Great Anchor Debate: Plow vs. Bruce
A few years back, my dad and I partnered on a 28' Bayliner command bridge, which we keep in Whittier. Until last season, we used a bruce anchor. I thought it worked well enough, my only complaint being that it seemed to snag on the rocks from time to time when we anchored to throw out a line. With a little finesse, however, it popped right out every time.
After reading Cruising Prince William Sound, in which the Lethcoes made a good case for a plow, he convinced me to switch. We have used the plow for a season and a half now, and I have been disappointed. It seems harder to set and more likely to to drag if wind or current pulls the boat around. Walking the dock in Whittier, I notice that bruce anchors outnumber plows four-to-one.
For those who have experience in western PWS, which anchor to you prefer and why?
If I remember correctly the Lethcoes were on a 40+foot boat. That would have meant a much larger anchor than you or I would run which exibited different properties in the larger size?
Were Bruce folks thru and thru.
Most folks have bruce
Not because they're better than plow, but more likely that that is what was provided when they purchased their boat. Just a guess. I know my bruce works fine, and I'm of the mindset, if it works don't **** with it.
I've got a Bruce knockoff (Lewmar "claw") on my boat and have generally been satisfied with it. But I've gotta say that Bruce type anchors haven't done very well in most anchor tests. Here's one example.
If I were buying an anchor now, I'd take a hard look at the Manson Supreme.
You know, back a ways when I had less salt water experience than I do now, I use to fret over this anchor thing a lot. I looked at the Manson the Rochna etc, watching all the "test video footage" and reading all the anchor pro's viewpoints. I'm telling you I studied this a bunch. Why was that? To be perfectly honest, it was fear, yep fear of the unknown (something common to ALL of mankind). I'm sure it was generated by my lack of experience! As a result of exausting the subject mentally, I made what I believed was a good decision and went Bruce as previously mentioned.
Here's why. I too read the Leathcoe book, carry it with me on all sound adventures and have to say there seems to be a lot of variety in bottom conditions across the sound. Well, after watching all them documentary's I began to wonder, If this thing (manson-rochna) is THAT GOOD, how well will it break out? I mean after all you gotta go home sometime!.
I also looked carefully at my intended anchorages, always protected, never over 50 ft deep never in historically crappy bottom areas etc. Pretty much any thing would work well enough if I did my part!
Then I went the other way, what ifing the emergency aspect, loss of power, bad storm setting, open water,that sort of thing. As all these mental gyrations slowed in my head I settled on the 16lb bruce, 30 ft of 1/4 inch stainless chain and 600 ft of 1/2 inch double braid. It is a well rounded set up that should work well enough in all situations, nothing will be perfect in all situations. More scope than less scope will make up for a lot.
P.S as a machinist/ welder. I can make an anchor that manson or rochna would call their own but never saw enough convincing information to make that plunge. What I did do was make the 11 lb (Bruce) on my stern!
Including this stern anchor to the mix helps a bunch too, none of that endless swinging, that makes me dizzy, don't need near so much room, etc.
I have thought about adding a stern anchor, but I am afraid I would twist the lines and wind up with a huge mess. Have you had any problems of that nature?
I've also thought about a stern anchor. When there's only a slight breeze at anchor, my boat can spin around almost like a top. I think you'd need to have lots of room to yourself because if everyone else's boats are swinging as the wind changes (not the slight breeze scenario I described above) and you're not swinging right along, then by staying stationary you may actually end up being in the way. No experience, but something I've heard.
I never thought of tangling as a viable concern, here's why. I follow a somewhat strict sequence when laying out my ground tackle which has not failed me to date.
Cruise over the intended anchorage and examine the area to be used. This involves both visual and electronic (chart Plotter) inspection. During this inspection cruise I'm paying attention to the flag on my bow rail which is going to let me know which way the wind is blowing, yea it can change, but you gotta start somewhere.
Nose into the wind and slowly approach the "drop site", stop all foward progress and let er down. Knowing the depth from the previous examination I can have the wife start slowly backing so as to not ball up the rode as the chain goes over. Continue backing until enough line has been deployed, usually 5 to 1 in the really calm places we frequent.
At that point I'll tie er off and have the wife take up the slack and gently nudge her in. I'm not big on WOT reverse to set the thing, remember, you gotta go home sometime!
Once the Bow anchor is set I walk to the rear where the stern anchor is lying on the deck ready for deployment and with all slack out of the front line, toss er in. Some will run back a ways on the bow line so as to have plenty of line out the rear and actully set that one as well. We never do this for the following reasons. All that stern anchor is doing for us is stoping the swing. If for some reason I needed to be free of it in a hurry I can simply bring it aboard and make whatever corrections are necessary to the front. Also. I'm lazy why go to all that trouble setting and pulling both of them. Now bear in mind under less than ideal situations that stern anchor could get you in trouble, i'd not want to be made fast to one and have weather develop that could pose problems. This is why your choice of anchorages is so important and another reason to not be made fast to the 2nd one.
If you are aware of the tide state you can simply play out line on that stern anchor until your at the high, tie it off and forget it. No need to alter the front as all you really need is enough line to allow for the boat rise coming from the tide. My stern set up only has 5 feet of chain attached and could probably not even include chain. It's just easier to clean mud off of chain than your line! When you get up in the morning, you'll be surprised how "hooked up" that stern anchor became during the night!
By choosing well protected sometimes down right tight spots and using the stern anchor we have never had any apprehention about "will we make it thru the night?" Nor even come close to tangling anything.
Bear in mind this info comes from my own experiences and accept or reject it on it's own merits. I'm not interested in endless banter about how I should have done this or that but rather trying to help a fellow out who simply asked a question!