ANCHOR TESTING – in Bocas Del Toro, Panama

posted in: ANCHOR DESIGN, Boat Anchor, Testing | 0

We are always looking for good anchor testing grounds – someplace where the cruisers complain about poor setting and holding and where most tend to grab a mooring or a marina slip due to lack of confidence in anchorage.
So when an old friend and early customer, S/V Dreamboat, told us he was anchored in such a place, it made for a great reason to plan a visit.

anchor test - Dreamboat



    • Bocas Del Toro, Panama
    • Lat: 9° 19.953′ N
    • Long: 82° 14.764′ W
    • depth – 10 ft
    • seabed – hard-packed coral peebles mixed with sand
    • wind – mild breeze (~5kts)


    • 37-ft Hunter 376 with 2005 40-hp Yanmar engine
    • 90-ft G4 5/16″ chain
    • Anchors (lent by local cruisers, so selection was limited to those available):
      • 44-lb Bulwagga
      • 45-lb Mantus
      • 44-lb Manson Supreme
      • FX-37 Fortress (Aluminum 21-lb)
      • 35-lb CQR
      • 45-lb Hydrobubble
      • A140 Spade (Aluminum 41-lb)
      • 44-lb Bruce


    • Dreamboat was powered into position pointing into wind.
    • 90-ft of chain was let out and locked in place on the windlass.
    • All anchors were dropped into staging location on seabed and marked with buoy.
    • Testing scope 7:1 (3-feet freeboard)
    • Each anchor was attached / detached on the seabed so the chain length was never adjusted between pulls.
    • After attaching the anchor to the chain, Dreamboat backed-down on the anchor by first drifting, or in reverse idle, to take out the slack and once the chain tightened (started to show holding) then RPM was slowly increased, accelerating in reverse until the engine reached 2600 RPM and then held there for 10 seconds. (A standard anchoring technique for S/V Dreamboat)
    • While backing down, Franklin kept his hand on the chain to feel for “drag” or “set” and Greg filmed from seabed.
    • After the 10-second powered hold, Dreamboat was powered down to neutral, then driven forward upwind to staging position where the test anchor was detached and the new anchor was attached and test repeated.

Franklin being the impartal party and also Captain, was at the bow directing the test, Greg was in the water running the camera & setting up the anchors and Deneen was on helm

anchor test


Mantus – set immediately or within a couple feet; would slowly bury itself deeper as more throttle was applied

anchor testing Mantus

Bulwagga – set within a couple feet; not deep but held with full throttle

anchor test bulwagga

Manson Supreme – scooped up the top-soil, but could’t penetrate deeper; never set

anchor testing manson supreme

Fortress – blades tried grabbing, but could never hold; skipped across surface

anchor testing fortress

CQR – stayed on side and never even tried to grab; pivoting arm and large nose seemed disadvantageous in this situation.

anchor testing cqr
Hydrobubble – righted self and lightly grabbed a few times but couldn’t hold.

anchor testing hydrobubble
Spade – scooped up the top-soil, but could’t penetrate deeper; never set

anchor testing spade

Bruce – did a couple of set/skip, set/skip, then broke free under full throttle; from the bow and helm it felt like the Bruce set (albeit rather slowly), but the video and eyes on the ground showed otherwise.

anchor testing Bruce

The Mantus clearly outperformed it’s competition, setting quicker and deeper than all others as the following video shows.

12/16/2013 – Mantus Anchor at Bocas Del Toro, Panama vs Competition

No single test defines success in every soil condition, but we consistently see Mantus out-set other anchors in the most challenging bottoms.

Thank you to John on Bruadiar and Mike on Finistarre for use of their anchors and an extra special thank you to
Franklin on Dreamboat for the awesome accommodations, use of his boat, anchors, dinghy, and help with testing.