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Thread: Fisherman Anchor?

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I have been reading the February issue of WoodenBoat. As I read the articles it is becoming more and more apparent how much I need to learn about the art of boatbuilding and the art of sailing. The good news is that I find myself understanding a little bit more each time I read WBM and the great postings and FAQ in this forum.

I am building the little shellback dinghy you have probably seen in WBM. So far all goes well. The hull is almost ready to flip over – it needs final sanding/filling and shaping of the outer stem. Sorry no pics – I really must get a digital camera!

In the WBM article about the Salty Heaven daysailer the author mentions a fisherman anchor. I promise to buy a book of nautical terms and definitions (believe me I need one), but in the meantime can someone please tell me what a fisherman anchor is? I kinda thought an anchor was an anchor? I do know what a sea anchor is even though I’ve never actually seen one, but a fisherman anchor?

I picture a cartoon involving throwing something heavy overboard whilst it is tied around the poor fishermans ankle.

I see in the WoodenBoat Store a 2 lb picnic anchor. Seems like overkill in a little lake sailboat/fishing dinghy. How bout a rock? I got lots of rocks. I like the price of rocks.
Is there perhaps something in between an $80 dollar anchor and a rock that I might fashion together in the shop?

Regards, Michael Slingsby

I like the price of rocks.

[ 02-10-2004, 03:07 PM: Message edited by: Hughman ]

Fisherman, or yachtsman ancho br />

I would think that an 8lb plastic coated mushroom anchor from Wal-Mart for a very dollars with a bit of chain (optional) and some 3/8″ 3 strand nylon rode (rope) from the same section of Wal-Mart would be fine. The anchors and anchor ropes are in the same section. $20 bucks ought to do it.

Of course, you could in vest in one these cute bronze anchors. For about as much as you boat cost.

A bag of sand is a cheap traditional small boat anchor . It won’t mar the boat or roll around .Sand (best)or small stones work .I’ve used a nylon stuff sack I had on hand . Below are a couple of bag anchor knots (from Ashley’s ) if you don’t trust the lanyard of a stuff sack ,or if you find a good canvas bag .Shotgun shot for reloading used to come in beautiful canvas bags .Is that still the case ?

[ 02-10-2004, 11:10 PM: Message edited by: Bill Perkins ]

I was thinking one could contact a skeet shooting club and get an empty bag . I’ve gotten away from firearms , but the feel of those canvas bags of shot in the hand was a good thing .

[ 02-10-2004, 05:31 PM: Message edited by: Bill Perkins ]

These little folding anchors arent bad either. I’d guess they cost about $25 – $30.

Actually, in the 3# or 5# size for this boat they are $7 to $10 USD. They stow nicely in a piece of PVC pipe.

[ 02-10-2004, 06:00 PM: Message edited by: Venchka ]

The Fisherman is considered a “must have’ for a second anchor by some folks.

For my very small boat, I wanted the best anchor I could buy, so I got a “baby” Bruce, (it’s a Claw, really) just a smaller version of what we use on the “big” boat.

Why would I try to anchor my lovely little wooden skiff off a lee shore (or concrete pier) with anything less?

That’s the paradox of anchors. 99 times out of 100 you grumble and fuss and cuss that the darn thing is too big, too heavy and isn’t really doing much.

Then that other time comes along when you and the boat can not and must not move no matter what and you grumble and fuss and cuss that you didn’t buy one twice as big.

Off topic, but another coffee can use:

Let the dregs of a can of bottom paint harden in the base. Put the plastic lid on the bottom so it doesn’t leave a rust stain and you’ve got a beautiful weighted trash can that won’t blow off the deck, scaffold, ladder, or outside work bench.

Michael, getting back to your original question:
Different types of anchors hold best on different types of bottoms. I think someone mentioned a Bruce and a mushroom as well as the fisherman.

A fisherman is a hook to grab rocks with. The ends are pointy to stay put, but they sift right through softer materials.

A mushroom looks like a concrete or metal umbrella. It’s unwieldy and has to be pretty heavy to hold. But they can be made cheap, so people tend to use them for permanent moorings where they don’t have to move them. Others use large rocks or old engine blocks for that.

Navy anchors are the type on Naval Vessels. They’re heavy, and work better for larger scale ships. When they hit the bottom, the flukes flop down a little and dig in when the anchor chain gets pulled back on.

The Danforth is similar, but a little lighter built and used for smaller boats.

The Bruce turns itself to dig into soft bottoms

A plow or CQR anchor does the same, but by swiveling its head.

One small note — I’d recommend being just a little bit careful about small versions of “big boat” anchors. It’s my understanding that some of these anchors don’t scale down well because in small sizes they no longer have the weight to dig in. Of course, for the most part the simple weight of the anchor is likely to be enough on it’s own, but there are probably cheaper ways to buy weight .

