Bruce/Claw Anchors

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Added 06/02/2004


I have a Fortress anchor and couldn't be happier. However, everybody says you need at least two anchors, of different 'families.'

There is a knockoff of the Bruce sold by Simpson-Lawrence. They call it the claw and it is relatively reasonably priced. I am playing with the idea of getting one of those, probably the 33 pounder.

This will be a relatively complex operation, though, since it would probably mean that I have to install at least one anchor roller (my Fortress is so light I hang it from the pulpit but that wouldn't work so well with a 33 pounder...). So, I don't want to stumble into this unprepared.

Does anyone have experience with either a Bruce or a Claw in the Chesapeake? This is mainly mud ground. Thanks!

Col-32 #25 'Tavernier'


Ernst, remember that S-Lis the manufacturer of the CQR (of which the Bruce is the direct competitor) and a pretty old Scottish firm, so that the chances are that they meet a certain quality standard. I personally wouldn´t hesitate to buy one of their products (i.e. the Claw which is cast steel, just as the Bruce). As far as the roller is concerned, look in the WM catalog, they have some that are specifically for the Bruce


Hey Ernst,

Up in the Annapolis area most of the sailors in vessels above 28'
tend to carry Danforth style lunch hooks, and plow style main anchors.  I
have noticed they usually deply their plows the majority of the time, so the
must be pretty effective in the mud.  Lots of vegetation in certain rivers
up here during summer, and Lightweight fortresses just don't like to set in
them.  You might want to check out Bacons in Annapolis - they always have a
bunch of used / and or discounted anchors over there.  Might save you a few

Mark Patullo
'72 C26MKII
Great Blue


Hey Ernst...
MB has a plow-style anchor and except for one occasion way up a creek,
we have never, ever had a problem getting it to stick in the Bay.  We
have a pretty good sized Danforth, too, but have never used it.
Kip (& Beth)
C36  # 326


Thanks, Kip, John and others who chimed in.

It seems a Claw (or Bruce) would not be a terrible mistake in the Chesapeak=
e so I will pursue this further. I actually looked at the 33 pounder at WM and it is HUGE! It would be pretty unwieldy on the bow.  Perhaps it is a mistake to go that high for a 32' boat, perhaps I should rather look at the 22po=
under. Then again, the price difference is pretty small and maybe one day I
might be thankful for the extra heft...

Anyway, in case anyone is interested I will let you know how things unfold



Ernst, the Bruce 22 lbs anchor was amongst the ones tested recently by Practical Sailor and they pronounced in "excellent" in soft sand over hard sand. The maximum load at 7 to 1 scope was 280 lbs. They rated the 35 lbs CQR as fair though its pull was 650 lbs... Go figure...
In any case, most of your anchoring in the Chesapeake will be in mud (with maybe some grass on top) and since the Chesapeake is shallow, the height of waves will always be limited. Some French studies in the past have shown that it is not so much the wind as the shock loads provoked by the waves that put stresses on an anchor, so if you get more chain that the usual 6 to 12 ft before the nylon rode, you reduce these shock loads. I´ve got 50 ft of 1/4" HT chain on Pampero, so that I´d almost always be on all chain plus  10 ft of nylon (shock absorber) in the Chesapeake and I suspect that at 8500+ lbs, Pampero must displace almost as much as your 32 fopoter


   We use a 33lb Bruce on our 8.7. Never has it let loose, even in rough
   We pull it in with a Simpson manual windlass with rope/chain gypsy thru
what looks like a custom made bow roller that flips up to a horizontal position
when the Bruce parks itself. I can't imagine trying to pull up thirty feet of
chain with 33lb of steel at the end by hand. You need to install a windlass if
you go with the 33lb.
 This system was already installed on the boat when we got her.
         Tim K
          Irish Moss
          1978 C-8.7


Well, Tim, that anchor should be good for a severe storm (Force 11,just short of a hurricane).... Anne Hammick, in her book "Ocean cruising on a Budget" wrote that she only had a 25 lbs CQR on her 35 ft Duster clas sloop and a 13 lbs Danforth and that with both strung out, one on chain and the other one on chain and nylon, she weathered a 40 knots blow in a bay in NW Spain.  I only have a 20 lbs CQR with a 25 lbs one in reserve and a 12 HT Danforth (plus a 44 lbs folding fisherman for really nasty ground) and I only put two anchors out once when the weather forecast was pretty pessimistic (as usual, the forecast was wrong). But the trick is to feed the chain/line slowly whilst the boat drifts or motors back and then gradually apply reverse power. As far as hoisting the anchor, it´s only when you get to the last 10 or 15 ft that you´ll have to hoist the anchor plus the remainder of the chain. I have only had problems twice where I hjad to lead the chain aft via a big block towards a genoa winch and hitched a length of spare line to the chain and used the genoa winch. A little bit tedious and slow, but worth the effort in comparison with the price and the maintenance of a windlass. One can usually recover the rode by hand until one gets to the chain and then a bit of forward motoring will get you just above the anchor without risking entangling the chain with the keel or whatever. I´ve had a manual windlass on Pampero III (a 36 footer) and would get a hydraulic one if I had to do it again.  


Wow, now THAT's a level of additional complication I had not planned. I tho=
ught it was going to get tricky to install anchor rollers but I sure was not=
 prepared for a windlass. John, I agree with you, if possible I would prefer=
 to get by without this additional complication (and $$$!).

