Raving About Our Rocna

rocna1Visit any online sailing forum and there is one subject that will rouse more furious debate than any other subject known to man, beast or Poseidon: anchors. Already I sense the temperature rise as our sailing comrades read that word, so I’ll shout it out a second time: ANCHORS! Sounds like a swearword, doesn’t it? In some parts of the world it is a swearword. At the very least it’s an excuse to start verbal warfare on anyone who dares ask the question “what is the best anchor”?

We had a  bit of cash to spend on an anchor last year and we spent months researching the subject. Finally we opted for a Rocna due to its success in various sailing magazine bench tests. We struck up a dialogue with its designer, Peter Smith, an honest man who requested that we be honest too should we write an article on our experiences of it.

Here, then, is our initial review. It is not a comparison of various different anchor designs; neither is it a recommendation on what the best anchor is on the market. Instead we are documenting our personal experience of a Rocna and comparing it with our old anchor, a CQR.

After receiving our Rocna 33 we dropped the hook in Fethiye Bay in November 2008 and didn’t move until April 2009. Actually, I lie, we did do a visa run to Rhodes at Christmas but essentially that anchor was stuck in the mud for six months. And thank God it was. Do you remember that video clip of the Marmaris storms? It saw us through those same  gale force winds.

An anchor, then, is all about holding power. We were down the coast when the 70+ knot winds whipped through Marmaris and we were seeing gusts of up to 60 knots in Fethiye. It’s worth noting that  over the winter Esper’s stern was tied to a jetty; we had deployed a second anchor 90 degrees off the bow; the holding in Fethiye is notoriously sticky; and there is little fetch. This should help put our initial comments in perspective. Our experience of our Rocna so far then is based upon the six months we spent in the same spot under these conditions, plus the few times we anchored in various bays over night, and our time now anchored in the middle of Fethiye bay, where it has been pouring with rain!

rocna2One thing Craig warned us of was how quickly the anchor sets. The recommendation is to drop back slowly rather than whacking the boat into astern at 2,000rpm. Do all this gently and there is no need to twang the boat around the anchorage, ripping the windlass out the bow as your crew run round sighting transits. I have to say I was amazed how quickly this thing bites. We took Craig’s advice and barely went beyond tick-over (enough to get some steerage in astern). With Liz at the helm, dropping the boat back into neutral I could see the chain had straightened very quickly and the boat was traveling forwards, indicating that the anchor had successfully bitten. “I love this anchor!”, Liz shouted across the deck when we last dropped our Rocna, from where I pen this article.

Although I’m not here to write about anchoring technique I should make it clear how much easier it is to set the Rocna compared to our previous CQR. The latter is not called a plough for nothing as it furrows some way before it bites. I check my anchor most times by diving down to it with snorkel and mask and the CQR was often preceded by a 10m gash of sand, which would explain why the boat continued to travel backwards after our required scope had been deployed. Not any more. That Rocna hits the seabed, sets immediately and the whole thing is over before the skipper can holler “get the beers”.

Initially we are very impressed and encouraged by the Rocna

The fact we’ve been hanging off our Rocna for months on end is encouraging. The bay in which we currently reside sees afternoon gusts of around 15-20 knots and we no longer bother with the second anchor. We’re sitting pretty on 45m chain in 10m of water and that Rocna hasn’t budged. Of course we could be doing the same with the CQR but knowing how quickly that Rocna set I just feel more comfortable on the Rocna. (It’s worth noting that for three of those six months tied to the jetty we had but 25m of chain out in 10m of water, which possibly indicates how settled that anchor was once set.)

One of the bench test results that persuaded us to go for a Rocna

One of the bench test results that persuaded us to go for a Rocna

I was initially bothered by the shape of the Rocna’s shank. It is more square than the rounded design of the CQR and I did have some problems getting the Rocna back over the bow when weighing for the first time. Fortunately this problem was short-lived as it just required a slight change to our weighing technique. Also Craig was quick to respond by directing us to a page on the Rocna website that gives suggestions on improved bow roller designs. We may consider this at a later date but our Quick windlass, rated at 800w with a 60a circuit breaker, copes with the 33kg Rocna using this alternative technique. The new technique, by the way, is to stop bringing up the chain when the anchor has just reached the water’s surface and pause for a few seconds to give the batteries a rest before bringing up the last couple of metres. This creates enough momentum to get the anchor over the bow and back home comfortably.