For small boats that will never be left anchored without anyone on board I like the various small mushrooms or folding anchors and the bag of sand sounds like a great idea. For the most part in a small boat if conditions are so bad that you can’t row yourself out of trouble then it’s questionable how long the boat will remain afloat anyway. Of course, if you frequent waters where you might be in moderate seas but not far to windward of granite ledges or coral reefs where running ashore could be life threatening then really solid anchoring gear that will hold you if you break an oar or an oarlock (or the motor dies) would be wise.

You folks truly amaze me. I was a little afraid of being patronized for asking such a basic question. Thank you all for your diverse and informative responses.

Venchka, can you really buy anchors at Wal-mart in your neck of the woods? I will check it out, but will be surprised if they stock them here in Colorado. Then again, I have never looked for boat gear at Wal-mart so what do I know?

Donn, nice rock! I do have some old tire chains around but would worry about stowing them on the boat so as to avoid scratching or leaving metalmarks. The same goes for the can although the lid idea should help a lot. I do like that rock though. What kind of bit could I use in the drill press to make a hole do you suppose?

Landlocked sailor, thanks for the address. Looks like the thing I need. The PVC idea from Venchka solves the stowage problem nicely. I also am a landlocked sailor, or I should say a landlocked sailor wanna-be. I have never sailed unless you count one hour on the local reservoir as a twelve year old boy thirty some-odd years ago.

The main use I will make of an anchor will be to stop and fish. Since I will most likely be on a lake at the time with no wind (if there was wind I would be sailing) a minimal type anchor should work fine. If I ever do end up on a larger body of water I will be sure to have something more substantial on hand.

I really do like that rock. Anybody know anything about drilling rocks? Preferably with power tools.

Thank You for the sand idea – for now that is the way I will go. At least until I find that perfect rock with a hole in it that won’t scratch my boat.

In the Swamp & East Texas Wal-Mart stocks some boat items. Most of it is aimed at Mega-Bass boats. A few things are of interest to small boat owners. Flashlight powered running lights, 3M 5200 adhesive/sealant, fenders, small anchors, nylon line, USCG approved throwable cushions (you need on for your boat-some states will issue a steep fine for lack of proper safety gear-Texas for sure!), flares, GPS, handheld VHF radios, boat hook, paddles, dry bags. I obviously spend a lot of time in the boat section when SWMBO drags me in there.

Get yourself a Hamilton Marine catalog. Great folks, great gear and prices that usually beat West Marine.

There are boat dealers in Colorado. Kayak/whitewater shops will have goodies. There is a trailerable sailboat dealer around Denver somewhere.

Get a canvas bag and go find some nice smooth creek washed rocks and sand.

I just stumbled onto this at 1 1/2 pound aluminum folding anchor for $16.

Now, what are you going to do about sails. Make or buy?

The lightest anchor I’ve heard of was this: Get a spare fishing reel and short pole. Load it with relatively heavy line. Put several ounces of fishing weights on the end: whatever it will manage gracefully with the reel and line you have. A short cast and you’ve anchored. It doesn’t hold in much wind or current, but as you said, you’ll be doing something else if the winds come up.

Something else we haven’t mentioned: In order to hold, most anchors need to be pulling parallel to the bottom. By attaching a length of chain between the anchor and the rode (the anchor rope) you can greatly increase the holding power of the anchor. Another, further method is to attach a weight between that chain and the rode, or to hang a weight somewhere along the rode. That way, if the boat surges against the rode, the force has to draw the rode and chain and weight into an almost straight line before it can pull on the anchor in any direction above horizontal.

For easy stowage, I really like the look of the folding grapnel anchors. In regards to the previous paragraph, notice the extra bit of weight around the shackle eye (where you attach the chain or rode) to help it tip over?:

Traditionally, a boat should have three anchors. The Bower is the one that is stored at the bow, ready to drop for whatever reason. The second is the Kedge. Fisherman anchors are commonly used as kedge anchors. Kedging is what you do when you have no other means of moving a larger boat. You row the kedge out in a dingy as far as the rode will reach, drop it, and then haul in on the rode to move the larger boat in that direction. This is especially useful when you run aground and need to haul yourself off. The last of the three is the Sheet Anchor. It’s what you use when the others fail (or look like they might) to hold your boat in the worst conditions. It’s usually heavy, unwieldy, and stored somewhere awkward and out of the way because it gets used so little. But if you ever go where you need to be ready for anything.

If you want to see more of what’s been discussed on the forum about anchoring, maybe you should use the search feature and look at some of the threads on hurricane preparation. They talk about anchor types, multiple rodes, multiple anchors, and lots of chafe protection so that neither the rode nor the boat wear away when rubbing against each other.

To drill a hole in a rock, you need either a star chisel and a hammer (slow), or a roto-hammer and a heavy masonry bit (loud, and more expensive, but can be rented rather than bought). Once you have the hole you may be able to expand it to the size you want by spot heating with a heavy torch. As the stone in the spot heats and undergoes thermal expansion, it pops off of the main stone. But if you’re not careful you’ll just split your whole rock in half through your center hole. Always wear proper safety equipment and hearing protection for any of these operations.

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