Last week I´ve received another part of my new boat´s equipment and I shall say it was one of the most crucial parts: The anchor. Now, I do not have all too much experience in anchoring. I´ve done it a few times in Croatia and Greece and of course on my most memorable sailing trip on the Oceanis 30.1 prototype to Sweden, but I am not an expert at all. And here is why it is so interesting: Anchoring in a small bay or in front of a deserted beach, skipping all the amenities of marina life and WiFi-networks brings back that bare and unfiltered style of boating. Having a boat at anchor is as old as seafaring itself, so bare, so pristine and so precious. It is definitely one of the things I´d like to do much more when GEKKO is in the water and sailing.
But here weh ave the problem: Up until now anchoring was always a bit of a double-edged sword for me. My lack of experience, missing competence in which anchor to use and how, old material at hand, like this old Danforth anchor from my first boat OLIVIA made me reluctant. I understand and fully comprehend how an anchor works, the physics of it. But it is still a very, very strange feeling to rely on that small metal piece and a chain, go to your bed and fall asleep while the wind and the waves are rattling on the anchor line. So I made some research and I stumbled upon an anchor of which I literally haven´t found a single bad review: The Ultra Marine anchor.
So here we are. This fine piece of metal work arrived and as my boat isn´t ready to go to the water yet, I put it into my living room where this magnificent looking stainless-steel part looks like a piece of art, a sculpture. But apart from the looks, which is awesome, I wanted to give it a try. A “dry” try as you will. Today I drove to my most beloved beach here in the Baltic Sea near my hometown and took the anchor, the swivel and an anchor line (the stainless steel chain hasn´t arrived yet) to the beach for a dress rehearsal: Is the Ultra Marine anchor really that fast, that safe and that convenient?
Taking the Ultra Marine Anchor to the beach
Now, most of the time out sailing a skipper looking for an anchorage would choose to go for an “easy” seabed. That said, he tries to avoid stony ground, a seabed full of weed, Kelp and plants and sticky mud. So a sandy ground is what most of the time assumably is where you´d drop your anchor. The perfect beach of the Luebeck Bay area may be a good testing ground. I attached the swivel and the anchor line and “dropped” the Ultra Marine anchor. Like I would do on my boat, I backed off a bit, say 5 to 8 metres by giving more line – and then began dragging.
Like in the advertisements and films provided by the Ultra Marine company, the anchor immediately dived down into the sand. Like nothing and straightforward the top and the fluke went down under the sand. It too the anchor one single anchor-length to be fully dug in, buried under the sand. Just the shank was sticking out, perfectly aligned with my “boats” axis. Wow! I thought and repeated my experiment three times – everytime the anchor buried itself with easy in a very impressively short time. I even dropped the anchor to be laying on its side: It went around, lifted itself up, aligned with my “boats” course and went under.
The holding power is enormous as well. Then the anchor got its grip I wasn´t able to pull it any more. No chain to take on some of the inertia by me, the “boat”, but the holding power of the anchor in the sand. I was pulling as hard as I could, the anchor wouldn´t move. Now, that´s an impressive performance! Easy grip, fast dug in and strongest holding power. I got really curious and thought what might be if the anchor was to be dropped on stony ground?
Ultimate Holding Power: Even on stony ground?
The Baltic Sea does not have significant tidal activities, but it can change due to air pressure and winds pushing water into or out of the bays. At this very day we´ve had some form of “low tide” so the immediate wave breaking area of the sea was dry. That´s a very stony part of the beach where thousands of years stones in the size of pebble stones up to fist-sized and even kid´s head sized stones have been compacted by the ever breaking waves. A thick, hard area – rock solid. I know it because my kids use to build drip castles at this beach: With moderate success due to this solid state of the mud.
I again dropped the anchor, gave some “chain” backing myself off to some distance in order to re-create the right angle in which a boat would pull the anchor. At first, the Ultra Marine anchor rais itself upright and began sliding over the hardened, stony mudd. The top of the anchor – slightly bent down – tried to get some hold, a starting point in the mud, a weak spot which it could use to dive down. After two or three metres it finally did and again, impressively, the Ultra Marine anchor buried itself, breaking up and shoveling itself underneath the stony mud.
Yes, it took some time and the dragging distance was some metres, but facing this very difficult task of finding a grip in this solid material it was a perfectly well managed test for the anchor. Bravo! I now know that I can rely on this anchor even under not so perfect circumstances. Nevertheless, of course, I´d always try to choose an anchorage with a sandy seabed.
At Anchor: Windshifting of 90 Degrees
Thinking back to my adventure in the Swedish Archipelago with a night at anchor not far from a stony skerry, I remember that strange feeling I had when laying in my berth and thinking of things that might happen – like a wind shift of 90 degrees. Will the anchor hold? Will it drag? Or even break out, setting the boat adrift with all the possible negative outcomes? So that was what I tried to re-enact here next – how will the Ultra Marine anchor perform when a windshift occurs?
