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William Falconer's Dictionary of the MarineReference Works
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ABACK to ADMIRAL of the fleet



ALL bands high to ANCHOR
ALL bands high
To lay ALONG-side

To drag the ANCHORS to To fish the ANCHOR

To sheer the ship to her ANCHOR to Top-ARMOUR




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ANCHOR (ancre, Fr. anchora, Lat. From αγχυζα ) a heavy, strong, crooked instrument of iron, dropped from a ship into the bottom of the water, to retain her in a convenient station in a harbor, road, or river.

The most ancient anchors are laid to have been of stone, and sometimes of wood, to which a great quantity of lead was usually fixed. In some places baskets full of stones, and sacks filled with sand, were employed for the same use. All these were let down by cords into the sea, and by their weight stayed the course of the ship. Afterwards they were composed of iron, and furnished with teeth, which, being fastened to the bottom of the sea, preserved the vessel immoveable; whence δζολεσ and dentes are frequently taken for anchors in the Greek and Latin poets. At first there was only one tooth, whence anchors were called ετεροσομοτ but in a short time the second was added by Eupalamus, or Anacharsis, the scythian philosopher. The anchors with two teeth were called αμφισολοτ or αμφισομοι and from ancient monuments appear to have been much the same with those used in our days, only the transverse piece of wood upon their handles (the stocks) is wanting in all of them. Every ship had several anchors, one of which, surpassing all the rest in bigness and strength, was peculiarly termed [greek font] or sacra, and was never used but in extreme danger; whence sacram anchoram solvere is proverbially applied to such as are forced to their last refuge. Potter's Antiquities of Greece.

The anchors now made are contrived so as to sink into the ground as soon as they reach it, and to hold a great strain before they can be loosened or dislodged from their station. They are composed of a thank, a stock, a ring, and two arms with their flukes. The stock, which is a long piece of timber fixed across the thank, serves to guide the flukes in a direction perpendicular to the surface of the ground; so that one of them sinks into it by its own weight as soon as it falls, and is still preserved steadily in that position by the stock, which, together with the thank, lies flat on the bottom. In this situation it must necessarily sustain a great effort before it can be dragged through the earth horizontally. Indeed this can only be effected by the violence of the wind or tide, or of both of them, sometimes increased by the turbulence of the sea, and acting upon the ship so as to stretch the cable to it's utmost tension, which accordingly may dislodge the anchor from its bed, especially if the ground be soft and oozy or rocky. When the anchor is thus displaced, it is said, in the sea phrase, to come home.

That the figure of this useful instrument may be more clearly understood, let us suppose a long massy beam of iron erected perpendicularly, Plate I. fig. 2. b c; at the lower end of which are two arms, d e, of equal thickness with the beam (usually called the shank) only that they taper towards the points, which are elevated above the horizontal plane at an angle of thirty degrees; or inclined to the shank at an angle of sixty degrees: on the upper part of each arm (in this position) is a fluke, or thick plate of iron, g b, commonly shaped like an isosceles triangle, whose base reaches inwards to the middle of the arm. On the upper end of the shank is fixed the stock transversely with the flukes: the stock is a long beam of oak, f, in two parts, strongly bolted, and hooped together with iron rings. See also fig. 3. Close above the stock is the ring, a, to which the cable is fastened, or bent: the ring is curiously covered with a number of pieces of short rope, which are twisted about it so as to form a very thick texture or covering, called the puddening, and used to preserve the cable from being fretted or chafed by the iron.

Every ship has, or ought to have, three principal anchors, with a cable to each, viz. the sheet, maitresse-ancre (which is the anchora facra of the ancients) the belt bower, second ancre, and small bower, ancre d'affourche, so called from their usual situation on the ship's bows. There are besides smaller anchors, for removing a ship from place to place in a harbour or river, where there may not be room or wind for sailing; these are the stream anchor, ancre de toui; the kedge and grappling, grapin: this last, however, is chiefly designed for boats.

Plate 1

Plate I

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© Derived from Thomas Cadell's new corrected edition, London: 1780, page 8, 2004
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