An anchor, a device, usually made of metal, used to connect the boat to the water’s bed in order to prevent the boat from drifting due to current or wind. The earliest anchors were probably made out of rock back during the Bronze Age and have evolved ever since.
Even though anchoring might seem like a very simple and graceful art, ask any experienced sailor to verify this presumption and they will be sure to confirm it is far from true. There is much more to consider in hurling heavy objects bound by rope overboard than the intrigued novice sailor might expect.
For instance, while a canoe might certainly resemble a pontoon in many ways, to approach their anchoring with the exact same approach, you would do so at your own peril. When you were in a canoe, all you would need to do is drop a small brick tied to the canoe into the water. One such brick would suffice in your efforts to keep you from drifting so that you could enjoy the stillness of the water—perfect conditions to find plenty of nibbling fish.
Throw that same canoeist—unaccustomed to the seas—into a large pontoon boat, however, and see for yourself how well he fares with the same approach to securing his spot in the water.
Large pontoon boats catch waves. The wind pushes them around. They rock. They drift far away far more easily. And most noteworthy, all have more weight to consider than that of a wooden canoe.
In addition, when you are picking which is right for you, you have to remember that days of classic looking anchors, also known as The Admiralty Pattern, that you are used to seeing on sailor’s shoulders or Popeye’s forearm are over.
No longer do you have to follow the rule of having a pound of anchor weight for every foot of boat. They design today’s anchors to be lite and efficient. Just follow manufacturers suggested size and you should be in good shape.
However, the downside of the efficiency is that they can’t be used universally.
Below are the most common anchor types used today and what I think is the best pontoon boat anchor.
Best Pontoon Boat Anchors Owners Need Consider
The first and most important notion to consider when learning this art is to remember that no anchor is a “one size fits all”. What this does not mean, however, is that there does not exist a specific anchor ideal for the waters you frequent.
Rest assured. This is not true.
What you are after is an anchor that repeatedly works well and reliably in the conditions where you usually boat.
Knowing me, I just had to do some digging to locate these treasures. Through my investigations, I was able to find countless recommendations from many different, seasoned pontoon boat captains. As it turns out, there are three anchors that you need ever bother with. One of them will undoubtedly be a match for the waters worthy of your ‘toon. And if you are looking for additional accessories, such as pontoon ladder, make sure you read my post about the Best and Safest Ladder for pontoon boats.
Option One – A Fluke Anchor (By Fortress)
Now, this beauty is one that works best in waters with a sand or gravel floor.
What is important to understand here is that the purpose of a Fluke style anchor is to enable its arms to dig, and claw, down into the sea floor, grabbing firmly and not letting go so that your pontoon boat does not drift whatsoever.
Such Fluke style anchors do not necessarily need to be incredibly heavy, either, which is a nice benefit. If you prioritize the aspects of portability and mobility whenever you choose to take on the water, be sure to consider this a plus.
In fact, a fifteen-pound Fluke-style anchor is often more than capable of even supporting a larger 30’ pontoon boat in calmer conditions. Likewise, it will prove just as useful should you find yourself in a 24’ pontoon boat in rough conditions.
Be sure to keep a few things in mind when selecting a Fluke style anchor, however.
First, choose your Fluke based on its size. This should be the primary consideration. Weight should only follow secondarily, as the surface area is what is at play here and is what makes it work. The wider it is, the more sea floor it can scrape.
The heavier it is, the more dock floor you can scrape.
The weight does very little in terms of actually holding the boat. Weight is only necessary for driving the arms of the anchor into the ground. It claws just deep enough for a tight hold. Therefore, if you find your pontoon boat in waters with muddy bottoms or clay bottoms, you may find that you do not really need as heavy of an anchor as you would if your pontoon boat was over sand.
Remember: sandy sea floors need more weight to drive their arms into.
Much like the characters in the tail-end of Orwell’s Animal Farm, not all anchors are equal. While a fluke-style anchor is, for the most part, a fairly generic product, this test proves that not all such anchors perform with the same level of success. The Fortress anchor, however, does appear to stand out even among other Fluke-style anchors with that extra bit of holding power.
Be sure to check out a Fluke Anchor (By Fortress) on Amazon.
Option Two – Box Anchor
Moving on, Box anchors work best in mud sporting light vegetation.
If you find yourself mostly steering through waters with muddy bottoms—lakes and rivers, for example—then you will hardly find a more suitable anchor than the Box anchor. Box anchors work by maximizing the amount of surface in contact with the mud itself in order to secure a firm hold.
