Anchor rollers

I like walking around marinas, there’s just so much to see and reflect on. As I stroll around I tend to settle on a theme for the day: Drooping spreaders, types of bow or stern, cockpit covers or whatever springs to mind on that particular day.

On a recent recce I was focused on bow rollers. It occurred to me that one of the things that distinguishes a proper cruising boat from a marina-hopper is the way her ground tackle is managed. 

A serious cruising boat will have a proper anchor handling set up including an anchor locker, anchor winch and a bow roller. Trying to deploy and retrieve your anchor on a regular basis without the right system makes this essential task a frustrating chore.

I’ve talked before about anchor winches, windlasses and capstans so let’s take a look at anchor, or bow, rollers.

The anchor roller shares the pointy end of the boat with the forestay chainplate, pulpit bases and rollerfurling drum so it needs to be well engineered to avoid conflict with these other essential bits of kit. Occasionally you find the boat builder has provided a combination stem head fitting that incorporates the roller and full marks to them for this. Most boats don’t have this luxury and the cruising sailor has to retrofit one of the many proprietary anchor rollers available.

On Adriana we had hanked-on sails so no furling drum to get in the way of a hefty single roller bolted through the foredeck. The cheekplates were smooth edged and deep enough to keep the anchor from sliding off the roller. It worked a treat. 

I like to stow the anchor on the anchor roller ready to deploy with minimal delay. On Adriana we could only stow one anchor ready for action so I’d still have to lug the second anchor from the lazarette when required, but at least we could do that while we were secure on the main bower. On our bigger ketch we had the luxury of a bow sprit and a substantial bow platform that accommodated our two big CQRs easily, as is the case with the boat in the picture.

Take a critical look at you anchor management system – it can make anchoring a joy when it’s right, a nightmare when it’s wrong.