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4 Popular Types of Sailboat Anchors

4 Popular Types of Sailboat Anchors

Sailboat anchors are a frequently overlooked yet necessary item, and it might come as a surprise that many new boats do not come with one. As such, it is usually a boater’s next purchase before going out and spending time on the water.

Unless you are a seasoned skipper, choosing the right type of anchor can be overwhelming as there are several styles, each with its pros and cons. Additionally, having to consider the length, height, and weight of your boat. Furthermore, it is often recommended to have two anchors of different designs, especially for a larger craft. In simple terms, an anchor can be the difference between your boat staying in place or drifting onto the rocks or shoals. As such, it is important to choose the right type.

With that said, what are the best types of sailboat anchors for a sailboat?

Table of Contents

sailboat plow anchor


As the name implies, it is shaped like a plow and is commonly used as a primary anchor for larger powerboats and cruising sailboats. The main advantage of a Plow anchor is versatility, as it can dig into softer bottoms such as grass, sand, and mud. In addition, it resets easily should the wind or current change direction.

However, like all anchors, a Plow Anchor has a few downsides. Most notably, it struggles in rocky bottoms, which can be said for most types. Another consideration is storage, as a Plow anchor is heavier and takes up more space due to the hinged design.


A modern variation of the Plow anchor is the Spade anchor. While similar in appearance, it has a sharper pointed edge for digging into the bottom. As a result, a Spade has more holding power, enabling a boater to use a lighter anchor. As for drawbacks, like a Plow, it fares poorly on rocky bottoms and takes up more space due to the longer fluke and roll bar. In addition, being a new design, Spade sailboat anchors are still patented and more expensive than some of the other options.

spade anchor
fluke anchor sailboat


The Fluke anchor, or Danforth, is frequently used as a primary anchor on smaller boats and sailboats due to its lightweight, excellent holding power, and compact size. However, it can be used as a stern or secondary anchor for larger craft. While a Fluke anchor is regarded as the best type in the mud and sand, it is less than ideal on other surfaces. In addition, it tends to become unstuck if the wind or currents shift and the boat drifts in the opposite direction that the sailboat anchors are set.


Claw sailboat anchors are popular for boaters thanks to their all-around performance. It is easy to set, grips well in sand and mud, and can hold on to rocks and coral. As for disadvantages, Claw anchors can have difficulty digging into clay and grassy bottoms. Like the types mentioned above, it is bulky and best suited for a bow install.

claw anchor sailboat

What Style of Sailboat Anchors Are Best?

As you can tell, there is not a “one-size-fits-all” anchor as there are several factors to consider, such as the bottom, size, and windage of your boat. Likewise, for larger craft, one or two anchors, and what type? Lastly, what material, galvanized steel, stainless steel, or aluminum, although the latter is more popular with sail boaters due to its lightweight.

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