18 Popular Sailboat Anchor Types

Being able to anchor out after having arrived in a cozy and isolated bay to enjoy the rest of the day in complete contentedness or simply anchoring right outside a marina to save a bit of time and money is an amazing luxury to have. To properly set a sailboat anchor, however, requires a good quality, dependable anchor, so knowing the different sailboat anchor types is a must.

Knowing which sailboat anchor type is best for you depends on which conditions you’ll mostly be using your anchor. If you’re like most people, you’ll only need to choose between a few sailboat anchor types, but it’s always good to know about all the options available to you.

That’s exactly why I put together a list of the most popular sailboat anchor types that you’ll want to consider adding to your sailboat the next time you’re out on the water setting anchor. However, there has been a resurgence in terms of anchor design over the years, so I’ll be distinguishing between the classic and modern sailboat anchor types.

What Makes a Good Anchor

Before we dive into the many different sailboat anchor types, we should quickly cover what makes a good anchor. Depending on the circumstances, you’ll want one anchor over another. However, there are certain qualities we want in almost all of our anchors before we set out on a sailing adventure.

  1. Fast Dig in Time: It’s important that any anchor you use has the ability to dig into the seabed as fast as possible. The sooner the anchor is attached to the seabed, the earlier your chain will lay out.
  2. Buries Deep into the Seabed: Ensuring your anchor can bury well into the seabed means it’ll be firmly attached to the Earth. The anchor chain does most of the work when keeping your sailboat from moving much, but the anchor’s position must be solid.
  3. Holds a High Load: There are a lot of different sailboats of different sizes. Making sure the anchor you have has sufficient surface area, flukes, and holding power is of the utmost importance for ensuring a strong holding power.
  4. Maneuvers Well During Tide and Current Shifts: There will be times when the tide, currents, and wind move your sailboat around while anchored out. Being confident your anchor can effectively maneuver under these conditions while staying well-enough in place is a very important quality.

Classic Anchor Types

Let’s take a look at some of the classic types of anchors used in sailboats. You’ll most definitely see these anchor types in sailboats all over the world, so it’s a good idea to get accustomed to them and understand their advantages and disadvantages.

Fisherman/Admiralty Anchor

Probably the most common image of a sailboat anchor that’s conjured up in our heads is the traditional Fisherman/Admiralty anchor. This sailboat anchor type is what we see on many coats of arms or similar symbols and can still be found on sailboats all over the world.

Advantages

  • Can be stowed flat.
  • Holding power in sand, mud, or other loose seabed is good.
  • Less likely to break due to few moving parts.

Disadvantages

  • Relatively heavier than other anchors causing difficulty to move them.
  • Damage to the sailboat can be caused by the anchor’s flukes when being tossed around.
  • Possibility of the anchor chain getting tied up in the vertical fluke.

CQR/Plough Anchor

The CQR or Plough anchor (link to read reviews on Amazon) was developed in 1933 in the UK and has been a very popular sailboat anchor type ever since. Named CQR because it sounds like the word “secure” when being pronouncing, it’s a versatile type of anchor since it can secure a sailboat even when tides and currents change all of a sudden.

Advantages

  • Holds very well in soft seabeds such as mud or sand.
  • Relatively light anchor that still provides a strong holding power.
  • Digs into the seabed well compared to other sailboat anchor types.

Disadvantages

  • Oddly shaped so stowing can be difficult.
  • Moving parts can get damaged and can cause injuries to fingers.
  • Sometimes requires a tripping line to remove from the seabed.
  • Not ideal for seabed with kelp or hard sand.

Danforth Anchor

The Danforth anchor (link to read reviews on Amazon) is a type of anchor for a sailboat that was developed back in the 1940s in the US specifically designed for WW2 landing craft. Since then they’ve been used in all kinds of sailboats and are a common sailboat anchor type for those anchoring often in loose seabeds, like sand or mud.

Advantages

  • Excellent hold when in the sand, mud, or other loose seabeds.
  • Relatively light anchor that still provides a strong holding power (similar to the CQR anchor).
  • Can be stowed flat.

Disadvantages

  • Moving parts can get damaged and can cause injuries to fingers.
  • Sometimes requires a tripping line to remove from the seabed.
  • Not ideal when anchoring in rocks.

