Which Type of Anchor Should Be Used Only for Small, Lightweight Boats?

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An anchor is a crucial device for boat safety that is used to hold the vessel in one place. Its selection depends on factors like the boat’s size, type, and the type of bottom surface (such as sand, rock, mud, etc.) where it will be used. Although anchors come in various shapes and sizes, they all serve the fundamental function of holding a boat firmly in place.

Selecting the appropriate anchor for your boat is critical, as using an excessively heavy anchor can cause your boat to sink, while a lightweight one may not be strong enough to hold your vessel in position.

In today’s discussion, our focus is on anchors suitable for small and lightweight boats. However, before delving into the answer, it’s essential to comprehend how an anchor functions and its role in enhancing a boat’s safety during adverse circumstances.

Follow along as I provide comprehensive details on various anchors and the ones most suitable for small boats. I will also talk about a few safety tips while anchoring your boat. 

Let’s get going. 


Types of Anchors

Before we find out the most suitable anchor for our boat, let’s have a quick look at the types of anchors available:

1. Mushroom Anchor

The mushroom anchor is a heavy anchor featuring a large, flat bottom surface that allows it to create a suction effect and hold in place. This type of anchor is most suitable for soft or muddy bottoms, whereas other types of anchors may not be effective. 

Due to its weight, the mushroom anchor sinks into the river bed sediment or sand easily, holding the boat in place.  Mushroom anchors are heavy and bulky, and their use should strictly depend on the weight of your vessel. 

2. Fluke/Danforth Anchor

These types of anchors come in various designs and can be a good option for small/medium-sized pontoons due to easy storage and deployment. The fluke anchor is highly effective in anchoring boats on soft bottoms composed of mud and sand. Due to their scoop-like shape, the flukes can burrow deep into the sediment, allowing the pressure of the mud or sand and water to push down on the flat parts of the flukes, creating a solid hold that keeps the boat stationary. 

3. Delta Anchor

The Delta or Plow anchor is constructed from a solid piece of metal that is notably heavier than other comparable anchor types. Its design is best suited for medium to large-sized boats, although some smaller delta anchors may be suitable for smaller but weighty boats.

The anchor boasts a curved shape that enables it to dig into the bottom surface, providing a reliable and super strong hold. Its design allows it to gain a good grip on various types of bottoms, including mud, sand, and clay. Once it grabs hold, its solid construction ensures a surprisingly strong grip, offering stability to the anchored boat.

4. Grapnel Anchor

A grapnel anchor is another viable choice for small boats, particularly when navigating a rocky bottom. Its design comprises four or more hook-like fingers that are spread out around the central column. This unique configuration of arms with pointed ends enables the anchor to grasp onto rocks or other obstructions on the bottom surface, providing a sturdy hold.

Usually, grapnel anchors come with a foldable design, which makes them one of the most convenient and easy-to-store anchors for small-sized boats. 


Which Type of Anchor Should Be Used Only for Small, Lightweight Boats

The weight and size of the boat are two crucial factors to consider before choosing an anchor for your small boat. Using an anchor that is too small or lightweight may cause it to drag or break free while using an anchor that is too large or heavy can be challenging to store and deploy and may cause some serious safety concerns. 

Furthermore, it is important to prioritize the primary function of the anchor, which is to hold the boat steady. While some anchors may be more challenging to store than others, their ability to perform this critical function is paramount.

This video guide will explain how you can choose a perfect anchor for your boat:

Choosing an Anchor for Your Boat

To know which type of anchor is more appropriate for your boat, please refer to the table below. 

Boat Type Size Weight Suitable Anchor 
Kayak/Canoe <10ft <200lbs Grapnel 
Dinghy 10-20ft 200-1000lbs Fluke, mushroom
Bass /Pontoon 20-24ft 1000-3000lbs Delta, Fluke
Runabout 24-30ft 3000-8000lbs Delta, Darnforth
Cruiser/Yacht 30ft+ 8000lbs+ Delta, Darnforth


As a general rule, an anchor should weigh approximately 1.8-2 times the weight of the boat to achieve optimal performance. Additionally, the anchor line should be at least 7-8 times the depth of the water.


Anchoring Your Boat? Safety Tips To Keep In Mind

In addition to choosing the right type and size of anchor, there are several tips that can help ensure your boat stays secure while anchored:

  • After you have dropped the anchor and enough anchor line underwater, gradually reverse the boat to set the anchor firmly. After the anchor is set, give it a solid pull to ensure it is firmly secured.
  • Regularly monitoring the position and activity of the anchor is crucial to ensure it remains securely in place. If you observe any drifting of the boat, it’s time to reset the anchor or move it to a new location.
  • Keep the snubber handy, especially if you are operating a small boat. A snubber reduces the strain on the anchor line by absorbing the shock of waves and currents.

Please refer to the following video to learn how to properly anchor your boat:

Anchoring a Boat – How to use a boat anchor


Final Word

The knowledge of anchors is crucial for any boater or someone who aspires to become a professional boater or crew member. 

In conclusion, the fluke anchor and grapnel anchor are the most suitable choices for small boats due to their lightweight nature, easy storage, and secure hold on most bottom surfaces. It is important to consider the weight of the boat, the type of water to be explored, and weather conditions when selecting an anchor.


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