We will be spending the summer in various bays around the Lycian and Carian coasts of Turkey and will continue to use the Rocna as our primary anchor. More importantly we’ll return at the end of the season and give you a low-down on how it performed and perhaps offer some really qualified pros and cons.

Initially, though, we are impressed. Very impressed. If there is one standard by which to measure a good anchor then it must surely be the question ‘can I sleep tonight as all hell breaks loose around me’? The Rocna, so far, has certainly ticked that box.

A Rocna close-up

A Rocna close-up

Finally I conclude with a comment on old versus new anchor designs. It was only 18 months ago that I was caught up in a debate, describing how happy I was with my CQR. Someone responded “The CQR may work for you but don’t think anchor technology hasn’t moved on. These new generation anchors are designed differently for a reason: they work better”. As a liveaboard on a budget there are many things I can compromise on. I can live with our 20 year old sails whilst monitoring the wind on 15 year old instruments, but I couldn’t settle for anything other than the best anchor. We went out and bought the best we could afford and that meant moving from the 80 year old design of the CQR to a new generation Rocna. Somehow I don’t think we’ll be looking back.


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18 Comments on “Raving About Our Rocna”

  1. Our CQR now sits in the lazarette, ready to be deployed as a second anchor, should we need it. In fact I would say it’s a little too big as a second anchor; we actually have a smaller CQR for that job. As a liveaboard I’m sure you understand, Roger, that we hate getting rid of old anchors. The day I dispose of the CQR will be the day I foul the Rocna on a wreck and lose it in 20m of water!

  2. You’d then borrow a dive tank, and get it that way. A liveaboard’s anchor is a miser’s money. You never let it go! (and sincerly hope it doesn’t!)

  3. That came across as a pretty sensible assessment of the Rocna and the appropriate anchoring technique.
    We are still using our genuine Bruce anchor and are fairly happy. As with the Rocna the technique seems all important and gently, gently seems to be the way with the Bruce.I daresay that when it comes to a panic situation I may well utter the immortal words…..”I wish I had a Rocna!!!”

  4. Although I must say that the Rocna anchor is one of the good “New Gen” anchor, I have to disagree with some of your comments, mostly with this one:

    [quote]“we opted for a Rocna due to its success in various sailing magazine bench tests” [/quote]

    Which bench test?? Up to my knowledge, it has only been 3 sailing magazine bench tests:
    – The first one done by the US sailing magazine “Practical Sailor” (April 2006) and the Rocna didn’t perform that well… the 28 lbs Rocna was behind the 16 lbs Spade, the Super Max, the XYZ, the Hydrobubble, the Sarca and the Bulwagga anchor. (best choice was the XYZ anchor)
    – The second one, by the US magazine “SAIL” (Dec 2006) with the collaboration of West Marine – This test has also been published by Yachting Monthly , and, if the Rocna did perform well, the clear winner was the Hydrobubble anchor, not the Rocna
    – The third one, again performed by “Practical Sailor” in Nov 2008, “Heavyweight Anchor Test World Cruiser” comparing the Manson Supreme, the Manson Ray and the Rocna, and the winner was the Manson Ray anchor !

    This will lead me to your second comment: [quote] “, Craig Rocna, an honest man” [/quote]

    The curve you published in your blog, showing the Rocna in the first position, has NEVER been published by Sail magazine, it’s a FAKE interpretation modified by Rocna.
    Here is the non modified holding curve as published by SAIL magazine:

    The fact that the Rocna anchor has been the first in this test does only exist in the mind of Craig, and as it has taut this fact in nearly all forum (where he is not excluded) a lot of sailors believe it!

    Then I have to congratulate you for your choice. Yes the Rocna is one of the good “New Gen” anchor, and you will not be disappointed, but I don’t believe it is THE BEST!!!………..

  5. I should point out to our readers that João represents one of the rival anchor manufacturers to the Rocna, so read with caution. It is a very good example of the heated debate one reads in sailing forums. That’s not to belittle what he is saying: on the serious topic of anchors such discussion should be encouraged.

    We do welcome your comments, João, though I should point out that the introduction of our article explicitly states that it is not an essay on which anchor is best. At no point in the wording did we ever say the Rocna was the best. Due to the grey area of anchor testing, and the fact I have not tested all anchors on the market, I would never be so bold as to make such a statement.

    I should point out that Rocna has been benchtested in far more magazines than you suggest. The magazines you allude to are American. The Rocna was certainly profiled in Yachting Monthly and Practical Boat Owner, amongst others.

