Anchors Aweigh - The Bruce Anchor

Anchors Aweigh – An Anchor Called Bruce

ASA’s Anchors Aweigh Series #2. The Bruce Anchor

Although Bruce isn’t as elegant and sophisticated a name as Danforth, it is certainly a tried and tested anchor design that many cruisers use as their go-to hook. Unlike the Danforth, a Bruce anchor doesn’t have any moving parts. It’s all one piece and for that reason it takes a knock from some for not being very storable. Although this simple one-piece construction makes for that particular detriment, it is also seen as a positive when it comes to the effectiveness of the design. If it’s affixed to a roller hanging off the bow then everything is fine, but if not, its awkward physique takes up a bit of room.  Assuming you find a nice little home for it, according to many cruisers, the Bruce digs in and sets nicely in a variety of conditions. Incidentally, the Bruce is often referred to as a “Bruce type” or “claw” anchor because the Bruce company went out of business in 2007.

Anchors Aweigh - The Bruce Anchor

This hearty piece of hardware was designed by Peter Bruce and came on the scene in the early 70s. Bruce took a page out of the playbook of what was holding down large oil rigs and drilling platforms and made an anchor that has permeated the recreational sailing scene for decades. The claw shape is formed in such a way that it sets quite well and quite consistently and is supposed to right itself as it lands on the bottom. It has a solid reputation for reliability even after a substantial wind change. They work well on semi-hard sand and rocky bottoms and some mud situations.

On the downside, Bruce anchors need to be a bit heavy to achieve the holding power that is asked of them and their design is capable of  being something of a “catch all” at times. Also, the prongs of these types of anchors are dull and don’t do so great in grass or clay environments.

That said, Bruce anchors are generally affordable and can be a perfect fit, depending on the types of conditions they will be performing in. Everywhere you go, you will see cruising boats with Bruces dangling from the bow and that definitely says something.

Anchors Aweigh Summary – The Bruce Anchor

PROsCONs
  • Affordability
  • Consistent grab in favored environments (sand, silt and rocks)
  • Self-righting design
  • Stays set during wind changes
  • Performs fairly well with limited scope
  • Can be cumbersome to store without a bow roller
  • Needs to be heavier and bigger than one might hope for
  • Does poorly in clay and other hard bottoms
  • Claw design can foul itself at times.
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Brenton Lochridge
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It is funny that this anchor just came up for discussion! Last week, the Bruce provided me with the most frustrating and disappointing eight days ever. I anchor approx. five days per week in the Virgin Islands over the winter months – primarily with the Delta plow and occasional “Danforth” lightweight/fluke-style anchor. I have never had a dragging incident in at least seven years due to the ideal anchoring conditions that the Virgin Islands can provide, but last week blew me away as the Bruce dragged at EVERY anchorage that I routinely visit. We had two professional captains/ASA instructors onboard,… Read more »