7 Best Houseboat Anchors (Which Type Should You Choose)

An ideal anchor has many important functions such as holding the weight of your vessel while maintaining its position in any given location. It also prevents damage from hitting underwater objects like rocks, coral reefs, docks, pilings etc., which could cause severe hull damages if your houseboat was dragged by waves because of rough water. 

You’ve got an exciting weekend planned and it’s time to get ready. But first… what kind of anchor do you need to bring along on this adventure? Do you have enough room in your car trunk to get the anchor to your houseboat?

 Will an inner harbor anchor be sufficient if you’re sailing out on open waters? These questions all require different types of anchors.

So which type is right for your needs? This article lists some popular options so you can make an informed decision about using them when boating around town, at sea, or even while fishing from shore. Read on!

The three main types of anchors are buoyant type, mooring type, and fishing style anchors. They differ significantly in their design and purpose. Therefore we’ll be discussing each category separately below.

  1. Buoyancy Aid or Bait Hooks – The Choice is Yours!

This kind of anchor can either be used for moorings, laying down at sea, pier installations, or simply dragging along in shallow waters. These anchors come equipped with weighted shank heads attached directly to the lead body itself. 

This gives them extra stability when they’re under heavy loads due to wave action. 

However, these types of anchors are not recommended for use in rough seas because of the direct connection between the head and the lead body. Due to this reason most boaters prefer to go for other kinds of anchors.

These anchors have been manufactured using high quality materials. Some even feature an anti-corrosion coating applied over the entire surface area. Most importantly, all parts are made out of strong steel thus ensuring long term functionality. 

Unlike bait hook anchors, these kinds of anchors don’t require additional ballasting weights since they themselves act as ballasts. 

Many manufacturers offer different styles and designs of buoyancy aids anchors but some of the popular ones include Davison Marine Series, Western Marine, Sea Eagle, Blue Water Boats, American Craftsman, Oceanic, Bayport Marine, Silver Dolphin, and Atlantic Anchor among others. A good place to start looking would be eBay or your local marina. 

As stated earlier, buoyancy aids anchors are great for light usage where dragging effect is not required. On the contrary, they are unsuitable for heavier vessels weighing more than 500 pounds per foot length. If you plan to buy a larger size model then make sure you’ve got enough space inside your cabin for placing them properly. Also ensure that the shaft diameter of the anchor matches perfectly with the rope material being used.

Most modern models have built in shock absorbers to prevent excessive pulling forces on the ropes. So there shouldn’t be too much difficulty in setting them up.

A common problem associated with this kind of anchors is known as “bobbing”. When a large ship drags the anchor along through the water, the leading end of the anchor gets bent towards the bottom of the ocean floor causing it to dig into the ground harder. Over time, this causes serious problems especially during docking operations. To avoid this issue, make sure you get the appropriate depth settings installed before leaving port.

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Another disadvantage of these anchors is having no way of freeing itself once buried deep within the sand. To solve this problem, boaters often attach small chains called “flukes” onto the lower part of the anchor. As soon as the anchor becomes stuck, these flukes allow free movement without affecting the overall performance of the device. Moreover, the attachment process itself doesn’t take very long and requires little skill to perform.

If you want to purchase a buoyancy aid anchor, try shopping online first. There are plenty of websites offering attractive deals and discounts on these products. Online auctions are another excellent option where you can find really affordable prices. But keep in mind that buying from non-authorized sellers might result in getting fake units instead. 

And lastly, do check whether the seller ships internationally or only locally.

2. Chain and Ring Style Anchors

Ring and Chain Anchors: Generally speaking, ring anchors consist of two rings connected together. One ring is fixed to the top portion while the second one is inserted into the hole making it possible to slide upwards and downwards. Their standard sizes range between 4′ and 7′. 

Usually, the smaller versions are preferred for boats less than 50 feet in length whereas bigger ones are designed for larger craft measuring more than 70 feet.

Although they look simple, these anchors usually serve multiple purposes. First off, they provide resistance against strong currents so that your vessel won’t drift away from its original position. Secondly, they give protection against storms and bad weather conditions. Lastly, they allow easy sliding of the anchor around various obstacles without lifting its nose loose from the ground. This allows fast retrieval after dragging it far beneath the seabed.

Chain anchors are generally lighter compared to ring anchors. Besides, they are highly resistant to corrosion. But unfortunately, they cannot withstand extreme pressure levels. Hence, they aren’t suitable for marine applications. Nevertheless, they are perfect for inland uses and piers alike. Like ring anchors, they offer exceptional stability for keeping your vessel stationary. Most of them are quite durable as well.

It takes very few minutes to set up these anchors properly. All you need to do is insert the ring through the eyelet located at the center of the shank and wrap the line firmly around the ring until it reaches the desired height. Then connect the opposite ends of the rope to form a circle. Next, tighten the lanyard nut tightly and tie a short piece of string around it. 

Finally, remove the excess rope lying outside the ring and cover everything with plastic tape. After doing this, you can now safely store it away till next time you need it.

To install these anchors, just follow the same procedure mentioned above except attaching the lines to the eyes rather than wrapping them around the ring. Nowadays, you can find these anchors available in both manual as well as automatic winches. Manual options are cheaper but may become difficult to handle in case you lose control over them. Whereas, automatic winch systems eliminate any possibility of losing control over them.

You can easily identify these anchors based on their appearance. Most of them have black colorations with red markings showing the direction of right hand threads. Other colors include blue, green, orange, yellow, white, brown, gray, etc. However, apart from this distinguishing characteristic, it’s pretty hard to tell the difference between them unless you hold them in front of your face. 

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Once again, if you intend to purchase one, consult local dealers first.

