How To Choose & Restore An Anchor

How To Choose & Restore An Anchor | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Daniel Wade

June 15, 2022

Whether you're using a grapnel or a fluke, boat anchors are a must-have. No matter the shapes and styles, an anchor assures safe sailing and gives you more control over your boat. But how do you restore an anchor? Well, let's find out.

One of the most essential parts of your boat is the anchor. From a nautical sense, an anchor keeps your vessel from drifting away while fixing it at a certain position. More importantly, the anchor is an essential part of ensuring that your boat remains safe and doesn't drift aimlessly even in unpredictable winds. However, the anchor is often exposed to the weather and elements and this can have a huge toll on its efficiency. In most cases, the anchor does have visible rust and may not look fabulous. But instead of throwing it away, you can learn how to restore it and give it even a longer lifespan.

When it comes to restoring an anchor, the first step is to restore it. The anchor probably has a coat of dirt, rust, and grime on it. You should perfectly clean it to remove any form of unwanted coating. You should then prime the surface by coating either with zinc or brass spray. Leave it for a couple of hours to dry before reapplying the coating. At the end of the process, the anchor should look pretty clean and be ready to get battered once again for a couple of months or years.

In this article, let's take a look at how to restore an anchor and everything else that's required in ensuring that your anchor is in perfect working condition for many years.


Table of contents

The Importance of an Anchor

The main aim of having and using an anchor is to keep your boat safe and secure at the desired location. An anchor can also help in controlling the boat in bad weather. Without it, a huge storm can blow your boat off or even cause serious safety issues, especially when the weather becomes unpredictable. When perfectly secured, the anchor can prevent your boat from surfs and rocks. It can also allow you to enjoy and relax aboard without drifting away.

To work perfectly, an anchor must, therefore, be solid, dependable, and available to be used not just properly but at the right time. Sadly, many recreationalists often overlook the need for an efficient anchoring system.

Generally, an anchor is attached to the bottom structure of a body of water to make sure that the boat is secure. The anchor can do this by penetrating the bottom surface, thereby creating pressure at the bottom surface. The weight of the material above the anchor itself in turn creates resistance, which ensures that the boat doesn't move from the desired location.

Here are several instances when you may need to anchor your boat.

  • When the weather becomes stormy
  • When spending the night at sea
  • When taking a break from fishing or sailing
  • When retiring the boat for the season such as during winter
  • When relaxing and enjoying the scenery

How to Choose an Appropriate Anchor

Although there are several anchors that you can buy for your boat, choosing an appropriate one can be frustrating, especially if you don't know the pros and cons of a particular design. Well, there are many variables that you should consider before purchasing an anchor. For example, what are the environmental conditions (such as saltwater, freshwater, or lake structure) that you'll most likely be using your boat? What is the size of your vessel and what's the appropriate anchor weight for it? What's the best way to use the anchor to ensure safety and durability? What's the best way to maintain the anchor?

That being said, there are several factors to consider when choosing an appropriate anchor for your boat. Remember; anchoring your boat is more than just dropping it in the water. After all, anchors are not created equal. All in all, here are the common features to look for when buying an anchor.

  • An anchor should have good holding power
  • It should have strong craftsmanship
  • It should hold well in all types of bottom such as weed, sand, and rocks
  • Can be set and reset easily and quickly under all conditions
  • Can be released easily and effortlessly from the bottom
  • Should be compact to be easily stored on deck

Anchor Styles

Here are the most common types of anchors that are currently available in the market.

Grapnel Anchor

These are made with four arms that can easily fold up, thereby providing a compact and easy to store anchor. These types of anchors are perfect for small boats and dinghies since they do not have open flukes that can puncture any sensitive part of your boat.

River Anchor

These types of anchors are chiefly designed for river currents, as well as heavy drift conditions. They generally have three individual blades that are integral in offering secure holding power. That's not all; it has a flow-through hole to ensure that it's easy to pull up.

Navy Anchor

This is a traditional style of anchor that's designed with a stock that can fold flat against the shank to make it compact and easy to store. These types of anchors are ideal for small vessels and can work perfectly well in rocky bottoms as well as through weeds.

Mushroom Anchor

This type of anchor is designed with a wide area cap to give it a superb holding power both through the weeds and in the mud. They usually have drain holes at the base to allow water or mud to be easily and quickly displaced. The holes are also essential for easy and quick retrieval.

Fluke Anchor

Also known as Danforth, a fluke anchor has two appendages or flukes that are essential in holding the bottom. Unlike other types of anchors that rely heavily on their weights, fluke anchors rely on their stock-in-head design to give it a very high penetration.

They're ideal in the sand or in loose gravel bottoms and will bury out of sight when you lower it. On the contrary, using them in rocky bottoms or in areas with boulders is almost impossible. This is because they'll snag so tight that you'll only have to cut them free and this is something that you don't want.