    Having said this it’s worth bearing in mind that tests and professional opinions from ‘those in the industry’ is one thing, and anchor manufacturers battling it out on paper is another, but ultimately the person with the most qualified argument as to an anchor’s validity must surely be the person who is using it on a daily basis, i.e. liveaboards like us.

  6. going to try the Rocna 15 on my 31′ Pursuit outboard. If I can get it to work with my bow pulpit I am sure I’ll like it very much. Will use my Delta as a backup. I’ve spent a ton of time reading about the various anchor options and unless there is an incredible conspiracy to deceive – just kidding – the Rocna sounds like the way to go. By the way, the stainless steel version of the Rocna 15 retails at $2,550, fully 5 times the galvanized version.

  7. Alain Poiraud (aka João), formerly of Spade anchors now selling his new Brazilian anchor, goes to more and more remarkable lengths to pull the wool over the eyes of boaters.

    Without going into labored detail, it remains the case that West Marine’s 2006 testing (written up by three different publications in the US and UK, to varying degrees of journalistic and analytical quality) is the only credible independent anchor testing of recent years. Practical Sailor have done nothing of their own concerning anchors for nearly a decade – Powerboat Reports’ republished test, pulling anchors once each in the same specific area of mud as the former contender, at a marina in Florida, is much more noise than signal. Their latest review is rewritten opinion sent in by an American cruising/writing couple with no means of conducting any meaningful controlled testing.

    There is more about West Marine’s testing here: http://www.rocna.com/kb/Independent_testing

    This being the internet, the facts, beyond the distortions, out-of-context quips, and occasional outright falsifications from Alain, are only a click and a bit of critical reading away. Here’s to confidence the reader is intelligent enough to judge for themselves.

  8. I have aq 25 rocna and can say with certainty it is the best anchor I have used. I have a 22kg bruce, a 22kg cqr and a small fortress and I am very impressed with the rocna’s performance. If there is a better design out there for all around good.. I just haven’y used it.

  9. I purchased the Rocna 33 for my Hunter 450 thanks in part to your posting. Spent 45 days at anchor, and on the third day was hit by a surprise gale 45+ mph winds and waves coming at me from two sides. The rocna anchor held firm over the 18 hours that I was basically trapped on board. Now, I have no worries leaving the boat moored with the Rocna and heading ashore for sometimes 24 hours at a time. Purchased the Rocna primarily because of the 180 degree daily wind shifts off the southern California coast & not knowing when the 65 mph+ Santa Ana winds will kick up. However, one does need to be mindful of the bottom conditions, as even the Rocna has trouble digging fully into a grassy/weedy bottom. It won’t drag, but it will slowly creep in high winds as if only the tip is actually set.

    1. Hi Ken. That’s really encouraging to read. Yes, weed is always a problem and the only anchor I know that really works for weed is a fisherman’s. All the gulets in Turkey carry folding fisherman’s for exactly that reason. Stupidly I did not purchase one when I was in Turkey but we do tend to avoid weed if we can. Not always possible, granted, and I’m glad to hear that the Rocna does something. Our old CQR wouldn’t do a thing in weed.

  10. I posted on May 19, 2009 that I was going to try the Rocna on my 31′ Pursuit. I bought the Rocna 15 stainless version, and love it. I have it on 35′ of chain. Got it fouled on a wreck (my bad) and had to cut the line. SCUBA guy retrieved it. I added a Anchor Saver (http://www.anchorsaver.com/Anchor_Saver/Home.html) so now I’m happy as a clam. The Rocna is way, way better than any anchor I’ve used in the past. It’s great to have tested confindence in my anchor.

  11. This illustrates to our non-sailing readers the on-going storm that the subject of anchors festers amongst us cruisers, specifically the rivalry between anchor manufacturers and their supporters. I would like to reiterate that the comments posted on our blog are neither altered nor a reflection of our own views.

  12. We’ve used a Rocna 15kg (33lbs) for the last four seasons on our Seawind 1000 catamaran with great success. I bought it because my similarly sized CQR had a tendency to drag in good sand when the wind increased over 35 knots, and I could almost always make it drag even when properly set by putting both engines full power into reverse.

    Not so the Rocna. It sets very quickly and stays there. I just look for sand and sleep much better.

  13. Thanks for your site. It’s great! We just got a 435 notice that Rocna 25 meets the spec. Why did you go for Rocna 33? So we propose 25 + 60 m of 10mm chain. We would appreciate your view

  14. Thanks for the writeup. I have a CQR and get a similar plough furrow through the sand before it hooks. I think that the Roca 33 will do a fine job on my 36ft tricabin trawler.


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