As a sailor, you have plenty of options of where to spend a day on the water. You can head out to the wide open sea, enjoy time on a river, paddle through a wide pond, or sail on a lake. No matter which body of water you choose to sail on, the mechanics of boating and water safety are essentially the same. What does change, however, is the type of anchor you put down when you’re ready to fish, dock, or rest. Anchor types are largely dependant on the sea bottom of your chosen sailing spot. This means that different sea bottoms call for different anchors. In short, certain anchors could be useless if lowered to the wrong bottom. Of course, realizing you have the wrong anchor/sea bottom match when you’re already on the water won’t be a great situation, and there won’t be much you can do but sail back to shore without lowering anchor at all. This can certainly disrupt an entire day of fishing, waterplay, and leisurely sailing, so it only makes sense to know the best boat anchor for lakes ahead of time. This way you’re sure to have the right anchor at the right time, resulting in truly smooth sailing.
The Most Common Anchor Types
Anchor types depend largely on holding power, the type of boat you own, and the bottom composition of the body of water you’re sailing on. The most common and popular anchor types, however, are the fluke, the plow, and the mushroom.
- Lightweight/Danforth/Fluke Anchor: The most popular anchor type is the fluke anchor, also known as the Lightweight or the Danforth. This anchor type is perfect for smaller boats due to it being so light and easy to tote around. It can easily be stored flat and holds exceptionally well in bottom compositions of mud and sand. This anchor sports great holding power, meaning its light weight does not negatively affect its immense power when holding your vessel down.
- Plow/Scoop Anchor: The plow and scoop anchors are known as “single point” anchors due to their style. They work well in varying bottom compositions and have the ability to reset themselves in tricky wind and current conditions. This anchor type has the best holding power in grass, mud, and sand. While they do not have arms, or flukes, for holding power, their shape makes perfect for securing themselves in bottom conditions, giving them great holding power of their own. The only downside to this anchor type is that it can be a little difficult to store and carry due to its shape and weight.
- Grapnel Anchors: Grapnel anchors have little holding power and come with folding flukes which allow them to dig into their certain bottoms. This anchor type is often inexpensive and is perfect for smaller boats like canoes and jon boats.
- Mushroom Anchor: This anchor gets its name from its distinct mushroom shape. It is rounded at the bottom and can weigh several pounds, giving it little holding power in the right conditions. It is perfect for bottom compositions of sediment, sand, and mud as it buries itself in the bottoms and holds on, creating a suctioning effect. This anchor is perfect for smaller boats, like one you might take out on a lake.
Your anchor’s holding power refers to its ability to penetrate the bottom composition of the lake or other body of water. Holding power itself is all about how much of the anchor rode is played out when the anchor is being lowered into the water. How much anchor rode is played out depends on the depth of the water, how much the boat can carry (i.e. size), and the bottom composition/anhor match. This match also determines how effective the anchor’s holding power is. High winds and currents can disrupt holding power, so keep these in mind when looking for the right anchor for your day on the lake.
Common Bottom Compositions
Now that you’re familiar with the common anchor types for smaller boats, what are the common bottom compositions you’ll likely encounter when sailing? The following are the most common bottom compositions you will encounter when boating on lakes:
- Sand: A common bottom for both sea and some lakes, the sand is usually fine-grained and soft. This makes it easy for anchors to penetrate the bottom while also offering consistent holding power again and again. Most anchors hold their greatest tension in sand, but the best anchors for this bottom type are fluke anchors and non-hinged scoop anchors.
- Mud: Mud is the most common bottom composition for lakes. It has low shear strength is often soft but thick, meaning you’ll need an anchor with broader fluke angle and geater fluke area. In addition, mud bottom are usually just a the top layer over another material, meaning you must consider what’s under the mud when picking your anchor as well. Again, an adjustable fluke anchor is the best choice for this lake bottom.
- Shale, Clay, and Grass: Another common bottom for lakes is one of shale, clay, and grass. This bottom is regarded as a rather tough one for all anchor designs due to the penetration factor. You’ll want an anchor that is able to penetrate vegetation such as the CQR, Delta, Rocna, and Supreme anchors, which have a plow or “scoop” like shape. They’re great for digging into the bottom and holding fast but the bottom itself can pose some problems. The presence of vegetation can lead to false-setting of the anchor as it can and will likely catch on roots, solids, and other protrusions. Be aware that lowering anchor with this bottom could take a while even with the perfect anchor in tow.
- Rock and Coral: This bottom composition is more likely what you will encounter on the ocean, but rock can be found on lake bottoms as well. It is important to note that for this bottom composition, where you lower your hook is more important than holding power or even anchor type. With this in mind, the best anchor types suited to this condition are plow shaped or grapnel anchors due to their high structural strength. These anchors are able to sustain high-point loads as well, which work best with rock and coral bottoms. Check out the Claw, CQR, Supreme, and Rocna anchors for this bottom composition.
The Best Anchor For Lakes
So, what is the best boat anchor for lakes? There are actually a few models worth bringing next time you set sail on a lake. As mentioned above, the most common bottom compositions for lakes are sand, mud, shale, clay, and grass, and rocky. This means that most types of anchors will work with lake bottoms, giving you a wide range of options! The CQR, Supreme, Danforth, Mushroom, and Grapnel anchors are all excellent choices. Which one you goes with depends more on the size of your boat rather than the actual bottom composition at this point. Typically, smaller boats are the ones found on lakes, so the best boat anchors for lakes are the ones made for small to medium boats. Mushroom, scoop, and fluke anchors are perfect for smaller boats, with grapnel anchors being the prime choice for even smaller boats like canoes. Many fluke anchor styles can also be used for medium to large boats as well, so you must consider the weight of the anchor with the weight of your vessel itself for optimal effectiveness and hold.
We hope you find the right anchor fit for you and your boat, and wish you a happy voyage!