Then again, my boat is quite a bit heavier than the 8.7; I forgot the exact number but it was somewhere between 11,000 and 12,000 pounds (I have the
shoal keel version which is heavier than the regular Col-32, I guess to compensate for the missing foot of keel below). So perhaps 33# of anchor would be a good idea.

Somewhere I read that raising the anchor is made a lot easier by some kind
of ratchet system that allows to pull up the chain but blocks it from falling back. The idea being that much of the effort is used not to raise teh anchor but to prevent it from falling back again. Seems like a simple enough idea but I haven't seen anything like this in a catalog. Is this an exotic thing or did I overlook it? Of would it not really make a difference?



Yeah, Ernst, you´re sort of in between P III and P IV in displacement so the anchor should be heavier than for an 8.7. But I think your boat must still be lighter than a Rustler which must be closer to 14 000 lbs. You have then the choise of either a 25 or 35 lbs CQR (or Bruce). If you go for the lighter version, which would serve you of the time, you could always "back" your main anchor (the Brits call it the "bower") by shackling your Fortress ahead of it with 20 ft of chain. You first lower the Fortress and then as the chain extends, you lower the bower with a good length of chain plus rode. According to French tradition, the holding power of that combination is equal to that of an anchor of the same weight as the two (my copy of n early 19th century manual "for young sea officers" titled "The young sea officer´s sheet anchor" mentions the technique. AS far as preventing the chain from running back down, a simple modification to the roller housing will do the trick. Just install a rectangular plate (1-8" stainless) to which you have welded a stainless pin that holds it just above the roller. When you let the chain out, you flip the plate forward so that the chain can run through unhindered. When you want to hoist the anchor, you flip the plate back; it rests on the incoming chain but if you let go of the chain, it will get stuck in the next link that’s ´vertical to the roller. It just requires replacing the pin that´s normally on most rollers, but it prevents you from taking the anchor out of the roller so you might want the same idea but separate from the roller and maybe just fastened by a length of line, wire or chain attached somewhere.



I have always thought that it was more hull windage, rather than
displacement, that determined the likely pull on an anchor rode.  I
would think that a heavy and low profile boat would pull less than a
lighter weight boat with a higher profile.  I have often wondered that
when I see the height and bulk of some power cruisers.  I would
imagine them difficult to anchor in any kind of serious breeze.
Especially considering the size anchor that they often display. <g>

And I would think that the anchoring combination which you describe
would be likely to have more holding power than a single anchor equal
to the combined weight of the two as you have completely
straightened/leveled the 'pull' on the # 1 anchor.

A funny thing to me is the 'pleasant -ness' that comes once you have a
really large anchor down on an all chain rode.  Of course;  one must
also be short-sighted enough not to project forward to hauling it all
aboard again. <g>



Stephen, you can calculate the windage of a sailboat in sq ft and apply Skene´s diagram to find out how much pull is applied to the anchor at a given wind speed. But a given wind speed will also produce a certain height of wave and the crest of that (these) wave(s) will move hte whole boat back, so that´s where the displacement comes into the picture. You are right in mentioning "trawler" type motorboats. They do have large windage but they also are usually pretty high displacement so both factors combine to put more stress on the anchor. That´s probably why the ASBYC figures are way too high for sailboats.


John is right. It is not just windage, it is wave action moving the boat.
You have to somehow stop the boat. This is where a bunch of chain helps. As
the boat moves back, it lifts the chain, expending energy and momentum. As the
wave passes, the chain resets due to gravity. You can get by with less anchor
weight if you go with more chain.

   Bruce K
   Challenger # 74
   Los Lunas, NM


Depending on your anchoring techniques, have you thought of a sentinel?
They are an awesome addition to your ground holding power.  It will also
take some of the anchor line jerking away by allowing the line to take up
the motion slowly.  A smaller anchor with good flukes, short chain and a
sentinel will make you think you have a large anchor down below.  There
should be a lot of articles available regarding these.  I have used them a
lot in my past.


Look at it this way: 1/4" chain wighs 0.8 lb/ft. What would you prefer: 25 lbs (30 ft) of additional chain or a 25 lbs sentinel/kellet/angel ? I know chain resist chafing better than nylon rode...


True, John, in many cases,  but not in all. I can think of situations where I would prefer a kellet to additional chain. Notably when there is not enough swinging room (crowded anchorage etc) for letting out those additional 30ft of chain.



If you´re in a cropwded anchorage, a much better solution than a kellet is to put down a second anchor


Yes, John, I guess you are right, this would be the proper way to do it. At=
 least if you have two anchors -- which brings us back to the point of depar=
ture, that I wanted to get a second anchor...

I have really learned a lot from this discussion!



Again in favor of the sentinel.  Having a large anchor and a second smaller
and the infamous third 'lunch hook' is a standard in my book.  But when the
weather turns bad I want as much over kill as I can get.  The sentinel goes
down and lends a great purchase to the anchors down below and if I were to
have to pull up larger anchors and or chain in deep moorages by hand.  Well,
still I like to keep one on board for extra security.  By the way it makes a
great dinghy anchor also.


Well, to be quite truthfull, I have 2 kellets on board /(inherited from the PO) but still have to use them.... (as is the case with my storm sails). I think there´s a difference of opinion here between US and European sailors. These last ones will more easily go to all chain on their boats while US sailors will go for all rode (with a symbolic 6 ft of chain). I´m sort of in between with my 50 ft of chain which will mean that I´m almost always on chain (in depths up to 10 ft which is where I mostly anchor). But I wouldn´t stay in a crowded anchorage if bad weather is looming; Pampero may hold well, buit what about the other boats....?