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Manson - making anchoring safer for you

by Richard Gladwell on 4 Jun 2009
Looks idyllic, doesn’t it? But in other circumstances your anchor could be the last line of defence for you and your family’s boat. Sail-World.com /AUS © http://www.sail-world.com

My father has cruised the Hauraki Gulf for some 70 years. His theory on anchors was that you needed only about 10ft of chain on an anchor – as any more made it too heavy to retrieve.

Yes, he got away with it a lot of the time. But as soon as the wind came up – day or night – he was off. Dragging through the bay. Dad was adept at recovery, and was the first to set a second anchor. Meanwhile the rest of the family all had bets as to when he would take off on yet another tour of the bay.

I relate this story to Ned Wood, Vice President of Manson Anchors. His eyes roll. He's heard it all before,

'People don't seem realise that an anchor is a safety device', he says. 'They put it out and hope it holds. Often it is all that lies between them and losing their boat.'

'No different from a lifejacket', he adds.

Wood makes good point.

Anchors have two uses - the most frequent is to give safe holding in your favored bay or fishing spot. The other is your last line of defence when all else has failed and you have to stop your boat drifting, maybe onto nearby rocks, until help arrives.

The back page of the Manson brochure has an anchoring chart on it – setting out the boat length, anchor weight, chain size and warp length for a given size of boat in a given wind strength.

It's very interesting. The sort of thing that would have given my mother many more restful nights, while anchored in iffy weather conditions.

Feedback from sailors, particularly those who have cruised to some rather remote locations is testament to both the quality of the Manson product and the reliance sailors place in their anchor.

'We have recently returned from a five month cruise of Stewart Island and Fiordland' says Marty Vose of the yacht 'Makani'. 'Not once did our Manson Anchor let us down. We even spent a night anchored off Nugget Point on the east coast of Southland with winds in excess of 70 knots and whilst we did maintain an anchor watch all night it was not needed as we did not move an inch.'

'I was concerned that perhaps the 50lb may have been a bit light for my yacht which is 41 feet and weighs 17 tons but after that trip plus a Marlborough Sounds trip before that, I confess I am totally sold on your anchors and would not hesitate to recommend them to anyone.'


Small beginnings

Manson Anchors was founded by Kerry Mair in 1972, after the former foreman at A & G Price decided to make an anchor for his own boat. The private job soon became a serious business.

Manson Anchors built their first Superyacht anchor in the 1980’s, for Sensation, and that set the West Auckland firm down the path of certification.


Lloyds Register certification is now at the heart of the business.

New Zealand sailing fans from the 'Plastic Fantastic' 12 Metre era will be familiar with the service offered by Lloyds Register. At the Marten Marine and McMullen and Wing yards, the 12 metres were constructed under the eagle eye of a LR surveyor, Jamie Course. His task was to certify the construction process and materials that went into the construction of the revolutionary fibreglass 12 metres, the first that had ever been built.

That certification was later used to refute the many claims and challenges from Dennis Conner and friends, that were made in the 1986/87 Louis Vuitton Cup in Fremantle, when KZ-7 made the Challenger Final after winning no less than 38 races on the trot.

So it is with anchors. Every Manson anchor is built to Lloyds Register specification – that includes many elements: the design itself; the materials used must come from approved mills; the weld specification must be approved; and the individual welders must also hold the requisite LR certification.

Anchors weighing more than 56kg must be individually tested in a special test bed at the Manson facility and the holding witnessed by a Lloyds Register surveyor.

'It is quite a different process from ISO certification', Ned Wood points out. 'Each and every anchor we make has to achieve Lloyds Register certification. Anchors are safety devices, and owners should look for the marks that give confidence in the product they are going to use with their boats which are often worth in the hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars. '

From tinnies to superyachts

Following that first anchor built by Kerry Mair in 1972, Manson Anchors have expanded into a full range of five anchors, used by everything from a 3 metre tinnie to Superyachts over 140 metres long.

Since the initial Danforth, another four anchors have been added to the range. The Plough was introduced in the late 1970's, followed by the Kedge in 1985, the Ray in 1998 and the Supreme in 2004. Three more will soon follow, the Ultimus, Hidden and Racer are either being launched or will be in the next month.

Along the way the company also formed an engineering division, which was responsible for much of the marina dock construction around Auckland including Bayswater Marina and the Viaduct Harbour. In 2004, the engineering business was split away from anchoring division – in turn purchased by the second generation. Steve Mair, is now managing director of Manson Anchors

Although Manson only have a small percentage of the Superyacht market at present, their market share is growing because of their commitment to fine design and engineering, and the Lloyds Register certification process.

'With the http://manson-marine.co.nz/SitePages/Supreme.htm!Supreme, for instance, it is geometrically reliant on high tensile steel to stop the shaft from bending,' says Wood. 'If an anchor were produced (or copied) to that design without the use of high quality materials, it would fail – and probably at a time when you least need an anchor failure.'

A Supreme story: 'We've been cruising the Caribbean for many years now. The last seven years we've been live aboards. As with most sailors we started long ago with the 'State of the Art' Danforth anchor. It was a decent anchor but not good for all sea bottoms. In mud or soft sand it would slide out rather easily. We eventually graduated to the CQR.

'Good holding but man could it hurt your fingers if they got in the way of the swivel head. It took lot's of experience and patience to properly set it. However once set it tended to stay put. For our next and of course larger boat we went to the newly designed Bruce anchor as a primary. Once again a very decent anchor but you were never quit certain where you would wind up in setting it. As time went on we added the new fangled Delta. The combo was excellent but a lot of work especially if you were in an anchorage that tended to have currents that caused you to make 360s.

'Up until this October were very contented with our Delta and all chain. When time and rust compelled us to buy a new anchor we took a chance on your very strange looking Manson Supreme. At the Annapolis Boat Show we watched a demonstration of how well it set.........'instantly'! My wife, the Admiral loved dropping the stainless Steel model and setting it in the long demonstration sandbox.

'End of story, we bought the 60 lbs. version and have been cruising with it since early November. It's great! It sets immediately in almost seabeds and stays put even in very stiff blows. It fit very well on our anchor roller and drops with ease.

'Aside from it being the best anchor we've ever had aboard there are two small problems. The Supreme sets so fast and securely you can get whiplash when the boat just stops as the Manson digs in. We really love that though.

'Secondly, in crowded anchorages I need to be on the look out for anyone anchoring above our anchor. This anchor can not be pulled out from the side or easily on VERY short scope. I've taken to usin

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