Delta Anchor

Not unlike the design of a CQR/Plough anchor, a Delta anchor (link to read reviews on Amazon) is a popular type of anchor for sailboats nowadays. The main difference between a CQR anchor and a Delta anchor is that a Delta anchor has no moving parts and is thus fixed into one piece. This sailboat anchor’s been around since the 1980s and is a great alternative to a CQR anchor.

Advantages

  • Holds very well in soft seabeds such as mud or sand.
  • Relatively light anchor that still provides a strong holding power.
  • Digs into the seabed well compared to other sailboat anchor types.
  • No moving parts that pinch your fingers.

Disadvantages

  • Oddly shaped so stowing can be difficult.
  • Sometimes requires a tripping line to remove from the seabed.
  • Not ideal for seabed with kelp or hard sand.

Bruce Anchor

Another popular anchor developed in the UK, the Bruce or Claw anchor (link to read reviews on Amazon) was developed in the 1970s and have a reputation of being a good type of sailboat anchor in many settings. This type of anchor doesn’t have any movable parts and has an effective way of realigning themselves with changes in the wind and tide.

Advantages

  • Relatively light anchor that still provides a strong holding power.
  • No moving parts that pinch your fingers.
  • Digs well into the seabed.
  • Holds well in soft seabeds such as mud or sand.
  • Easy to break out when pulling it in.

Disadvantages

  • Oddly shaped so stowing can be difficult.
  • Difficulty in penetrating seaweed or grass-like seabeds.

Grapnel Anchor

A Grapnel anchor (link to read reviews on Amazon) is well suited for those looking to anchor in more rocky and coral-filled areas where there’s little seabed around that’s soft. The great part about having a Grapnel anchor is that it can easily catch quickly by using its hooks to grab on to surrounding objects.

Advantages

  • Holds well in hard seabed environments such as rock or coral.
  • Relatively light anchor that still provides a strong holding power.

Disadvantages

  • Oddly shaped so stowing can be difficult.
  • Sometimes requires a tripping line to remove from the seabed.
  • Not ideal for soft seabeds like sand or mud.

Modern Anchor Types

Now that we’ve reviewed the more classical anchor types, let’s dive into the newer generation of sailboat anchor types that you’ll run into more and more as the years progress. It’s not unlikely that you’ll find one of these newer generation anchors on your sailboat, so let’s see they’re all about.

Bugel or Wasi Anchor

The Bugel or Wasi anchor was designed in Germany by a man named Rolf Kaczirek and set the stage for a new approach to anchor design around the world. This anchor has a roll bar attached to a single delta that’s flat and sharply pointed allowing it to penetrate most seabeds it encounters.

Advantages

  • Digs into a diverse set of seabeds.
  • Has a relatively lightweight.
  • No moving parts.
  • Relatively inexpensive to purchase.

Disadvantages

  • Roll bar moves weight away from the tip causing potential less digging.
  • Not ideal for very large sailboats.

Spade Anchor

The Spade anchor (link to read reviews on Amazon) is an innovative sailboat anchor type that was designed in France in 1996. It’s an extremely light anchor that has an effective gripping power that’s quite similar to a Delta anchor but instead compacts the floor much better. The holding power of a Spade anchor is known to be extremely powerful.

Advantages

  • Holds very well in soft seabeds such as mud or sand.
  • Very lightweight.
  • Digs into the seabed quite well.
  • Can be disassembled for easy stowing.

Disadvantages

  • Sometimes requires a tripping line to remove from the seabed.
  • Not ideal for seabed with kelp or hard sand.

Rocna Anchor

One of the most popular types of anchors for sailboats today, the Rocna anchor (link to read reviews on Amazon) is a very good choice for an anchor. It was originally designed in New Zealand in 2004 and has since taken the anchor industry by storm. By combining the best design feature from the Bugel and Spade anchors, it truly has set itself apart. It’s by far the most popular for cruising sailboat worldwide.

Advantages

  • Very strong holding power.
  • Has the ability to dig into almost any seabed.
  • Very lightweight.
  • Excellent surface area.
  • No moving parts.

Disadvantages

  • Difficult to stow sometimes due to row bar component.

Manson Supreme Anchor

The Manson Supreme anchor (link to read reviews on Amazon) was designed in 2003 and has become a popular sailboat anchor in recent years due to it being able to have a very high holding weight and ability to settle fast. Since it has a dual operation shank, it’s able to effectively dig into all seabed types with ease. It even has the rollbar design that the more modern anchors are known for.

Advantages

  • Very strong holding power.
  • Has the ability to dig into almost any seabed.
  • No moving parts.

