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2017-08-14

Calling a SPADE an anchor

Now, this one has been some time coming. I started to review and consider anchors a decade ago.

One hook to rule them all, One hook to mind them; 
One anchor to make them fast and to the bottom bind them.--with apologies to JRR Tolkien


So, I have been anticipating this arrival of my latest precious for some time, mainly because some bolloxed paperwork held it up a week somewhere in a Pennsylvania depot. Meet the new main anchor, although not at present the best bower, of the sailing vessel Alchemy. It's a SPADE S 140, the 30 kilo/66 pound galvanized steel and lead anchor that is about one and a half sizes oversized for the boat, which is a good margin in my mind. Should we have to, we can bring it up and in through use of a manual windlass, or even by hand, although that, I can attest, having tried it at dock this afternoon, while possible but not fun.

Ground tackle by FedEx: the delivery man was a touch flushed bringing it to the door
The unboxing supplied a lot of packing material: in fact, the 66 pound anchor's packaging came to 76 pounds, which I found unlikely, but it certainly arrived intact. The reason I ordered a couple of weeks ago was because SPADE Anchors USA were having a decent sale and because I had had some strong recommendations for the SPADE (which is, apparently, always shouted) via both John Harries of Attainable Adventure Cruising, whose opinion I value, and from the convincing and thorough videos of "S/V Panope", which have compared a variety of anchors with an eye to short-scope holding. While I do not prefer to anchor that way, if an anchor has problems, or problems in certain bottom types, or in terms of resetting, that's where they'll be most likely revealed.
The anchor's two-piece: the plow part and a forged shaft that slots in a keeper and is secured with a 3/4" bolt.
The breakdown into two pieces facilitated transport by bike trailer down to Alchemy. Transport mostly downhill, thank goodness.
Very well cushioned!
 I made some room by removing the old main anchor, a 45-pound original CQR.
It's in good condition. It should be: we've never used it.
Yes, the real thing. The best 1930s ground tackle designers could devise, but things have changed since then.
Even a boat with as bluff bows as Alchemy is not insensitive to weight in the ends. So I took out another anchor, a CQR knock-off in excellent condition called a Kingston (made in Kingston, Ontario) K 27. It's (unsurprisingly) 27 pounds and would make a decent main anchor for a boat up to around 33 feet. It's going on Kijiji or people around Toronto can make me an offer.
Hard to see, but it says the anchor make.
As in "make me an offer".

That the shiniest damn galvanizing I can recall.
The SPADE anchors are built like many other plow styles, but in a "boxed" format with weight concentrated in one end. The tip, which has cast lead in it to guide the anchor through the substrate, was sharp enough to leave a mark on the deck.
I may change this for a split pin.
The shank sets into a welded box base and is kept by a heavy bolt which is in turn kept in place by a Nylok nut and a cotter pin.
The SPADE doesn't look as massive as I had thought it would vis-a-vis the anchor roller and bowsprit fittings. In fact, it looks a good fit.
The installation went smoothly: two beefy Winchard shackles, properly moused, now link the SPADE shank to 150 feet of 3/8" chain. That's only enough to anchor with a conservative rode scope ratio of 7:1  to 22 feet, but it's not hard to find less than that around the lake and in anticipated light weather, a scope of 5:1, or around 30 feet, would be fine. I truly believe getting the correct ground tackle is one of the more important decisions one can make. Another is using it correctly, and part of that is found in putting out enough rode. We have two: rope and chain for the Fortress and all chain for the main.
The shank is secured by a 3/8th inch line and the chain by a chain hook. In addition, the shank is wedged under the end of the pipe rail. I may devise a "keeper" (even just a piece of metal plate) to secure the anchor more firrmly on its roller.
So the anchor inventory is now as follows: a 30 kilo SPADE as main anchor; a 15 kilo Bruce as secondary; a 10 kilo Fortress FX-37 as lunch hook/kedge/storm anchor, and a six kilo FX-21 as a stern anchor. The 45 lb CQR many or may not come along with us...we'll see. You'll note that I have a very mixed bag in terms of the way these anchors work: unlike some anchor manufacturers, I believe that while we can approach a "one anchor for all bottoms" state of grace, it's better to err on the side of caution and some bottoms favour even older designs, like the Bruce, while others favour less obvious designs for heavy weather, like the Fortress, which shares the bow with the SPADE now, as it is a great hook for fair-weather, short duration anchoring, but also has an excellent record as a storm anchor thanks to its large area and tendency to dig itself deeply.

