Colin Speedie lives in the UK, carrying out marine wildlife research work for The Wildlife Trusts (you can visit their website at www.wildlifetrusts.org) on his yacht Forever Changes. He is based in the Hebrides off the north-west coast of Scotland, while at the same time he and his partner are looking for a new yacht to take them cruising long-term around the world, including some high-latitudes cruising.
According to Colin, "most anchorages in Scotland are mud or sand, but there is a fair amount of weed in many, that causes us no amount of grief with the CQR . . . One of the major bugbears in the Hebrides (a very windy area) is the variable nature of the fundus, often weed/kelp, soft mud or hard sand, even shingle in some places."
Colin has been a commercial yacht skipper for eighteen years, skippering a variety of vessels, including big gaffers up to 24m (79'). "During that time I have also used every conceivable type of anchor, and have a fair idea of what to expect from them – and what not."
We were pleasantly surprised to see Colin make a post on the Yachting and Boating World Forums (www.ybw.com/forums) as follows, after he had used his Rocna for some time.
Post #: 1080646, Subject: Rocna anchors
Some months ago I posted a comment on Rocna anchors, as we had just received delivery of (I believe) the first one in the UK. Obviously, I had no experience of the anchor at that time, but promised to post my thoughts once I had more than a passing impression of its abilities.
We have used it for over forty nights so far in the West Highlands of Scotland since mid April, and I can confirm that it is by far the best anchor I have ever used, and I've owned or used most. It has held first time, every time in all manner of holding, including the weedy bottoms in Loch Scresort (Rum) and Canna.
It is well balanced, self stows and launches well. The most impressive of its abilities is the way it sets – immediately, which is why I suspect that it holds so well in weedy bottoms. It simply doesn't drag along on its side trying to set, just rolls over instantly and so doesn't choke with weed. Every time we retrieve it in these conditions there is very little weed on it, unlike our previous CQR.
One small concern is that once in, it does take some digging out – but it's never been a major problem. Also, it sets so fast that if the boat is going astern at a slightly quicker pace than normal, the chain comes up hard so fast that a lot of strain is placed on the gipsy – as a result we have modified the way we set it to reduce the loads, or transfer them to avoid damage to the windlass. In fairness, the manufacturers do warn of this in their literature.
I have no connection with Rocna – I simply heard about their product, and relying as I do on anchors most of the time, ordered one independently. I am simply delighted to be able to report on an item that fulfils its manufacturer's promises.
Incidentally, ours is a 25kg for a 39ft cutter, and this seems about right, especially up here where the wind does blow.
And we have reproduced with Colin’s permission the following e-mail:
Forever Changes is currently based on the West coast of Scotland where we conduct basking shark research from April to October. This is a magical cruising ground, where facilities are few, and the wind can blow. Self sufficiency and good ground tackle are of paramount importance here, so we carry plenty of kit to ensure we can cope with the conditions.
We have on board: 65 lb fisherman, FX-23 Fortress, 45 lb CQR + 3 cables. I have used (extensively) big fisherman anchors on traditional craft, Bruce, Delta, and CQRs of various sizes.
For me, one of the most important factors is speed of setting – in small or crowded anchorages this is vital. I am also of the opinion that where there is weed present, the quicker the set, the less chance there is of weed choking the anchor – a major fault with ploughs. Then ultimate holding power, although I think this is largely a function of picking an anchor of the right size, i.e. oversize.
I considered the Spade, but thought it expensive, and I am not convinced of the wisdom of having two separate parts.
With the benefit of use of the Rocna, I now consider it to be:
▪ Robust construction, well finished and galvanised
▪ Excellent performance – ultra fast set and brilliant holding
▪ Ideal for general purpose use – we have tried it from hard sand to soft mud and been very impressed. For the first time, too, we seem to have an anchor that sets fast in weedy bottoms – a big plus in Scotland
▪ Clever design – very easy to self launch and stow, making handling easy.
I cannot comment on value for money – we imported ours independently, and it wasn't a cheap option. Having said that, now that I have used it, I would happily pay the same again – it's that good. And how do you put a value on safety and sound sleep?
I would advise all others to pick the best anchor for the area they intend to cruise, buy the next size up from the anchor suggested for their LOA, and invest in plenty of hefty chain, backed up with a powerful windlass. I would have no hesitation in recommending the Rocna as a bower anchor for anyone contemplating serious cruising, especially in high latitudes.