Interestingly, many voyagers are so wedded to their favorite anchor that they carry two of the same type on the bow, often on side-by-side rollers. One boat had two rather new-looking Spade anchors, accounting for the only ones of that type observed. Several boats had plows side by side on rollers. Only a few boats seemed to follow the conventional wisdom calling for more than one type of anchor for more than one type of bottom. Does this mean that plows are good all around anchors, or does it indicate misplaced loyalty? One boat had the classic combination of a CQR, a Bruce and a Fortress, but the plow took the place of honor based on the anchor chain leads.
Fortress aluminum anchors (based on the Danforth design) and Danforth steel anchors appeared to be rigged purely as secondary anchors as they were often lashed off to lifelines, stanchions or deck chocks. Most of the Fortresses sported large mud flaps indicating that may be the preferred type of bottom for them. (However, in my own experience, they work well in sandy bottoms if the direction of pull remains constant.)
In the interest of full disclosure, I counted my Bulwagga anchor, which is mounted on a bow roller. I also carry two Fortress anchors to use as kedges or as secondary anchors, though I didn’t count them in the survey, as they don’t appear on our bow. I did not count a backup CQR anchor we carry on the side deck, either.
The prevalence of brand-name anchors on bows seems to be justified based on my casual observations. Most of the bent and damaged anchors were off-brands or knock-offs, despite the fact that these appeared to not be primary anchors in most cases. The higher cost of the name brands apparently purchases higher quality materials and tighter standards. There were three stainless steel anchors, but most were traditional galvanized steel. Several anchors had been repaired or painted, indicating hard usage.
This informal survey may give a clue as to why I hear more grumbling about plow anchors than about any other type — there are simply more of them out there to complain about. And the more the plows are used, the greater the chances of encountering poor holding ground, a storm or a foul bottom. Despite this unrest, many long-distance cruisers are sticking with the tried-and-true plow, or possibly switching to the less ancient Bruce design. However, the Danforth-type, once seen on many cruising boats, appears to be losing favor. There were no fisherman anchors observed.