Getting Nauti on the Sea Floor With a History of Anchoring!
OK, so in two short weeks we’ve referenced this nautical icon twice on this blog and have yet to give it the air-time it deserves as both an “icon” and an indispensable tool in relation to most things nautical.
And, given that we know many of the nautical scallywags and reprobates who are likely reading our Getting Nauti blog, the answer is “No!” Put your mug or shot glass away because we are not profiling another choice maritime drink for you to go out and get pickled on.
No, for today’s blog we are profiling the humble anchor. And why not, as we teased you with it prior to discussing the ever-so-important ship’s wheel in our Feb. 10 blog—Getting Nauti With Nautical Icons and History—and told you to “forget about” the anchor in our Jan. 29 blog—Forget the Anchor—Use a Ship-in-Bottle to “Refuse to Sink.”
Yeah…that “forget the anchor” may have been a bit short-sighted on our part considering the important role it plays in our Getting Nauti lines of clothing and jewelry. You know, prominently featured on our “Explore” line of clothing, not to mention a key component of our various men’s and women’s “Anchor” designs….
Well, whether out boating or just checking out our cool clothing and jewelry, “don’t forget the anchor!”
And to help you in your recollection of the anchor when so ever needed, and as part of our continuing effort to boost your nautical acumen, we now present you with a brief primer on the history of the anchor:
The founder of the anchor was…well, is, long forgotten to history. Chances are, though, that the discovery was in some way related to an early boat maker who discovered that his prized new invention didn’t just sit around waiting for him when left unattended.
It may seems like a lack of common sense to us, but just remember that common sense evolves out of trial and error and that the “error” component of this equation tends to predominate.
So, can you guess what the first anchors were made of?
Yeah, no! Iron probably didn’t come onto the anchor scene for a few thousand years.
We’re talking pre-4th Millennium BC. Before the Bronze Age. Probably back to the age of Fred Flintstone. And that my friends was a big hint, and if you don’t get that one, then you were either born in this century or just dense as a….
Bingo! Those early anchors were rocks tied to whatever passed for (horsehair, vines, etc.) rope in those days, and the earliest anchors known to recorded history were basically just rocks as found dating from the bronze age.
And no, we don’t know why they didn’t use bronze anchors during the bronze age, but would surmise it was because the metal was too light.
Anyhow, mankind played around with rock anchor configurations for thousands of years—using more than one, putting them in baskets, etc.—but the biggest limitation to rock anchoring effectiveness was that it relied purely on “mass” to resist the forces of waves, tides, storms, wind and the weight of the boat to keep that boat from moving. And carrying a really big rock on board limited cargo carrying capacity, and likely proved rather problematic when rolling about in big stormy seas.
At some point in history, someone discovered that adding teeth, or “flukes,” that could grab at whatever was on the seabed could better hold the rock(s) in place, and, not only keep the boat from going adrift, but lower the weight of rocks needed to keep the boat in place. Early Irish mariners devised what is known as a Killick, which involved wrapping a wooden, teethed brace around a rock or rocks. The Killick was used for thousands of years and remains an effective go-to rudimentary anchor for mariners of limited means.
Meanwhile, at some point during the iron age, someone invented the anchor with which we are so familiar with today, and which is one of the anchor designs featured among our clothing and jewelry lines. This anchor is known as the “admiralty pattern” or “fisherman” anchor, and, not only is the iron significantly heavier than rock, but its design forces one of the flukes to grab into the seabed.
This anchor design was improved upon in the early 1800s, with the adaption of a hinge to force the fluke into the seabed. And while the holding power to weight ratio was significantly lower than that of the admiralty anchor, it’s lower weight and ease of stowing and handling brought about its universal adoption and it is still very much in use today.
Of course, the 1800s had nothing over the 20th Century, so you can pretty much go into Walmart today and choose from 20-some different anchor designs. And now that we’re in the 21st Century, someone is bound to come up with an effective app that will soon make those old school anchoring designs obsolete.