prevents us from using any anchors with a roll bar.

———— Latest revision: 11-Feb-2018 [by Bill] ————

Ground and Storm/Safety tackle inventory on SV Denali Rose

Anchors: We adhere to the philosophy of setting one oversized anchor and sleeping well... 

  • 1- Spade [Model S180 galvanized steel; 45 kg/ 99 lbs; primary bower; rated for vessels up to 75 ft, weighing up to 57,300 lbs [Denali Rose is 50 ft LOA @ 44,000 lbs...]
    • Excellent performance in all bottom types
    • Self stows beautifully on bow sprit
    • Deploys readily from anchor roller on bow sprit
    • 45 lbs of lead in the tip [i.e., 45% of the anchor weight is the tip...]
    • Works well in short scope situations
    • Setting technique is similar to the SuperMAX anchor [described below]
    • Lifetime warranty
    • Post about retrofitting new Spade as best bower
  • 1- Super MAX [Model 20; adjustable; 80 lbs; secondary anchor on bow; rated for 55k lbs displacement vessel in hurricane force winds @ 5,000 lbs holding force]
    • Excellent performance in all bottom types: [Adjustable shank; 3 angles; first set at 3:1 scope, then set again at 5:1 scope for all bottom types.]
      • Sand, hard mud, and coral use a 5:1 scope and the lowest hole adjustment (smallest fluke/shank angle)
      • Mud, use a 5:1 scope and the middle hole adjustment
      • Ooze or very soft mud use a 5:1 scope and the highest hole adjustment (largest fluke/shank angle)
    • In tight anchorages, using an all chain rode, you may move the setting to a more open position and reduce the scope to 4:1
    • In deep anchorages [e.g., 60-90 ft] we strive to maintain 4:1 scope, but sometimes are limited to 3:1 at high water. [Which is still very acceptable and reliable in deep water anchorages. See articles in references section, below.]
    • Setting technique? SuperMAX describes it best.
Spade S180 on left in photo; SuperMax on right 

Spade S180 stows in bow roller without manual intervention [unlike the SuperMax...]
  • 1- CQR [Genuine original; 60 lbs; back-up anchor; mounted on custom chalks amidships on deck.]
    • We rarely set 2 independent anchors. The secondary is there in case we use it instead, or loose use of the primary. 
    • We will also use the CQR rigged in asymmetrical 2 anchor set-up. [Not 2 anchors in series...] 
  • 1- Luke [Fisherman; 100 lbs; stowed disassembled in bilge; storm/rock/extra deep anchoring]
  • 1- Fortress FX27 [Stern anchor; kedge]
  • 1- Fortress FX37 [Stern anchor; kedge; possible secondary bow anchor in all sand or mud bottoms in unidirectional anchoring situations only (e.g., Bahamian moor, etc.]

Windlass: [LightHouse 1501 with 2 chain gypsies (port and starboard) and 1 rope drum]
  • 1000+ lb continuous pull @80A 12VDC; more if amperage is available
  • 2 manual retrieval methods using a standard [or ratcheting] winch handle
    • 10,200 lb manual kedge capability applying 35 lbs force on a 10 in. winch handle
  • Details about windlass refit with annotated installation photos
  • We haveportable electric winch driver as back-up for the windlass [and use on any winch as needed]

