'The most dangerous thing in the ocean is – LAND.' It's an old saying, but a true one. Sailors who happily sail across oceans with the greatest of ease sometimes spend their most worrysome nights in an anchorage, firstly getting the anchor to set, and then, sleepless, concerned about dragging. So the anchor you choose is may be more critical than any other item for carefree sailing.
We discovered the Spade anchor when half way round the world, mortgaged the house to buy one, and have never regretted it for a moment. It's not a well known anchor, and not well marketed, but its performance is incredible. It seems to go in, first time, every time, and pulls up the boat with a strong definite tug.
The manufacturers have painted it bright yellow – 'so that you can see how well it's dug in.' Personally, having swum over our Spade in dozens of anchorages, I have never sighted even the hint of yellow. Usually, it has totally disappeared from the surface, while all the CQR's or ploughs are lying on their sides, and would be likely to give way in a sudden heavy blow. As for weed, well it digs straight through the heaviest weed into the sea bottom below, while other anchors simply can't make it through.
But let's get technical – what do you need from any anchor? - See if you agree with these criteria:
1. The anchor must dig in rapidly, regardless of the type of sea bottom.
2. The anchor must bury itself deeply within the bottom.
3. Once set, the anchor must give the maximum holding power without dragging.
4. If the traction force exceeds the bottom holding characteristics, the anchor must offer constant, and maximum, resistance to dragging - even if it moves under extreme load.
5. The anchor must keep on holding, regardless of the shift in direction of either the wind or the current.
6. The anchor design must not allow the anchor rode to become snagged by the anchor.
7.The anchor must be built strongly enough to withstand very high loads.
After two years of using the Spade in all types of bottoms – coral, sand, mud, deep weed - and in a journey from Turkey through the Mediterranean and across the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, we have found the anchor to perform perfectly in all these criteria.
We don't know why the Spade seems to work every time, except that we have noticed that all the weight seems to be concentrated in the tip. The Spade company explains it this way:
'Plough shaped anchors are designed to plough the sea floor, as they move through it - hence the name. SPADE anchors by name, and by action, dig deeply into the sea floor. Once they are within the sea floor, the concave shape of SPADE anchors is designed to compact the sea floor, and thus not to move! This design is unique.
'At SPADE we never refer to an anchor’s weight, but rather to its effective surface area. The remarkable efficiency of a SPADE anchor is due to the size, and shape, of its effective surface : SPADE anchors of the same surface area will have the same holding power, no matter the material they are made of.'
Spade anchors will soon be available online. To learn more about the Spade, click here