see it clearly

Boat anchors are heavy objects, usually made out of metal, that are used to keep a boat from moving.

Boat Anchors

There are many different types of anchors. Some are intended to secure a ship permanently while others are temporary and can be lifted and lowered as needed. While some anchors are suitable for smaller boats, larger boats may use very different anchors. Over the past few decades, boat anchors have changed dramatically to perform even better. If you’re interested in anchors, here’s a brief history and discussion of the different types.

No one knows exactly who came up with the first anchor, but it is clear that they’ve been around for a long time. As a matter of fact, Jesus Christ mentioned anchors in the Bible. Some of the earliest anchors were probably just large stones attached to a manmade rope. These early anchors were simple to make, easy to use, and relatively efficient for the application years ago. Rock anchors have been found as far back as the Bronze Age.

The ancient Greeks created boat anchors from baskets of stone and logs weighed down with lead. Throughout most of history, anchors have been rather similar to the symbolic anchors used in jewelry and tattoos. These anchors were usually made of steel and iron and were obviously extremely heavy. Many classic boat anchors had a sharp point to penetrate the ground and a bulk of mass to keep it anchored to the sea floor.

In the 20th century, anchors without a stock—the bar at the top of the anchor—became popular. Anchors today have taken a variety of forms and most of them are dissimilar to the anchors that have been popularized as a bit of sailor history.

Function of Anchors

The function of an anchor is obviously to keep a boat from moving. However, non-permanent anchors must also be easily deployed in and out of the water. Throughout history, there have been several methods for anchoring a boat easily and efficiently. One of the anchor types that has stood the test of time is the hook anchor. A hook-style anchor is intended to plow deeply into a surface such as kelp or rock.

A fisherman's anchor and a grapnel anchor are two of the most popular types of boat anchors. Plow designs on the bottom dig into a surface, such as mud, as pressure is applied to them.

Finally, lightweight fluke anchors, which do not penetrate as deeply as other types, utilize a large surface that digs into the sea floor and resists the load above. In each case, these anchors are designed to keep the boat from moving. Such anchors are not interchangeable—some are suitable for smaller boats, others for large craft. While some anchors are used to keep the boat stationary for the long term, some are simply used to reset the course of the boat.

Permanent Anchors

While the above types of anchors can be removed, permanent anchors are designed to keep a boat stationary for a long period of time, even in the fiercest storm. Permanent anchors are rarely moved, if ever, and oftentimes require an outside service for removal.

There are a few basic types of permanent anchors:

  • Deadweight anchors are large and extremely heavy. Unlike smaller anchors, which must dig into the seabed in order to be effective, deadweight anchors are effective simply on the basis of sheer mass.
  • A screw-type anchor is screwed into the ground with the help of specialized machinery or undersea divers.
  • A third type of permanent anchor is known as the mushroom-style anchor. Mushroom anchors are shaped like mushrooms with the “head” of the mushroom providing most of the weight. It sinks into soft seabed and eventually becomes entirely buried, where it can hold up to ten times its own weight.