When most people think of important equipment for cruising sailors, they thinks of sails, hardware, or autopilots. But really, when one thinks of the proportion of time different activities occupy, the most important piece of equipment is the anchor. In fact, as I have said before, cruising should probably be called “anchoring” as most of your time, probably over 90% is spent at rest.
Setting out from Vermont, we have had the opportunity to long term test two modern design anchors, a Mantus and a Spade. As frugal sailors, we rarely stop at marinas, so we’d be testing some 250+ nights anchoring.
For the first half of our trip, we have been using the Mantus. Alchemy is 41’ and about 20,000lbs. The model we have been testing is the 45lb model.
The anchor is quite flat and wide, with a roll bar, I think to correct it while setting. It’s design has some pro’s and con’s. Its larger size and tallish roll bar can mean it might not fit in some anchor rollers. Ours had no issue, but it is, admittedly, over sized. One really nice feature of its design is that is simply bolts together. The blade, shank and roll bar are held together with 6 bolts. It only takes a couple of minutes to unbolt everything for storage. Once unbolted it also stores quite flat. This made preparing for offshore passages really easy. With bumpy beating in the forecast, we’d often whip off the Mantus to stop it banging in the roller.
We have used the Mantus on an almost daily basis from August 2014 to Feburary 2015, taking us from Vermont to Dominica. Overall its performed amazingly well. With easily over 100 sets, it has set first time and never dragged in a variety of conditions and winds over 30 knots.
In Vermont’s narrow Champlain Canals, it held with short scopes of 2.5:1 to keep us out of the channel, and kedged us off shoals when we ran aground.
- In the Hudson of New York, it was deployed in emergency as our engine died in the middle of the river.
- In Barnegat Inlet, NJ as we had to anchor in the dark in strong winds, it set first time and held us with shortened scope.
- In the Delaware Bay, it again set quickly in the dark to get us out of the big shipping channel, this time with no engine or windless power.
- In the Sassafras River, Maryland, it held us in 25+ knot winds in an exposed bend of the river.
- At Solomon’s Island, Maryland, we we able to fit into a very tight anchorage at only 1:2 scope.
- In Back Creek, Annapolis during the boat shop, Dockmasters kept telling us to move and we had to repeatedly re-anchor with little space.
- In the mouth of the Potomic River, strong winds and a strong shifting tidal current swung Alchemy repeatedly through 180 degrees.
- In Saba, the Mantus held us on 50’ deep drop-off ledges in huge rolly swells (awesome island, terrible anchorage)
- Dehais, Guadeloupe, saw the strongest winds. The shape of the land funneled 35+ knot winds through the bay. We stayed firm with 7:1 scope while two other boats dragged off to sea during the night.
- Portsmouth, Dominica, we were able to fend off boat boy offers of moorings and anchor in a very weedy bottom.
- In Marie Galant, we finally saw the Green Flash while anchored in Anse Carnot (not sure if the Mantus helped).
Let’s face it, anchoring can be one of the more stressful activities on a boat (along with docking). We have a golden rule, “what’s said while anchoring, stays when anchoring”. Our Mantus anchor has definitely made this part of sailing much easier. We’d recommend one without hesitation.