Mackinaw City Historical Pathway
Anchors and their retrieval
Functions of an anchor
- gain a hold on the bottom
- provide sufficient power to keep the boat from dragging away
- maintain its hold in changing wind conditions
The anchor in this park consists of a long steel shank with a cross-arm near the top called a stock. At the bottom of the shank are two arms positioned perpendicular to the stock and tipped with pointed flukes. When the anchor is dropped into the lake, the stock falls flat. This assures that one of the flukes is pointed into the bottom, giving it a good chance to dig in.
This massive anchor is good for all types of lake bottoms: rock, mud, or sand. The disadvantages are: it is unwieldy, difficult to stow on deck, and prone to fouling when wind and current change.
Although this type of anchor was used for centuries, we seldom see it used today. Today's stockless anchor has less holding power per weight but is far easier to use.
Originally this anchor had a wooden stock but the wood rotted away. Someone valued the steel portion of the anchor and added a new, more durable stock. This anchor was donated to Mackinaw City by Dick Moehl.
Capstan for pulling up the anchor
The capstan in this park is the remnant of a vital piece of equipment
used to haul in a heavy anchor. It is a hand-pushed vertical winch.
The anchor line, whether rope or chain, was wound around the barrel until it caught on itself. Then men walked around the barrel pushing wooden levers to pull the line and anchor up to the deck. The wooden levers were removable and the numerous pigeonholes allowed for the assignment of the appropriate number of men based on the difficulty of the work.
Gearing below deck could be set so the capstan could not slip back.