Anchor Rode and Tackle: [Also see: How our rodes are marked for depth]
  • Bow: [to windlass]
    • Starboard side [Primary Anchor]: 
      • 360 ft of 5/16 in [8 mm] grade 43 chain spliced to 100 ft of 1 in. 3-strand nylon rode
      • Chain stopper
    • Port side: [Back-up Anchor] 
      • 190 ft of 5/16 in [8 mm] grade 43 chain spliced to 220 ft of 3/4 in. 3-strand nylon rode
      • Chain stopper
    • Future: When our chain is due for replacement [hopefully several years- and several regalvanizings- away...] we may very well switch to G70 chain [heat treated G43...] 
      • The devil is in finding strong enough fasteners to use with it. [Two manufacturers will add oversized links at each end, but they won't heat treat them like the rest of the chain, so they are only as strong as what we have now; G43...]
      • One option is to use connectors from the lifting industry. e.g., Omega-Link. [Grade 80 or 100; Galvanized not yet found as of Jan-2017] 
      • Can G70 be regalvanized without being weakened by the process? 
    • Shackles: We only use forged, load tested shackles
      • We typically use USA made Crosby brand.
      • The SWL of shackles must at least equal the SWL of the Chain 
      • We use 5/16 in [8 mm] grade 43 chain = 3,900 lbs SWL 
        • Note: SWL on G43 chain is 1/3rd breaking strength; 1/4th on G70 chain
      • Here are the Crosby G209A galvanized anchor shackles we use [A 1/2" pin fits 5/16" G43 chain; SWL = 4,000 lbs]
        • I prefer the bolt type of anchor shackles that have a nut and cotter pin [eliminating mousing safety wire through the pin eye...] but they are sometimes more difficult to source, and the pins are not always galvanized
      • Don't use cheap, non-forged shackles unless you want them to be the weak link in your ground tackle...
    • Swivels: None installed; We haven't found the need, and don't have the desire...
  • Spare anchor rodes in mesh anchor bags:
    • 4- 3/8 in BBB chain x 40 ft spliced to 300 ft of 3/4 in three-strand nylon
    • Misc lengths and diameters of nylon 3-strand, and 5/16 in and 3/8 in chain
  • Dinghy:
    • 10lb collapsable grappling hook with 200 ft of 3/8 in nylon 3-strand rode; snatch block for shore retrieval
    • Future: We need better dinghy anchor, perhaps a mini Mantus or small Fortress?
    • 2ft diameter sea anchor/drogue 
      • Also used on boat's primary anchor chain- just below the waterline on the tensioned part of the chain rode- to dampen horsing at anchor in high wind conditions

Shore Lines/Tackle: [AKA shorefasts; We try to avoid using, but some situations warrant...]
  • Reel of heavy duty nylon strap rode mounted on pushpit
  • Line reel for shoreline [holds 600+ ft. 3/8" hi-mod line]
  • 2- 600ft lengths of 3/8" bright colored Spectra line [14,000 lbs tensile] with soft eyes at both ends- stored in bags
    • Shore lines can be cow hitched together at soft eyes to extend length
    • Small, brightly colored fishing floats used to make line more visible when floating on [or hanging above] water when necessary
  • Various lengths of chain 
    • for securing shore fast to rocks/boulders
  • Galvanized cable chokers with eyes at both ends 
    • for securing shore fast to rocks/boulders
      • rocks can sometimes be lassoed from dinghy
  • Heavy nylon vehicle towing or lifting straps with eyes on both ends and tubular webbing
    • for securing to the base of trees to help prevent damaging them
  • Related Resources

Storm Tackle:

Anti-Chafe Gear:
  • Chafe Pro Yacht Series [The best we have used in 30+ years]
  • Oversized firehose [Great stuff, and cheap if you can obtain a small roll... Must be oversized so water and air can enter to help keep a working line cool in spunky conditions.]

Communications while anchoring [How, and what we use...]

Additional Resources:


  1. Hello Bill and Donna,
    Just found your website a few days ago after reading a forum re anchor setups and have enjoy the reads.
    One question I have is about your anchor chain, I see you went with 5/16" G40 for your boat. I have been trying to figure out which size I would use. You have a boat a bit smaller than mine but a ketch, and you are almost 12k more in weight. I'm 47' cutter with 30k light(I'm shooting for 34ish cruise weight), I was thinking 3/8" G40 but if I can do 5/16" that would be lighter and I can carry more. I am either looking at a Maxwell or Ideal vertical windlass but not at that stage yet but it's nice to plan.

    What I'm wondering is how/why did you choose the 5/16"?

    Hope all is well,

    Sv Redemption

  2. Thank you for your compliments, Ronnie. We are glad you found something useful on our blog.

    Regarding our anchor chain choice, it came about through a combination of factors.

    First, when we purchased the boat, it had the original windlass [from 1984...] with a worn-out clutch [no parts, and Hail Mary chain deployments...] Additionally, the 3/8" BBB chain was so rusty I had to clean the deck each time the chain was deployed. [We knew all this in advance of the purchase.... no surprises here...]

    Since the previous owners sat out a few hurricanes in the Caribbean with that ground tackle set-up, we knew it was well proven.

    Fast forward to our acquiring the boat and planning on taking her to higher latitudes [Alaska currently...] where deeper than usual anchorages are the norm. [Our average anchorage is 50-90ft...]

    Since we needed a new windlass, we needed to decide upon chain size.

    Recognizing that the contribution of chain weight to catenary effect decreases with anchoring depth, and that said contribution is mollified in winds stronger than, say 25 kts for our boat [i.e., even 3/8" BBB is almost bar tight in 25 knots of wind in a shallower anchorage] chain weight was not a major factor in the consideration of chain size. [I used to be old school about using heavy chain until I ran the numbers years ago... Chain weight only really counts in fairly shallow anchorages, and we can compensate with a kellet in those circumstances...]

