How to pick the right boat anchor

Published on May 7, 2024


When choosing an anchor, getting some advice from local boaters or your dealer is a good idea.


Why are boat anchors important? They help you enjoy boating by allowing you to stop your boat wherever you want, and they are also a critical safety feature that can help prevent your boat from drifting into trouble if the engine won’t start.

Most current Sea Ray models under 25 feet long have built-in anchor storage options, while most boats 26 feet and over have the added convenience of an optional built-in anchor and windlass.


How Do I Know What Anchor to Choose?

Buying an anchor can be confusing. Why are there so many types of anchors? Each type of anchor is designed for boats of different sizes and sea floors. First, you need information about what’s on the bottom of your local body of water where you go boating most often. A local boat dealer is an excellent person to ask for that information. Many bodies of water have different kinds of surfaces underneath, and knowing what’s below where you will be anchoring is essential when deciding what anchor to buy. Carrying two types of anchors might be wise in areas with different sea bottoms. Another source of information is found on your GPS display’s map. On it, there’s usually a description of the sea floor makeup on all official NOAA maps, which the ones on your GPS are based on. The descriptions are abbreviated, and most are easy to figure out.


What Type of Anchor Should I Buy?

The Danforth Anchor  

The Danforth anchor is the most popular type for boats 25 feet long and less. It has large, wide, sharp blades called flukes that pivot on the shank, a long metal bar where you attach the chain. If you bought a Sea Ray SPX 210 Outboard or similar model, you’ll notice that the anchor locker at the front of the boat has an anchor cradle with two rubber receivers. These are designed for a Danforth-type anchor to securely hold the round bar at the bottom of the anchor.

A variant of the Danforth is the Fortress anchor, which is made of aluminum and exceptionally light but is also more expensive. Because of its light weight, have at least 12 feet or more of chain to compensate and use a 7:1 scope to help it set properly. A 45-degree fluke angle setting helps it hold in loose mud, which is usually a problem for this anchor.



- It lays flat for easy storage.

- Sea Ray anchor lockers are designed to accommodate this style of anchor.

- It works best in soft sand, firm mud, and clay.



- They don’t set well in grassy sea floors, loose mud, hard sand, or rocky areas.

- It has difficulty resetting when the tide or wind changes.

- Rocks can get jammed between the flukes.

- They can get hung up in rocky areas and in manmade reservoirs that have trees underneath.


The Plow or Delta Anchor 

The Plow anchor is aptly named because it’s shaped like a plow and works like its farm tool counterpart by using its sharp-nosed shape and heavy tip weight to burrow down into the sea bottom. They work on a wide range of sea bottoms. Larger Sea Ray boats like Sundancer cabin cruisers and SLX models typically use the plow type of anchor when equipped with windlasses, which electronically winch the anchor up. 



- Plow anchors tend to self-launch and set quickly.

- They don’t tend to get fouled by rocks or accumulations of mud. 

- They work best in sand, partially grassy sand bottoms, and rocky areas.

- Their shape fits nicely on a windlass’s bow roller. 



- Because they don’t fold up, they can be hard to store in a conventional anchor locker.

- On smaller boats, you might need to add a bow roller for the anchor to rest on. 

- They do less well in soft sea bottoms because they have less surface area.


Bruce or Claw Anchors

Bruce and Claw anchors are similar and have a fixed shank — the long metal bar the chain attaches to — and three wings with the outer ones curving up like a manta ray wings. These tend to set quickly on a wide range of seabeds. 



- They are self-setting and designed to settle right side up.

- Authentic Bruce anchors have sharper edges than most claws, which helps them penetrate a wide range of sea floors. 

- They work best in firm mud, clay, sand, and rocky areas.



- They don’t have as much holding power as more modern style anchors such as the Rocna.    

- Mud can stick to the anchor’s body, so if it loses its grip, it may not reset.

- They can have a hard time penetrating hard sea floors.  


Specialty Anchors


Grapnel Anchors 

The anchors are only suitable for use in rocky areas. The prongs can bend, so if they get hung up, back the boat up and the prongs will straighten and the anchor will pop free. They are a good choice as a second anchor for boaters who occasionally anchor in rocky areas or places with submerged trees. They do not hold to any other type of sea bottom. 

Mushroom Anchors

Larger mushroom anchors are useful for creating permanent mooring buoys in muddy bottoms. Smaller ones should only be used for kayaks or small johnboats in relatively calm water. 

Quick Disassembly Anchors

Mantus Quick Connect Small Boat Anchors can be taken apart and reassembled in one minute with no tools needed, so storage is easy. They rate highly in independent tests and perform well on various sea bottoms. The 13-pound model is rated for boats up to 30 feet long but costs over $500. Even the tiny 2.5-pound Mantus Dingy Anchor had superior holding power.        


Tips to Better Anchoring

- Buy a Quality Anchor: While a cheap anchor might look similar to more expensive models, some widely sold anchors don’t perform well under any conditions.

- Connect Chain to the Anchor: Attaching a length of chain helps the anchor lay flatter, which increases its holding power. It also prevents the rope from chaffing on rocky sea bottom. A good rule of thumb is to use at least 6 feet of chain for smaller boats in places that don’t have heavy currents. For more challenging conditions, one foot of ¼ inch chain for every foot of boat length up to 25 feet long is recommended. Boats up to 30 feet long need ⅜ inch chain.

- Let Out Enough Line: When line and chain are combined, the more nautical term for this combination is rode, and it’s recommended that boaters use a 7:1 ratio of rode to water depth, called scope. For more precise anchoring, marking the line with electrical tape every 10 feet is a good idea.

- Don’t Toss the Anchor: Never throw an anchor because the line can get tangled and it might not set properly. Always let an anchor down while holding the line until it’s on the bottom.

- Bigger Anchors are Usually Better: Once you’ve chosen a style of anchor, select the largest anchor in that lineup that your anchor locker can accommodate and that you can comfortably handle. While smaller anchors might hold in normal conditions, if the wind blows hard, they could lose grip. 


Never Lose Another Anchor

If you drop your anchor enough times, eventually it will get snagged on the bottom. If this happens, try changing the direction of the pull by circling the anchor with your boat in gear, being careful not to run over the line. This technique usually works, but occasionally, an anchor will become hopelessly hung, and you must cut the line and buy a new anchor. But there’s a way to prevent this.

Rig an anchor breakaway by connecting the chain to the bottom or crown of the anchor, then lay the chain along the shank and connect it to the top with one or more nylon tie wraps. Then, if the anchor gets stuck, just back the boat up until the tie wraps break, and the anchor will come free. Learn more on how to free a fouled anchor here


What is a windlass? 

Typically, Sea Ray boats over 26 feet long have a stainless steel anchor and windlass option that can be included with the boat.  A windlass is a mechanical device that grasps the anchor rode and pulls it out of the water for you. If you want to learn more about this convenient feature, ask your Sea Ray dealer about the Anchor Bundle or anchor and windlass options on models over 26 feet in length.



This is for general information purposes only. Your use or reliance on any of the information in this Blog is solely at your own risk. Under no circumstance will we have any liability for any loss or damage of any kind incurred as a result of the use of any of the information provided.

Options and features mentioned subject to change. Please confirm availability of all accessories and equipment with an authorized Sea Ray dealer. 

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