Plow and Scoop Anchors

These are single-point anchors that are very ideal for grassy, sandy, or muddy bottoms.

Electric Anchors

These are modern anchors that can be more expensive than other types of anchors. There are usually hands-free but are attached to the bow of the boat. You can either raise or lower them by simply clicking on a switch. In essence, this is an ideal anchor if you're shorthanded. Additionally, it's a great anchor for the disabled or people with back problems as it's simply a system that doesn't need much effort to raise or lower.

While electric anchors are great for muddy and sandy bottoms, they can be a poor choice for rocky areas or boulder bottoms. All in all, an electric anchor lets you automatically raise your anchor with a simple push of a button.

The Appropriate Anchor Size for Your Boat

When it comes to choosing the appropriate anchor size for your boat, it can be more of guesswork given that the conditions can change depending on the place. This may be hard to believe but there's no right anchor size for the job. In other words, the effectiveness of an anchor depends on how properly it's used.

The most common misconception when looking to buy an anchor is that the heavier the better. Instead of going with weight, you should look for the physical size of the anchor. This is because the physical size is a good indicator of the anchor's holding ability. For instance, an anchor can weigh about 10lbs. but can perfectly hold a boat weighing in excess of 1,000lbs.!

With that in mind, bigger is always better when choosing an appropriate anchor for your boat. This is because bigger anchors are always strong and cannot break easily. They also tend to occupy more surface area, which is essential resisting pullout while having more weight to penetrate much deeper. In essence, you should go with the biggest anchor you can get for the size of your watercraft. Well, the last thing you may want is an anchor that can be swept off when the winds become rougher.

Are you still confused? Well, you can choose to use the scope rule. This is essentially the ratio of the length of the rope to the depth of the water. For calm waters, you can go with a ratio of 7:1. In short, for every foot of water depth, you should use seven feet of rope. For rough water conditions, you should go with a 10:1 ratio.

So How Do You Restore an Anchor?

Buying a boat anchor can be a costly affair. If anything you wouldn't want to buy an inferior anchor just because it's cheap. Well, doing that will only turn into serious heartaches. Even more importantly, anchors can save your life when things go wrong while out on the water so it's a matter that shouldn't be taken lightly. For this reason, you should always do your best to buy the best anchor in the market. But what if you can afford a newer but costly anchor? Well you can restore an old anchor.

This is how to restore an anchor.

Clean the Anchor

The first crucial thing is to ensure that the anchor is perfectly cleaned. There are chances that the anchor has been exposed to various elements and is now coated not just with dirt and dust but also with grime, as well as other unwanted coatings. The best way to remove these unwanted coatings is by using Surface Cleaner Spray.

Here's why.

  • The surface cleaner spray can remove away the unwanted coating without leaving any form of substance that can interfere with the coating sprays.
  • The surface cleaner spray is highly effective and will easily remove any form of dirt and grime
  • Using surface cleaner spray is simple, fast, and easy to use.

The cleaning process is simple and quick. Just spray the surface cleaner spray on the anchor, let it settle for a few minutes, and then wipe it with a clean rag.

Prime the Surface

When restoring an anchor, you should make sure that you prime its surface by first apply an undercoat of zinc spray but this may depend on the material of your anchor. Here's why you should apply an undercoat spray.

  • You probably want the anchor to be smooth and good looking. But after being exposed to several elements for many months, its surface is probably rough, so the undercoat spray will make the anchor a little smoother.
  • Using a zinc spray is effective in the sense that it's a strong bonding metallic spray and can thus reduce the risks of flaking.
  • A zinc spray is also good for protecting your anchor from corroding. In other words, using a zinc spray will protect your anchor from rusting.

Applying an undercoat spray should be very easy. The best way to do this is by applying in cross-coats. This may be difficult in some parts of the anchor but this is the best way to achieve a decent and consistent undercoat. You should leave the anchor overnight to ensure that the coating fully dries.

Apply the Final Coating

After applying the undercoat and letting it dry overnight, you should leave the anchor unused for about a week before applying the final coating. Just use the same zinc spray used in undercoating.

The application should be easy just like when undercoating. In essence, you shouldn't have any spray painting skills to get a decent result. Just follow this simple process and your anchor will be as good as they come.

Bottom Line

The importance of an anchor can never be downplayed. But because it will mostly be used underwater, it will be battered by several weather elements. Fortunately, you can restore your old anchor and make it perfect for your sailing escapades. Use the above-described process and you'll love the result. An anchor plays an essential role in keeping you anchored and safe while out there so it should be in perfect condition at all times.

How To Choose & Restore An Anchor
Daniel Wade

Daniel Wade

I've personally had thousands of questions about sailing and sailboats over the years. As I learn and experience sailing, and the community, I share the answers that work and make sense to me, here on Life of Sailing.

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