BEUGEL ANCHOR - THE ANCHOR THAT LETS YOU SLEEP AT NIGHT
THE ALMOST NEVER FAIL CATAMARAN ANCHORING SYSTEM
Exit Only performed the first half of her circumnavigation navigation using
CQR anchors, and the second half using a Beugel anchor.
We started our circumnavigation with a 45 pound CQR, and we dragged it all
over the Pacific Ocean. By the time we reached Tonga, we were tired of
dragging anchor, and we moved up to a 60 pound CQR. We thought that
the additional weight would keep our CQR from dragging. Unfortunately
it didn't work out as hoped.
Even our 60 pound CQR was difficult to set securely in the seabed, and often
we would have to make three attempts at anchoring before it held fast.
Unfortunately, if there was a wind shift or current shift that reversed the
pull on the anchor, we could not trust it to reset in a secure manner.
That made it difficult to leave Exit Only to go ashore with confidence,
because we didn't know whether the anchor was going to drag while we were
away. We always anchored with 200 feet of 3/8 inch high test chain in
addition to the 60 pound CQR.
I had resigned myself to an insecure anchoring fate until I cruised with
German yachts in New Caledonia. They had a new anchor called a Beugel.
When we came into an anchorage, they dropped their anchor one time, and it
set securely the first time, every time. In the same seabed, we
attempted to set our CQR two or three times before it held. This
happened time and again. The German yachts anchored closer to shore in
more sheltered conditions because their anchors could be trusted.
Their Beugels always held, and if there was a wind shift, their anchors
quickly reset, while we were struggling to reset our CQR.
When I arrived in Australia, I decided to get a Beugel Anchor to solve my
anchoring woes. I was tired of dragging anchors and of long anchor
I purchased a seventy pound Beugel anchor, and it transformed the second
half of my trip around the world. The Beugel anchor stuck to the
seabed like it was covered in superglue. It set quickly in the bottom,
it didn't drag, and if there was a wind shift, it quickly reset in the new
direction. I finally could sleep soundly through the night because I
knew my anchor would hold.
The unique geometry of the Beugel combined with it's
sharp narrow tip means that it penetrates and digs into the seabed as soon
as it hits the bottom. The semicircular tube on the top of the anchor
prevents the anchor from lying upside down on the seabed. If you have
an opportunity to play with a Beugel anchor on dry ground, you will
instantly understand why it digs in so quickly and securely.
In the second half of the circumnavigation (from Australia to Florida),
there were only two occasions when the Beugel had problems. Once in
the Red Sea, we were anchored on a steeply sloping seabed, and we had to
anchor in fifty feet of water. The seabed was so steep that it was
impossible for the Beugel to dig strongly into the bottom. Although we
didn't drag anchor, I could back down on the anchor to seaward and move the
anchor. There was no risk of being blown ashore because in that
direction the Beugel would have held like a champion. The only risk
was being blown offshore by strong winds. It wouldn't have put us in
danger, but it would have been inconvenient.
The second time we dragged anchor was in the
Canary Islands in a harbor with a rocky bottom. We were
anchored in about forty feet of water, and when a sub-tropical storm came
through, we dragged anchor. That wasn't a big surprise to us because
the bottom was rocky and deep.
Those were the only two occasions where I had to carefully watch for
dragging of our Beugel anchor. I reckon that is a good record for the
second half of the trip around the world.
The picture at the top of the page shows our customary way of anchoring Exit
First, we set the 70 lb Beugel anchor in the seabed by snubbing it with the
engines in reverse. The anchor stops Exit Only dead in its tracks, and
we know the anchor is secure.
Second, we use a one inch three strand nylon bridle
attached to our two bows. This bridle acts as a shock absorber and
keeps Exit Only pointing into the wind and seas.
Third, we use an ABI bridle plate to attach our bridle to the chain.
Fourth, we put a large lazy loop of chain into the water. The lazy
loop of chain weighs thirty to forty pounds, and all that weight causes the
bridle to hang nearly straight down from the bow of the boat. When
strong winds and rough seas start to pull hard on the chain, the heavy lazy
loop holds the bridle deep under water. It makes the pull of the chain
on the anchor more horizontal, and it helps prevent shock loads from being
transmitted to the anchor. All of these factors make it less likely
that the anchor will jerk out.
Although no anchor is perfect, the Beugel is the closest thing to anchoring
perfection that I have experienced. I bet my boat on it many
times, and it came through like a champ.
HOW BIG SHOULD YOUR ANCHOR BE?
If you worship at the altar of speed, and if you rarely spend the night on
the hook, then get a light-weight anchor appropriate to the size and windage
of your yacht and to your cruising territory. If you worship at the
altar of security, and if you spend almost every night at anchor, then get a
heavier anchor. If you are a world cruiser, then a heavy anchor is the
order of the day. After all, you want to be sleeping at night rather
than staying up on anchor watch.
Where are you going to be sailing?
If you restrict your movements to an area like the Chesapeake Bay that has
fairly shallow anchorages and a muddy bottom, you can safely get a light
weight anchor that is specifically designed for mud. The odds are in
your favor that you will do fine most of the time.
If you sail from marina to marina, then a smaller and lighter weight anchor
will probably work well. What you need is a lunch hook and something
that will be secure for the rare occasions that you spend the night anchored
out in good weather.
If you sail around the world in your yacht, then
you need to have an all around anchor that is big enough to handle the most
adverse conditions that you encounter during your voyage. Lightweight
anchors might be able to do the job most of the time, but on many occasions
you need a heavy anchor that makes it possible to sleep at night and makes
it safe to leave your boat when you want to explore ashore. During our
circumnavigation, the only places we stayed in marinas was Colon, Balboa,
Australia, Bali, Singapore, Langkawi, Turkey, Trinidad, Egypt, and Puerto
Rico. Whenever possible during out eleven year voyage, we anchored
out. From Turkey to Trinidad, we didn't stay in any marinas.
On Exit Only, we found that a seventy pound Beugel anchor did the job in a
reliable manner. One of my friends on a fifty-one foot catamaran is
using a one-hundred pound Beugel during his circumnavigation. Seventy
pounds of anchor on a 39 foot cat, and one-hundred pounds of anchor on a 51
foot cat worked extremely well for both of us.
Many catamaran sailors worship at the altar of speed, and they don't want
the weight of a large anchor on their bow. I agree with them 100%.
But I also want to sleep at night, and I want to be able to get off my
catamaran and know that Exit Only will still be there when I return from my
visit to shore if the wind pipes up, or if there is a shift in tidal
How big should your anchor be? It should be large enough and heavy
enough that it will safely hold your vessel in the areas that you sail.
If you are going to sail around the world, it would be wise to get a heavy
anchor that will hold your yacht even in stormy conditions.