    Since the 3/8" BBB [2,600 lbs WLL] was proven effective by the previous owners, going stronger, lighter chain wouldn't hurt; allowing us to put more chain on board.

    I was able to load a full 550' barrel of 5/16" G43 chain into the split anchor locker.... That resulted in a net gain of ~155 lbs, an additional 250' of chain, and an increase in WLL from 2,600 lbs to 3,900 lbs [Note: Breaking strength is 300% WLL for these non-heat treated chains.]

    This change was well worth it to us for what we needed- and the boat doesn't really care about the bit of extra weight.

    The 3,900 WLL of the 5/16" G43 is matched perfectly by the load tested forged shackles from Crosby. [The 1/2" pin sized shackle fits perfectly through the 5/16" link, and is rated at 4,000 lbs WLL; a perfect match.]

    Since we never anchor without a bridle, and can use our reefed mizzen sail as an anchor riding sail, we are able to effectively eliminate shock and maximum loads to the ground tackle system, preventing the chain from ever even approaching WLL much less Max load... [It is worth noting that anchor chain is proof tested under gradual loading at the factory- not snatch loads...]

    I am also confident that the deck attachment points for our ground tackle system can take the same loads the chain is rated for [e.g., 4-12k lbs]. And, depending upon which source you use for loads a vessel the size of ours can impose on the ground tackle in a storm, the WLL of G43 5/16" chain still exceeds those estimates by an average factor of 2.

    This will more than take care of our needs for the next few years [I expect to re-galvanize/replace chain every 6-10 years or so...]

    Next time around I will explore sourcing G70 5/16" chain just to step it up a notch, but that would require oversized links at both ends so an equal strength forged shackle could be used... [i.e., $pecial order chain...] Since heat treated chain uses a safety factor of 400% (vs. 300% for the above non-heat treated chain) I will have to reassess the deck attachment points as well because there is no point in having a chain that is stronger than its attachment points on the boat... [Always access your weak links...]

    I hope this helps describe our strategy and decisions with regard to our anchor chain.

    For even more depth of discussion I can highly recommend the Attainable Adventure Cruising resource we linked in our reference section, as well as the first book listed. [You won't notice the price of either compared to what you will spend on chain and windlass...]



  3. Hi, loved your blog. One question tho, is the "10,000+ lb" pull on your windlass correct ? I'm interested in your anchoring setups. I have a 64' Alum sloop design weight 25 ton but more like 30 ton loaded. I go with the Dashew theory of as heavy an anchor as you can get AND use. I run 420 feet of 1/2 inch high tensile chain as a believer in the heavy catenary effect but of course snubber as well. I use it to hook a 115 lb Manson and had fun sizing the shackle to link. I'm amazed you can store all that superb anchoring system. I look around my craft and I'm puzzled ...
    My windlass is a Maxwell hydraulic rated at 3500 lb's. in reality it's probably multiples of that as that rating is for the electric version. As an aside I've been advised re-galvanising HT chain can be problematic...

    Best regards, Lawrie

  4. Hi Lawrie,

    Thank you for your complements! It is always good to hear...

    It sounds like you have a marvelous boat.

    I will answer your questions/address your comments in the same order:

    RE: 10,000 lb 'pull' on the windlass; I mentioned that is the manual kedge tension. [It is actually 10,200 lbs using a 2:1 geared winch handle socket on the top of the winch with 35 lbs force on a 10 in winch handle per the manufacturer's website. Click on the 1501 model... It is smartly designed so you have to push down slightly to engage the gearing. This means if you left the winch handle in and ran the windless off it's motor, the winch handle will not spin...]

    For reference, the rated continuous pull is 1000lbs @ 80A 12VDC. It will pull proportionately more than that continuously if the current and voltage are available.

    I concur regarding one large anchor. Our 75 lb Supermax is currently that anchor. The secondary anchor is in place for immediate deployment should something happens to the primary bower. We don't use both at once... I have had to abandon anchors in extreme conditions in times past, and prefer to have one ready to set once relocated. [May that never be needed again...]

    RE: Catenary; my first 20 years I also adhered to that doctrine. Now it has been demonstrated on paper and in practice that the catenary benefit is gone once the wind hits a relatively low velocity [depending upon the boat, chain, depth, etc...]

    I have even had heavy kellets [again, times past] loose their effectiveness in not so inclement conditions...