Disadvantages

  • Difficult to stow sometimes due to row bar component.
  • Has been known to be heavy.

Bulwagga Anchor

The Bulwagga anchor not only has a funny sounding name, but it’s also one of the more uniquely designed anchors in the world. Instead of having the normal three flukes, it has a total of three. Needless to say, this anchor has been well tested and proven to be a highly effective anchor in many situations.

Advantages

  • Very strong holding power.
  • Has the ability to dig into almost any seabed, especially in weeds, coral, and rocks.
  • No moving parts.
  • Easy to retrieve back onto the ship.

Disadvantages

  • Difficult to stow sometimes due to having three flukes.

Knox Anchor

The Knox anchor was invented by John Knox in Scottland and has an exceptional holding power similar to the Rocna anchor. As a matter of fact, this anchor is able to hold 40 times its anchor weight, which is a stunning feat.

Advantages

  • Relatively light anchor that still provides a strong holding power.
  • No moving parts that pinch your fingers.
  • Digs well into many types of seabed.

Disadvantages

  • Oddly shaped so stowing can be difficult.
  • Sometimes difficult when penetrating seaweed or grass-like seabeds.

Ultra Anchor

Known as one of the most innovative Spade-designed anchors, the Ultra anchor is rapidly becoming one of the most popular anchor types and is often seen as a replacement for the Bruce anchor. It’s a rather heavy anchor since it’s made out of stainless steel and has lead inside the tip of its fluke. While not cheap, the Ultra anchor is known to work virtually guaranteed.

Advantages

  • Arguably the strongest and most reliable holding power.
  • No moving parts that pinch your fingers.
  • Digs well into many types of seabed.
  • Excellent surface area.

Disadvantages

  • Very heavy to carry and retrieve.
  • Relatively expensive compared to other anchors.

Vulcan Anchor

Similar to the Rocna anchor, the Vulcan anchor (link to read reviews on Amazon) is almost a carbon copy of the Rocna anchor minus the fact that it doesn’t have a roll-bar. The main reason for the creation of the Vulcan anchor was to accommodate sailors who found it difficult to stow the Rocna anchor. This is a fantastic choice for any sailor.

Advantages

  • Very strong holding power.
  • Has the ability to dig into almost any seabed.
  • Very lightweight.
  • Excellent surface area.
  • No moving parts.

Disadvantages

  • None that could be found.

Manork Anchor

One of the most recent sailboat anchor types designed over the years is the Manork anchors, which was designed in Slovenia by Marko Janjanin in 2017. It has proven to be an extremely well-designed, well-functioning anchor that can accommodate sailors in many weather and seabed conditions. It’s been heavily tested in strong storms and loose seabeds only to pass with flying colors.

Advantages

  • Digs into a diverse set of seabeds.
  • Has a unique fluke design made for strong holding power.
  • No moving parts.

Disadvantages

  • Roll bar moves weight away from the tip causing potential less digging.
  • Relatively expensive compared to other anchors.

Other Anchor Types

More likely than not, you’ll want to opt for one of the more modern types of anchors for sailboats if you have the opportunity. However, there are several other anchor types that are effective in different environments that may not be the most common, but useful when needed.

Mushroom Anchor

The Mushroom anchor (link to read reviews on Amazon) was invented by Robert Stevenson and is most commonly used in seabeds that are composed of silt or fine sand. While it’s not likely that you’ll ever be in such an environment, a Mushroom anchor will ensure that you’re safe to anchor in case you ever are. Since it’s shaped like a mushroom and inverted, the head of the anchor effectively buries itself directly into the sand. They rely heavily on a suction effect between the seabed and the anchor, therefore the seabed must be relatively fine.

Hydrobubble Anchor

Not unlike the CQR/Plough anchor, a Hydrobubble anchor has a similar design but with a slight twist. It has attached to it a buoyancy tank that allows the anchor to safely float down to the seabed without fluttering around and causing an issue when it lands. This almost entirely ensures that the anchor is in a good position and securely attached to the seabed. All in all, it’s just like a CQR/Plouch anchor but just better at landing in a good position.

Sand Anchor

There aren’t many anchors out there like a proper Sand anchor, mainly since this type of anchor is attached directly to the shore of a beach. These types of anchors are designed to give your sailboat a firm attachment to sand on land when necessary. Generally, a spike is either driven or screwed into sand for a temporary amount of time. It’s important to note, however, that these types of anchors are strictly temporary and should be monitored constantly.