January 4, 2017

A new best bower... [Anchor...]

We are implementing our 2016 year-end upgrades

Oooo! Ahhhh! [I can sense your enthusiasm from here...]

This post is about installing our new anchor on 30-Dec-2016.

Those familiar with our future plans know we have intended to acquire a Spade anchor for our primary bower. [As previously mentioned on our Anchoring and Storm Tackle page from our Stuff we have and use [and do...] sidebar to the right  >>... ]

Well, it happened. And we even stayed true to our word from our 2014 Prologue to this [then new] blog:
PS: Some of our posts are about products and/or services we opt to use [or jettison] in the moment. None of our choices are motivated by anything other than our objective reasoning [and occasionally rationalization and discount pricing...] at the moment of need [or desire...]
This type of post simply represents a synopsis of how and/or why we arrived at a decision to spend [what little remains of...] our money... 
During a sale we couldn't ignore [free shipping and 25% off...] and not without some careful measuring, we bought a Spade S180[99 lbs; galvanized steel] 

A model S160 [77 lbs] would have been adequate for most of our circumstances, but upsizing one made sense in this case since the NW passage and Patagonia are on our bucket lists...

Spade anchors come with a lifetime warranty...

To put it in place, I nudged the bow over the dock using the dock lines, and dropped the other two anchors [into a dock cart] from their stowed position in the bow rollers, and disconnected their individual anchor rodes. I also took a moment to reverse the main bower chain since it had been used two seasons. [The secondary anchor chain is still new and unused...]

Next the Spade was connected to the primary bower chain [using forged shackles to meet or exceed chain specs.]  

Then the SuperMax anchor [former best bower] was connected to the secondary anchor chain. [The windlass has 2 chain gypsies that can be independently or simultaneously operated.] 

Lastly, the CQR [which had been our secondary anchor] was put back into the custom chocks amidship on deck.

Initial configuration: SuperMax [80 lbs] on left in photo, CQR [60 lbs] on right.

New configuration: Spade S180 on left in photo; SuperMax on right.

CQR stowed into its custom cradle/chocks [made of Starboard attached to deck]

With the repositioned anchors connected to their respective chains, we reeled-in the secondary anchor first [using the windlass] so the wider SuperMax would be stowed in place first [knowing that the Spade would overlap it a bit.] 

Then we sucked-in all the primary anchor chain [360 ft]  and to my great satisfaction the Spade parked itself beautifully on the bow roller- navigating itself around our bobstay along the way...

Here is a shot of the Spade in stowed position [without any manual intervention. ..]
Both anchors clear the bow [and bobstay...] with plenty of room to spare...

Sweet! The net change of bow weight was +39 lbs, but the dependability, versatility and redundancy in our ground tackle is well worth it to us.
Side note [4-Jan-2017]: Since installing the new Spade anchor [5 days ago on 30-Dec-2016] we have been out twice. [Anchoring both times to dirty up the new anchor of course...]  On the second outing we spent a couple of hours transiting with 20 kt winds gusting 30 in sloppy, confused seas. The additional weight was not discernible- perhaps it is even desirable given the boat weighs-in at 22 tons anyway. Time will tell...
Update Dec-2018: We have now anchored with the Spade hundreds of times- several times in 40+ knots of sustained wind and 3-5 ft windwaves. It has yet to budge from its initial set point... [We always mark its set position and monitor with several anchor alarms... Blog post describing our methodology for sleeping well at anchor...]
Talk about sleeping pills on the bow... We can continue to choose to use one or [rarely, if ever...] both anchors, and rig with a bridle as always.

What next...?  Hmmmm....


  1. "the NW passage and Patagonia are on our bucket lists..." Bill uses the term "our" loosely. Just sayin'

  2. What does your windlass think of the extra weight? Any concerns there?

    1. No, I'm not at all concerned.

      Essentially, we only added 19 lbs to the main bower anchor tackle... [Replaced the 80 lb SuperMax with a 99 lb Spade...]

      The windlass pulls a steady 1000 lbs, and has a geared down kedge pull of 10,200 lbs.

      Even with everything dangling off the bottom [>360 ft] , the dead pull off the bottom is ~ 500 lbs. [360 ft 5/16" G43 chain X 1.1 lbs/ft = 396 lbs + 99 lbs for the anchor + shackles...]

      Nope, no worries at all.

    2. PS: Hi Mike, I hadn't had enough coffee yet to realize that was you I was replying to...

      It is always good to make sure your windlass is up to the task, which is why I put a new one on [with all new chain] when we first got the boat.

      If you are interested [perhaps when Melissa isn't around... ;-) ] here is a link to that project:


      I wish we could join you at the boat show this year... Have fun!

      Cheers! Bill

    3. We will be shopping for a new, bigger anchor at the boat show. We have been using a 30kg (66lb) Bruce to good effect and we have a slightly smaller CQR which I will keep as back up to the backup. I have watched the videos on the Spade anchor but think that really any of the newer (mantus, rocna) designs would be a good upgrade if I go up a size or two. There is nothing more reassuring than a big hunk of iron and 3/8 inch chain holding you fast at night.

      We will be at the boat show this January so we will have a look there. Like you, I can be swayed by a sweetheart deal and Melissa has mentioned that a discount is available through the Women Who Sail Facebook page for the Rocna.

      That is a beautiful windlass by the way. A similar layout to our Lofrans Falkon but with two chain gypsies plus new and shiny.

    4. Hi Mike,

      I agree you cannot go wrong with a plus sized anchor of 'modern' design... Our bowsprit doesn't accommodate anchors with roll bars, so our options were pretty limited. We were lucky to find the sale or would likely still be looking.

