Saturday, September 10, 2011

A New Anchor: 35-Pound Manson Supreme

Rev. 10-7-2011

Though I've never dragged. Though I'm cheap and have put this off for years. Two things talked me into it:
  • The Chesapeake Bay is full of wonderful anchorages with terrible holding conditions. While many harbors are good, but many have bottomless silt that won't hold much. While many coves are roomy, with acres all to yourself, some are tight, and at the limits of swing you're not far from other boats, docks and shore.
  • ZTC has the same boat and in sold on the Rocna 35. There's nothing like practical field expereince.
Why not a Rocna? Price. That they have recently move production to China and it hasn't been good to them. That the Manson and Rocna design are so close there is no practical difference in side-to-side testing; they seem to take turns, depending on the exact sea bed.


A chain to rope splice in progress, with all the required tools: needle and thread, fid, tape, and Black Toad Ale. The ale keeps me from rushing. There is something therapeutic about 3-strand splicing.
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Corrosion like this takes 15 years.
Re-splicing every 5 years is safe.
For those that don't have a windlass, let me explain a little about the splice. In order for the chain-to-rope join to feed smoothly around the gypsy (wheel that grabs the chain and rope) there cannot be a shackle, thimble, knot, or bulky splice. I even tried a long splice (AKA bucket splice) and it would not make the turn. Additionally, because the strands are unlayed and can all bear the load equally, this is one of the strongest connections, and one of the simplest; basically, a backsplice with a link captured at the end. It does have to be redone every 2-5 years as it accelerates corrosion on the last link (keeps it wet). Clip a link and resplice.

How to install a new anchor and 100 feet of chain when your back is acting up? Pull the boat over the dock and let the windlass do all the work. The old anchor was lowered onto a dolly, the old chain into a bucket, and the process reversed installing the new stuff. Easy.

Though I haven't had the chance to go cruising with her yet, I did take out test-anchoring and have a few impressions:
  • I wish Manson would get rid of that stupid slot on the shank. Not only does it look stupid, on my boat it is in a bad place for my mooring lines when docked.
  • No harder to break-out than the Delta, and perhaps easier than the Fortress. I was a bit worried about that.
  • Easier to set on short scope.
  • Easier to set with sloppy methods.
  • Better on shell bottoms. Much better, though not perfect, in finding good spots through oyster shell.
  • Sand. No practical difference, since both are excellent.
  • Soft mud. Much better, in part do to sheer size (22-pound vs. 35-pound).
  • Brings up a ton of mud. A significant negative, since the Delta comes up clean and the Bay has nasty muck many places. But I can leave a scraper on the bow.
  • Self-launches and retrieves better, but doesn't stow quite so solidly. Manson should have copied the Delta shank design, as Rocna did. I'm thinking I can modify the rollers a tick and get the best of both worlds. Perhaps a chunk of PE or wood notched just so.
Is it better than a 35-pound Delta? Better in some ways (fast set, good in silt) and not so much in others (price, stowage, brings up mud). Honestly, the change was more about my existing anchor being undersize in silt than any serious weakness in the Delta design.
    I also bought 100-feet of 1/4-inch G40 chain. The old chain was only 30-feet, which meant I had to pass the splice through the windlass every time. Not so bad, but because my windlass will not manage rope without a gloved hand on the line it meant that I couldn't manage the anchor from the helm switch, which is better when the wind is up and you're working alone.  Only once have I anchored in more than 14-feet of water (Horseshoe Lead, Wachapreague), so this should do. I've got another 100-feet of line spliced to it.

    I think I'm happy. Poorer, but happy.

    Thoughts after several cruises, 10-7-2011:
    • Keep a long-handled scraper on the bow. It brings up pounds of crud every time, but it scrapes off in seconds.
    • To break out, get it straight up and down and give the tension some time to work on the suction. Better than trying to horse it out with the windlass or by motoring over it.
    • Nearly idiot proof. Lower, set scope, ease back, set hard. Very nice.
    • Holds tenaciously where I have been very close to dragging before. Better in both hard mud and soft silt.
    I think this is the first anchor I have had where I am truly comfortable leaving the boat with a single hook.

    11-15-2012:

    While I'm still well satisfied that this was the best available choice and the correct size, any who say "this anchor can never drag" don't anchor much. There a re many hard clay bottoms or sand over clay where it won't dig, not if you dive and try to kick it in. Same goes for shell. A good bottom is still required for good anchoring.

    In sand and mud, it always reset and always held.


    ________________________________

    SOLD

    If anyone in the Annapolis area is looking for a 22-pound Delta with 30-feet of G40 chain, have em' reply. It would be great anchor for a monohull 25-34 feet (Lewmar rates it at 25-41 feet), but not for a high-windage cat.

    The anchor is in very good condition, with thick galvanize and not a spot of rust. The chain is just loosing the galvanize but in not yet damaged by rust. The shackle is new and the bad links have been clipped off. If you want, I'll splice it onto your 3-strand for you.

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