As is essential with all anchors, it is paramount when dealing with Box anchors to ensure you have enough line drawn out before you drop in the anchor and let it sink. For instance, throw your anchor when your line is too short, and the arms will not have the correct angle necessary to dig into the ground.
If you do that, and you can forget about a steady, proper hold.
As a rule of thumb, you should have approximately five times’ as much line drawn out than the actual depth between you and the mud. In other words, if you were in 20 feet of water, it would be ideal to have at least a hundred feet of rope out before you toss the anchor overboard.
If I could only pick one out of all, it would be this Box anchor.
It very well crafted, and worthy of the many excellent reviews it receives. I personally find it to be the most reliable and sturdy in a variety of conditions, regardless of the sea floor.
See for yourself, Box Anchor on Amazon.
Option Three – Grapnel Style Anchor
Do you boat frequently by the rocky cliffs? No anchor yet? Have you come across the Grapnel style anchor. If you did, you would certainly have one by now.
Grapnel style anchor works best on a nice, hard, rocky bottom.
There is less flexibility and less room for forgiveness in dealing with solid, hard rock.
In many boating situations, you will frequently find yourself amidst mud, sand, and vegetation. In such environments, you will tend to notice that one anchor will do just fine in any one of these conditions.
Rocky bottoms, however, require specific anchors—and that is where the Grapnel shines.
It is true that some pontoon boat captains use a Fluke-style anchor on rock bottoms. They claim good results but beware. Your mileage will vary on this one. Many other captains have reported this decision ending poorly. So, when in doubt, just stick with the grapnel.
It could just be the difference between a humbled ego and a lost boat.
The good news, however, is that this type of anchor is usually quite inexpensive. You can also fold it up and store it neatly. You can store it either in your boat or at home, in a space-effective manner. That means if you are one who travels in many different waters, with different types of sea floors, it is probably your best bet to invest in at least two anchors—one of them necessarily being the Grapnel.
What is noteworthy about the Grapnel anchor is that it has four large arms, all reaching out to grab a firm hold of the rock below. Every Grapnel-style anchor will require a few feet of drift to find a firm hold on a rock. However, once set, it is safe to say it will be the most secure hold you will find from any anchor. Period.
Take a look at the Grapnel Style here.
Option Four – Delta Anchor
These anchors are very similar to a fluke in design. The difference is in the larger size of the outward surface.
This is a very popular choice for many reasons. Above all is the affordability factor. They are cheaper than some others mentioned above.
They have designed delta anchors to be used with different bottom surfaces. I know I said earlier that no anchor is universal but this one comes very close to it.
It grips sand, mud and even weeds.
I wish Delta grips to rocks too. That would be the best anchor out there.
Check out Delta Anchor on Amazon.
There are some other types of anchors like Mushroom anchor and Stockless anchor. But I am not going to get into those. Those types of anchors do not apply to a type of boat that I prefer.
Which Is The Best Pontoon Boat Anchor For You?
The answer here is not which anchor is the best, but rather which anchor fits your needs best.
I usually buy two of everything, just to make sure I have a reserve in case of malfunction. I took that same approach with anchors but I decided to buy 2 different anchors. The reason why is that I have access to rivers, lakes and the ocean.
When I first started boating I wanted to make sure I knew what I was doing before going out on the ocean. So, I started with the lake. I did not like the anchor that came with the boat so I decided to buy Delta Anchor.
After a few weekends on the lake, I decided to move to the river and find my way out into the ocean. For that purpose, I bought Grapnel Style Anchor.
For my needs, these two anchors are perfect. It is up to you what you think is the best pontoon boat anchor and which will work best for you. Hopefully the choices I listed above will be more than satisfactory.
Know Well the Dangers of Anchoring
This next bit is undeniably common sense, but it is worth repeating nonetheless.
As a sailor, you need to know your environment, and you need to know it well. Different waters necessitate different approaches to anchoring—especially given that it is a matter of safety.
Anchoring is not an inherently dangerous activity, it is very much the opposite. But you need to have the knowledge and the equipment. Even if you had the best pontoon boat anchor in the world, it is not going to help you if you don’t know how to use it properly.
There is always a need for caution when boating, so be careful out there.
The selection of proper gear and proper application can literally be the difference between life and death. More often than not, these are amateur mistakes.
Know which ones are best utilized in which waters and most suitable for your own boating habits and conditions. Boating is one of the most exhilarating recreational activities man has ever known. Do not let something so easily avoidable as mindless anchoring take that away from you.
Master the art of anchoring today.