      Thanks for your compliment regarding the windlass. It is quite a beast. Since the housing is cast 316 SS we hope it remains shiny despite our best efforts to the contrary...

      Have fun at the boat show. They can be overwhelming for me if I don't first pursue my specific interests. Two years ago we had to bring our trailer...

      Cheers! Bill

    5. This comment is to correct a [hopefully] caffein [or lack there-of] error in my first reply in this thread:

      We added 39 lbs [not 19...] to the bow by replacing the 60lb CQR with the new 99lb Spade anchor... [Not replacing the 80lb SuperMAX with the 99lb Spade...]

      Sheesh, I guess 6 anchors are hard for me to keep straight sometimes...

  3. Great. Now Mike has both Anchor AND bucket list envy. Thank you!

    1. Not at all, Melissa.

      I'm sure you guys will find the anchor that best fits your needs and boat at the next boat show...

      As far as bucket lists go, consider coming north for a visit before you go south... It could be fun...

      Cheers! Bill

  4. An anchor you can rely on is the better than any sleeping pill. Looks like you've got a great setup.

    1. Isn't that the truth, Ellen. We call our ground tackle sleeping pills...

      Cheers! Bill

  5. Doug/CelebrationFeb 22, 2017, 8:10:00 AM

    It looks like you have added extended rollers that are not supported by the bowsprit cross bar. How are they supported for heavy surge loads? Do you have any close-up photos? We have a NC36 with a similar bowsprit configuration and want to upsize out bower. (We met you and Denali Rose at Port Ludlow rendezvous a couple of years ago.)

    Doug Krampetz

    1. Hi Doug, [Also sent via email- with links to more info...]

      It is great to hear from you! Thanks for touching base.

      I hope all is well with you.

      Regarding the anchor rollers in the bowsprit: I did replace the two main rollers [port and starboard] with larger diameter ones. Those are both black delrin on a 1/2" bolt for an axle. The bolt goes through brackets welded to the bowsprit stainless tubing. I don't know if those are factory original or add-on. [I know Jack Webb the previous owner] had done some customization to the bowsprit, and this may be part of that effort. [I may have some files from him if so, and will share that info if I do. Otherwise I will attempt some better close-up photos...]

      There is also a 2nd white roller on starboard on a ~1 1/2" ss shaft that is part of the bow sprit. I don't see a way to replace it unless one used a two piece roller that bolts together like a shaft coupling. Thankfully it is good shape.

      There are a couple of photos we took [looking up while the boat was in the sling] when we were surveying the boat for purchase that sort of show the bow roller arrangement. They are part of the photo storyboard linked in our new windlass post. [I'll get some better close-ups if you like...]

      All these rollers could take quite a load, but the don't have to because we always use a bridle when we anchor. Always- regardless of conditions. Therefore any surge loads are transmitted to the port and starboard bow cleats- or the primary winches in case of a storm. [We have a detailed page about how we deploy a bridle.]

      [All references have links in our "Stuff we have and use [and do...]" sidebar.]

      Cheers! Bill

  6. hi Bill
    what made you change your first bower ?
    any issues with the SuperMax ?
    or to have a better 2nd bower than the CQR ?
    As an AAC-memmber I know about the advantages of the Spade, but would also like to hear some firsthand-experience about the SuperMax from a high latitude sailor.
    thanks Urs

    1. Hi Urs,

      I talk about the anchors in more detail on our Ground Tackle Inventory page:


      Basically, I like having 2 anchors that can be the main bower in case I loose one or have to abandon one for whatever reason. [It happened once in 30 years, but once is enough...]

      From the above linked page:

      "We rarely set 2 independent anchors simultaneously. [The last time was 25+ years ago when both anchors were CQRs on a different vessel...] Instead, the secondary anchor is there in case conditions warrant its use instead of the primary bower, or if we lose use of the primary bower for any reason."

      As you mentioned, I didn't count the CQR that came with the boat as a primary bower, but since it has a custom mount on deck, I kept it for a back-up as I have extensive experience using CQRs in time past, and do trust one of the right size if properly set....

      [We have 6 total anchors for various conditions...]

      The SuperMax is a great anchor and certainly suitable as a primary bower. Since I bought an even larger Spade, it became primary, but either will do the job.

      The SuperMax came with the boat, so that was my first experience with one. We used it our first two years cruising 8 months/yr then. Full time now. There was only one time it wouldn't set, and that was on a known rock and boulder bottom... after 4 trys, I just moved to a better anchorage. Being adjustable for different bottom types is useful as well [although I wouldn't make changes routinely, keeping in the middle of the 3 shank angle positions...]

      I wouldn't hesitate to replace it if ever lost, but I think our 45Kg Spade will keep the top honors just because it weighs 25% more than the SuperMax...

      When would I use the SuperMax instead of the Spade? When more surface area is warranted in soft and very soft substrates...
      For example:
      -In known very soft [e.g., glacial ooze] bottoms. [Or I might even choose to use our Fortress FX37 in that case, but only if I there were no predicted wind shifts beyond 30° or so... More on this at above link...]
      -In sand with a high percentage of mud/ooze mixed with it. [i.e., very soft]
      -In shallow sand over rock [more surface area on a shallow set...]
      -In gravel [or shells] or a high percentage gravel and sand bottom.

      I hope this helps.

      Cheers! Bill

      PS: I also enjoy John and Phyllis' work on ACC, and have learned a lot there over the years...

    2. PS: I also copied Urs questions and my response to our Ground Tackle Inventory page since it applies there as well...



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