    Therefore I replaced the 3/8 BBB this boat came with [it was ready...] with 5/16" grade 43 to almost triple the length [and significantly improve the working load...] with a less than proportional weight gain.

    RE: Storing the ground tackle: We are lucky to have a split chain locker [isolated from the rest of the boat] than easily held a barrel of the 5/16" chain. [And each chain has 100ft of 1" 3-strand nylon rode in a break-away mesh bag overhead- keeping it high to avoid collecting anchor locker debris.]

    The CQR that is currently our secondary, was actually moved from some excellent amidship chalks made of Starboard. It will go back there as a back-up [yup, I also lost an anchor once.... but found another years later too...] once we replace it- likely with a 93 lb Rochna Vulcan.

    Our 100 lb [maybe 110 lb?] Luke lives disassembled in a shallow part of the bilge near the stern- along with the disassembled emergency tiller assembly. All that is bolted in place in custom chalks.

    Much of the extra line is stowed below decks against the hull in bags in various hatches, and/or on top in the anchor locker in heavy duty mesh bags so it is easy to move when deploying/retrieving the anchor. [Another advantage of using Dyneema is it doesn't take much space to store...]

    RE: Hydraulic windlass- that is a great way to go. I wouldn't hesitate if my boat already had hydraulics... That eliminates a whole host of issues associated with hi amperage DC circuits. And we always run the engine when retrieving the anchor anyway, so that would not be any different for us...

    RE: Re-galvanizing HT chain: It depends... Grade 43 is no problem as it is not heat treated as part of fabrication. Grade 70 yes, you may suffer ~10% strength reduction and need a knowledgable galvanizer to prevent hydrogen embrittlement.

    A great treatise on chain, re-galvanizing, etc. is available on the Attainable Adventure Cruising site I referenced on the page we are discussing.

    Thanks for your questions and comments. It is always good to revisit why and how we do things...

    Cheers! Bill

  5. Hi Bill,

    Thanks for the considered reply. I get it with the windlass. I did look at the specs. It's a rather neat machine. My Maxwell is more correctly described as a capstan I guess with your windlass having a superior application of force i.e vertically.

    Yes hydraulics are wonderful but there are cons. On the pro side is my drop down bow thruster has effortless power and does not overheat. You can spin the 64' with ease. The windlass and thruster are powered by an engine driven pump so both require engine power. The beauty of hydraulics of course is the working parts are self lubricating with hopefully built in reliability albeit with hoses under extreme pressure and a large 130 ft near new US/Chinese builtmotor yacht just up from me burst a hose not long ago with devastating effect on the owners bath/state-room. Apparently it was all down to a crappy crimped coupling.

    My winches/furlers are also hydraulic driven by 2 x 24v pumps as a separate system, a Lewmar design/controlled system. The main motive power for example in the windlass can fit in the palm of your hand. The pressure hose supplying it is maybe a rigid 3/4 of an inch. There are a lot of those with 7 (?) deck winches and supply and return. The little motors are not a problem. Cheap industrial alum no maintenance easy to replace. Used in massive assembly lines and earth moving gear worldwide.

    The cons are that you need an electro-mechanical brain/system to control all the individual motors/pumps and that is where it gets complicated. Each winch has a deck switch, a solenoid hyd valve etc. Each winch is 2 speed so the controller can detect the main pump pressure and bring in the secondary pump to speed things up or high speed the winch. Ditto for the in mast/foresail furling etc.

    The cons are in the electrical complexity. Terminal corrosion etc. Of course there is a manual (ugh!) over-ride to all.

    RE Catenary. Yes I agree. Bar tight is bar tight. I do however maintain until you get to those conditions 420 ft of 1/2 inch chain does hang around. After that of course you hope the nylon has had good quality control and I mean that seriously as there are a lot of cheap alternatives.

    Re Anchor. There is miles of debate on Rocna/Manson. Manson are still made (afaik) in NZ but Rocna are now Chinese made and had many problems as a result when I last looked. The problem with my 115 lb (? I forget?) Manson is the rollover bar takes over the second slot in my bow roller. I agree with you, you should have a secondary ready to go and I can't. It's hard to visualise these things before you install them. I have looked at Mantus for a secondary as they have an ingenious 'flatpack' if I may use the term system. I have a Danforth emergency but if I had to use it it would probably be tied to my neck.

    I was interested in your comments on the Mantus chain hook but I can't read the article without subscribing. I have a new unused one. I do have hesitations about the angle of purchase on the chain by the device but also note all the alternatives have problems as well.

