September 18, 2006

Testing a Bulwagga Anchor

We tried to purchase a Spade anchor before we left, but there was an eight-week wait for the size we needed. We then checked into the Rocna anchor, which looks a lot like the Spade, and there was also a wait. So, I decided to try a Bulwagga anchor, which is made in upstate New York, near our home town of Saratoga.

The Bulwagga looks like a grappling hook with blades instead of prongs. No matter how it falls, at least two of the sharp blades penetrate the bottom quickly. We first tried it in Cuttyhunk Pond, Massachusetts. The bottom there is very weedy and notorious for not holding well, but the Bulwagga bit right in.

However, the first real test was in the cold front that swept through Block Island. As frequently seems to happen, the frontal passage was at night, so we experienced the sudden shift from westerly winds to northwest and then northeast in the pitch black. Several boats dragged away in gusts up around 30 knots, but the Bulwagga held and held well. No problems so far.

We then swung around and around our Bulwagga for several weeks in the soupy mud of Spa Creek in Annapolis. No problem.

ICW anchorages tend to have sticky mud, so they aren't much of a test of anchoring, but we did encounter one little problem in Georgia. We were anchored just south of Thunderbolt in the Herb River. Overnight the current switched several times and in the morning our Bulwagga came up fouled by the anchor chain that had wedged under one of the blades. However, the anchor had held us despite being fouled.

So far, in more than a year of almost continuous cruising, that is the only time we've had a problem with the Bulwagga. Subsequently, I usually use a second anchor in a Bahamian moor if I'm worried about reversing winds or currents. The Bulwagga has held us in winds up to 56 knots or so, in areas where other boats with other anchors have dragged.

I don't find the anchor hard to handle as we just leave it on the roller. I have to adjust its position a bit to get it to seat snugly on the roller, but that's about the extent of any hassle. You do have to be careful not to get your fingers pinched when manhandling the anchor as there are moving parts.

I like the Bulwagga, and most importantly it has held our boat safe and sound.