The average boat traveler probably does not spend much time thinking about the vessel's anchor, but experienced mariners understand the importance of this essential piece of boating equipment.
Anchors - an early human invention
For almost as long as humans have walked the planet they have improvised floating crafts to navigate rivers, lakes and oceans. The invention of the anchor was an important step in man's quest to exert control over watery environments. Rocks, as you might expect, were initially used and then various advancements were made to create more effective and more sophisticated anchors. The Ancient Greeks are generally credited with having constructed an anchor design that closely resembles the anchor used today.,
Big ships require very big anchors
Large, modern ships use hydraulics to lower and raise their anchors, which is necessary given the colossal size of some of the anchors that they employ. As an example, the Jahre Viking was considered the world's largest ship with an anchor weighing in at a mighty 35 tons! This impressive example of a modern anchor can be found now in Hong Kong and has outlived her ship which was scrapped in 2010.
The Titanic's anchors
The Titanic is one of the most famous ships ever built and its lasting fame is, of course, due to a tragic accident on her maiden voyage in 1912. At the time, the ship's scale and design were considered state of the art; the ship was already recognized as something special even before its collision with an iceberg. The Titanic had three anchors that weighed in at 15 tons. Indeed, so large were they that it took 20 powerful shire horses to pull each anchor to the shipyard.
Heavy isn't always best
Large ships often have very heavy anchors but research has proven that heavy isn't always best when it comes to designing effective anchors. Tests conducted by the US Navy have shown that the best holding anchors are often amongst the lightest. The ease of retrieving an anchor is often very important, so ship's captains want an anchor that will both hold the bottom and which can be hauled in without undue delay.
World's oldest anchor?
The remains of a wooden anchor, said to date to the end of the 7th Century B.C., has been discovered in Turkey, off the Aegean Sea. Israeli and Turkish archeologists have been working on the find and have speculated that it might represent the world's oldest wooden anchor. It also appears that the anchor came to its final resting place after an earthquake, or other natural disaster, caused an ancient port to slide into the sea.