    RE. Galvanising. I bow to your greater knowledge on the subject. I do know my 1/2" is now rated to 13 ton. My problem was finding a shackle to connect the anchor. Wichard came up with something for $130...

    I've admired the Nauticats. S&S had a certain kind of brilliance and the Nauticats were certainly unique. My tub (Van De Stadt) is similar in Alum with a stand up Coach house (steer wheel/controls) and aft cockpit (2 wheels.1 control pod) . All hydraulic of course :-). The steering has 3 systems. Manual Coursemaster hydraulic pumps. Power autopilot controlled hydraulic and manual emergency tiller about 8 feet long.. Yes I have used it but only for fun. It was like being in charge of an ocean going Polynesian canoe..

    You know... I must do it again soon ..... just to remind me I'm alive ....

    1. Hi Lawrie,

      Thank you for such a detailed description of the intricacies of your hydraulic system. Wow. There is a lot to be aware of. But having powered winches everywhere... what a treat! The best we can hope for is an arm-breaker 90° 1/2 inch drill motor with a winch connector fitting.

      RE: Anchor chain catenary; I now realize I didn't elaborate sufficiently to qualify my earlier statement.

      I agree; catenary absolutely does exist and there is a benefit- especially in shallow anchorage situations. In our case for the past few decades our anchorages are deep for the most part [we typically anchor in 50-80 feet...] and therefore the benefit from chain catenary is diminished to the point that it is easy for us to choose a lighter, stronger chain as a trade-off for having more of it.

      In your case, the 1/2 inch chain is about the right strength required [per Rochna, etc.] for your vessel, so you get the benefits of both. Along those lines, when the grade 43 chain we now have is ready for replacement, we may very well upgrade to Grade 70 for additional strength without adding weight.

      Your Van De Standt is an excellent yacht. Well done. Yes, we feel lucky to have one of the S&S Nauticat designs. [Actually, that is what we narrowed our focus to on this last boat search...] For the size it is quite livable as sailing monohulls go... but a bit 'salty' compared to your vessel.

      RE: Anchors; yes, it is disconcerting to see manufacturing and material quality assurance and control meander at the consumer's detriment. Thankfully there aren't too many moving parts on anchors... [or at lease shouldn't be...]

      To that end [here in the US] I don't understand why more boaters aren't aware of the SuperMax. [I wasn't either until one came with our boat...] Made in the US with convex, tool steel flukes it is quite a beast.

      With the experience of a few hundred over-night anchor sets so far, it has only failed to set once (known rocky bottom- boulders really...] and only hopped once during a hard pull in reverse during the final set. Otherwise it has been a quick setting performer that has withstood 90 knot williwaw gusts without budging. [This helps one understand our long, double bridle strategy...]

      RE: Fortress; They would make a nice neckless... They are also great for kedging and in single direction pull situations. I have had them not reset [and consequently sail over the bottom...] during extreme wind shifts in inclement conditions more than once, so I don't trust them except in a single direction set situation. [e.g., Med mooring, etc.]

      I love your description of steering with your emergency tiller. Ours is similar with the added benefit of rendering the aft berth unusable during its use, and with a less than waterproof deck penetration...

      Thanks again for all the information and comments. Very interesting helpful.

      Warm regards,


  6. Hi Bill,

    Thanks for the kind comments. Here is my Manson and it's 125 lb (I had thought it was 135 lb but don't have the invoice handy.) You can see in the pic how it completely takes over the bow roller with the rollover bar.

    As I recall, Craig Smith who once worked for Manson started and sold Rocna. The anchors in this series (when I last looked a few years ago..) are near identical. I chose the Manson.

    I refer to this article 'The Right Rode by Steve Dashew(from Cruising World August 2001) regarding rode. I'm sorry but I can't find a link. It's a PDF. I can say a powerboat I know locally around 30 ton with a brand new 1 1/4 silver Polyethylene mooring line broke free recently as the line had melted in the area over the roller. It appeared to have broken down from the core out if that makes sense?

    I note Rocna have an opinion on Poly vers Nylon, no doubt written by Craig Smith the testy but salt experienced designer (in dispute..) of Rocna.

    I'm interested in your bridle arrangements and need to study your technique a little. Soft shackles are definitely interesting if a little alarming to an old fogey like me...

    My past experience in using a bridle (on another boat) has been a 'sailing at anchor' experience and a complication to set or retrieve in a blow. On the plus side of course is if the technique is right you can spread the load which is attractive to me given my fwd cleat layout.

    I am impressed at the SuperMax and your comments. What an ugly face! It has to be good. Great to have your real world experience !


Please play nice...