3. Inshore/In-Harbor Anchorage

Inshore anchors are mostly favored by boaters who frequently travel near harbors. They are used specifically for tying up the boat to dock facilities, wharfs, slips, jetties, etc. Since harbor environments are full of sharp edges and protruding structures, it’s necessary to equip yourself with special equipment to deal with those situations. An ideal solution for this task comes in the shape of inshore anchors.

They have specific features that protect the anchor from damaging impacts. Most of them feature protective covers that surround the whole unit giving it complete immunity to external elements. Apart from that, some of them have thick walls protecting their bodies from blunt force injuries caused by striking against things like docks, pilings, etc.

Frequently, these anchors are mounted horizontally on the side of the boat. Nonetheless, if needed, you can also mount them vertically. Another thing worth mentioning about them is how compact they actually turn out to be. Even though they appear big, they occupy hardly any space inside the cabin.

Since these anchors are relatively cheap, you can always purchase several sets and rotate them regularly to replace worn out pieces.

However, what makes these anchors unique is that they tend to be extremely reliable. Unfortunately, this is true only for newer models. Older models had experienced issues related to rusting and premature wear and tear.

One major drawback of these anchors is that they can’t support very heavy loads. Although they’re capable of handling moderate amounts of pull, they fail miserably if subjected to higher pressures.

Due to this reason, boaters often resort to installing double anchors in order to increase their capacity.

4. Mooring Buoys & Mooring Cables

Mooring buoys are specially designed for providing safe anchorage points. These anchors are usually placed on beaches and coves and function as markers guiding boats close to shore. Most of them are equipped with lights indicating the exact distance between the boat and landmass.

Apart from that, they also contain pulleys allowing quick deployment of mooring cables. Normally, these anchors are fitted with metal plates secured with bolts. However, nowadays, they also come with hollow portions filled with foam rubber. This helps reduce impact energy transmitted to the seabed.

After installation, these anchors need regular maintenance including emptying and refilling of ballast tanks. 

5. Outer Harbor, Seacoast, Beachside Anchors

If you live near a lake, bay, coast, or other body of water where there isn’t much current, then beach-style anchors may be ideal for you. They feature two flukes instead of three, making their weight more balanced. And they come complete with a stainless steel shank (the part connecting the rope to the anchor itself), allowing you to use any size rope you want without worrying about breaking a line.

Beachside anchors also tend to be less expensive than many other anchors because manufacturers don’t spend money developing special manufacturing processes as needed to produce heavy duty versions. Most models aren’t made of multiple pieces either—they usually consist of just a few simple parts. The downside to these anchors is that they only provide minimal holding power. If you plan to keep your boat close to shore, look into buying something else. 

However, if you’ll be anchored far away from land, they might serve you well.

These anchors typically measure between 10′ – 12′. Some larger models include additional features such as lead eyes, shackles, turnbuckle settings, and extra grommet holes. They generally weigh 4 lbs per foot of length, but weights vary depending upon model. It’s important to note that since these anchors lack a weighted pivot, they must be used with a separate anchor windlass (also known as an “anchor winch”) in order to raise and lower the mooring lines.

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6. Outdoor Anchors With Swivel Heads

Outer harbor anchors are perfect for boats that travel outside of city limits or oceans with high currents. Many of these anchors come equipped with a head that allows them to move freely up and down with the waves. A good example is the Davison Marine Series of anchors. Instead of having fixed arms, the buoyancy heads attached to these anchors rotate 360 degrees, meaning they won’t snag anything when being raised and lowered by waves.

Some of these anchors also come with a metal ball inside that serves as a stopper to prevent further movement once the anchor has reached its desired depth. While most people who purchase these anchors assume that they’re simply designed to hold fast until help arrives, they actually function quite similarly to seakeepers. 

In fact, we know of fishermen who prefer to use these floating mooring aids over traditional anchors whenever possible.

In general, outdoor anchors range between 8′-13′ long and weigh 5 lbs per foot of length. Models with heavier heads often include extra features, including lead eyes, shackles, turnbuckle settings, and extra grommet holes. Like beachside anchors, most of these anchors cannot be used alone without an independent anchor raising device.

7. Spare Anchor Windlasses

Anchor chains seem to appear everywhere you go nowadays. Whether you’re pulling up a boat after docking or putting ropes back onto the dock before leaving, anchor chains offer convenience since they allow you to attach several small mooring balls together in a row to create a single large sphere. This makes it easier to tie off rather than having to thread individual knots through each link.

But why would anyone bother carrying spare anchors anyway? Well, if you own a sailboat, you probably already know how annoying it can be to wait for someone to finish tying off the last knot on the end of a 50′ rope before finally getting underway. On faster moving vessels, snubbing rings can become very dangerous due to the amount of force exerted against them during storms. 

So if you find yourself needing to replace broken spares, consider purchasing a couple of spare anchor windlasses too.

Spare anchors themselves are fairly easy to maintain. Just remember not to wear rings on both hands while doing so, lest you accidentally drop them overboard. Depending on the brand name, anchors with chains can cost anywhere from $25-$50 USD.

Choosing the Right Anchor Type for Your Boat

Now that you know a little bit about what makes various anchors tick, you can pick one based on your specific needs. Remember that no matter what type of gear you buy, always test everything thoroughly prior to setting it out on the ocean floor, especially if you haven’t done so yet.

And if you ever run across a wrecked shipwreck, please don’t try to salvage anything from it. Not only does salvaging wrecks illegally kill wildlife and destroy ecosystems, but ships are extremely fragile compared to other objects found underwater.

Matthew Robbs

I love the outdoors and especially spending time with my family. Whether on a boat or at the beach, my happy place is near the water.

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