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What’s the right anchor for my boat?

2022 April 1

Dear Boat Doctor,

I just bought a Hylas 46, and I am assessing my ground tackle. The boat came with 120 feet of 3/8-inch chain and a 55-pound Mantus anchor. Both seem a little undersized for the boat. I am planning to take it down to the islands next fall. What would you recommend?

Dan Friedman

Richmond, Virginia

Dear Dan,

First off, congratulations on a great boat, the Hylas 46 is a capable and elegant cruising boat. I agree that you need to make some upgrades to the anchoring gear.

I would recommend more chain for starters. It is not uncommon to anchor in 30 feet of water down in the islands, and 120 feet is just not going to get it done. I’d suggest at least 200 feet of chain and more if you can fit it in the locker.

If you are tight on space, you can consider an alternate chain. I assume your boat has 3/8-inch BBB chain. This chain has a tensile strength of 2,650 pounds and weighs 1.6 pounds per foot. Your 120 feet of chain weighs 192 pounds. You could downsize to 5/16-inch G43 high test chain. This chain has a tensile strength of 3,900 pounds and weighs 1.1 pounds per foot. If you used 250 feet of 5/16-inch G43, you would only be adding 83 pounds to your bow, the chain volume would only be slightly larger, and you’d increase strength by almost 50%. You do lose a little anchoring strength with smaller chain. The lighter chain will have less of a catenary at any given load, but the truth is that there is little catenary in any chain once you hit 25 knots of wind,

Your Hylas likely has a Maxwell VWC2200 windlass, so you will need a different chainwheel if you downsize to 5/16-inch chain. The chainwheel is very easy to change and relatively inexpensive.

If you are taking your new boat offshore, I assume you are very experienced, but I want to be sure you are using a rope snubber on your chain rode. A short length of rope—just 10 to 20 feet—will add a great deal of elasticity to your anchor, making for a more comfortable ride at anchor and placing significantly less shock load on your set anchor.

Mantus makes great anchors, but I think the 55 is a little small for your boat, especially when going farther afield. I would do a least the 65-pound Mantus, and assuming it would fit, the 85-pound anchor would be even better. 

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