Some considerations to come include the installation (at last!) of the Lofrans Tigres windlass, which will necessitate a rather daunting rethink of the forepeak workshop, plus the drilling through of a hawse-pipe through the deck for the chain fall; the making up of a better chain hook, a snubber for the plate at the waterline below the bobstay seen in the photo above, the making up of a suitable anchor bridle, and even the creation of a cheap anchor buoy. Finally, a use for a Clorox bottle!

2 comments:

Silverheels III said...

Hi Marc. Had a close look at the Spades here in the chandlery in Le Marin Martinique. Two things.
Why have a two piece anchor/shank? For shipping convenience? Stowing convenience in a locker on a boat? Isn't the connection a potential point of failure?
In addition, that bulky shank receiver assembly is underneath the spade, right where you'd expect to find a strong, thin, sharp bottom digging shovel shape.
Granted, that lead-filled cavity is impressively weighty, but in our experience (with Rocna) , the bottom makeup of a typical Caribbean anchorage is just a few inches of coral rubble over a hard compacted substrate; all made even more difficult to penetrate  by thick mats of turtle grass.
The Rocna is heavy, thin, sharp with a solid shank strongly welded to the blade; perfect for digging into the material I've described. BTW, our Rocna also excels in soft, oosie "ploof" mud, commonly found in Chesepeake and tropical mangrove bays. The secondary Delta just plows through soft mud like...well, like a farmer's plough.

Rhys said...

Ken/Lynn: The two-piece is in fact for stowing convenience. On passage, I will be breaking this down and getting it off the bow. The Fortress can stay at the ready. The Spade seems to bury effectively and (lead-filled) point down, no problems. See the beautifully made SV Panope videos here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tqNzSrfG_8A

Much of the SV Panope "head to head" anchoring comparisons are, of course, in stupidly short scope, and the role of snubbers/bridles really doesn't come into it. Nonetheless, it's a heavy steel boat and is therefore a good resource for me to review. I have watched most of them intently. Much has been revealed.

I also relied on the advice and experience of John Harries, a "100,000 miler" mostly in high latitudes, and with a 53 foot aluminum cutter heavier than us, who related his positive experience with SPADE in terms of hard-setting and (importantly) its eagerness to reset quickly.

Lastly, I got 30% off. If you accept, as I do, that most modern anchors are roughly equivalent in holding power and resetting capability, that was an incentive. I was interested in the Super Sarca, but they are poorly distributed here and I didn't want to go with my not-great 45 pound CQR.

For the record, we are getting rid of a 27 lb Kingston and the 45 pound CQR. I'm keeping a 33 pound "real" Bruce as a secondary, the new 30 kilo SPADE as a main, and a FX-37 Fortress as a lunch hook/kedge and a FX-21 as a stern anchor. Oh, and the dinghy has a grapnel. Rodes are 190 feet of 3/8" chain, which will increases to 300 feet of 3/8" G43 chain pending tests on the windlass, and 150 feet of 3/4" three-strand on a 15 foot 3/8" chain leader for the Fortresses. I have a snubber made up, but I need to make up bridles and a better chain hook. Again, a few blows in tight anchorages will determine if I need to change this inventory up.

I took a long time to make this decision, and only multiple anchorings in various conditions will verify this. I'm glad you are happy with your Rocna, but I would also suggest you probably don't push your luck with short scopes the way a lot of others seem to do. The principles we both learned in the 1999 CYA course regarding catenary and shock loads still apply.