I again dug in the anchor into the sand – like a U-Boat in an alarm-dive it was biting into the sand. Fully buried and sitting the rock-solid, I had the anchor line under constant strain and went to my right simulating the windshift. The anchor staying under the sand! It remained buried but like a plow followed the pull of the anchor line until I had completed the turn. One more subtle pull and it dug itself deep – and stayed there.
Repeating this experiment a couple of times as well, I never managed to break out the anchor or create a hazardous situation. It remained firmly within the ground. Now, isn´t that a re-assuring feeling? For me, personally, now that I´ve seen how this anchor works and what it can do will help me do it in real life aboard my boat. I must say that I was deeply impressed by this performance – and I proudly queue myself into this line of positive reviews and praises: As for the dress rehearsal, that´s a definitive 10 of 10 points!
Breaking out and retrieving the Ultra Marine Anchor
I also simulated the retrieval of the anchor. Because I thought: If this anchor is buried so deep and firmly, maybe that´s the downside of it? Maybe it is too firmly dug into the seabed that a retrieval will be a pain in the ass? Again, the anchor went down and I had it buried itself as tightly as I could. Then I re-enacted the retrieval manoeuvre: Coming up in line with the anchor chain, stopping right over the anchor and apply upward force to the “chain”.
The leverage worked easy on the shank of the anchor and it broke out immediately – as easy as ABC the Ultra Marine anchor broke through the surface, taking it up was a no-brainer. Impressive again. It´s a fine piece of thought-through technology, taking the century-old concept of anchoring definitely up to another level. But what makes this anchor so strong? What is the science behind the Ultra Marine anchor?
What makes the Ultra Marine Anchor so strong (and clever)?
Ultra Marine is a company in Turkey. These guys think about anchoring, the process of it and the different demands a good anchor should be answering to. Developing patents and new products, the new anchor design had been brought to a market ready-state 15 years ago. Since then, some 15.000 boats have been relying on Ultra Marine anchors from twenty to 180 feet big superyachts. Looking at the anchor itself one might think it´s a derivate of the Delta anchor. But the secret is in the details. Look at the fluke: It has a certain shape that is faced downwards. This “Eagle Nose” always tends to dive down.
There are two down-folded “wings” on each side of the fluke which make the anchor right itself when it landed in its side on the ground. These wings also stabilize the anchor when diving under and digging deep. They add some grip and holding power to the whole system and are a signature. The whole anchor is made of non-rusting stainless steel of the highest quality – no zinc loss, no sticking of marine life.
The anchor has a low center of gravity which is a key to it hitting the ground upside down and in the right position. This is achieved by a filling of lead into the tip, adding weight right there where its needed. On the other hand, the anchor´s shank is hollow inside to reduce weight on the upper side, adding to the right balance of the anchor.
The shank is made of high grade steel with rips inside, making it even stronger as it would be if it was from one solid piece of metal. The eye of the shank on the other hand is re-inforced to take on the longitudinal loads of the chain dragging the anchor but also the sheering-force when the wind shifts and the anchor is moving within the seabed.
I also loved the foulbar at the rear side which prevents the anchor from getting entangled in its own chain. A convenient spot to attach an anchor-buoy as well. All in all these features are well proven design aspects and mechanical wonders. Each of these do their part in the overall mechanism of this anchor, ensuring maximum safety at anchor. I must say that I am pretty impressed not just by the performance of the anchor itself but also by the production quality of this anchor. It is now very clear to me, why the premium power boat brand my company sells, Cranchi Yachts of Italy, offers Ultra Marine anchors as a matter of course along to their boats.
A special piece of equipment is Ultra Marine´s flip swivel. Compared to an ordinary swivel – and even a simple shakle, this massive piece of equipment features a much higher breaking tolerance, makes the anchor always come up and entering the roller the right side up. For my First 27 SE where there is no roller bar nor any bow sprit I do not necessarily need one of these, but it´s definitely a must-have when opting for this piece of equipment.
My impression and review of the Ultra Marine Anchor
I am – as I mentioned in this article from the beginning – absolutely stunned by the performance of the Ultra Marine anchor. Sure, it just was a dry dress rehearsal on a sandy beach and not a real-life test aboard a real floating boat putting the anchor to a real seabed. But I promise that this test will come: As soon as my new boat floats, I am definitely going to spare me a lot of marina demurrage and have the boat at anchor instead. Latest in summer I will publish a second test and review of the Ultra Marine anchor – reporting of my real-life experiences.
Ultra Marine anchors aren´t cheap though. They come with a certain price tag: My 8 kilogram anchor clocks in at some 700 Euros exVAT. An anchor for a 50 feet sailing yacht will come with a 2.500 Euros price tag. Well, quality has its price indeed and I´d say this product is worth it. Compared to the Rocna, where my boat´s anchor would cost 300 Euros, the 50 footer-version some 1.000 Euros, it´s still a high price. But honestly: What would you pay for the insurance that your boat is safely anchored, no matter what the weather will do? I reckon it is well spent money with Ultra. Let´s see how it performs in real life then …
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