Parts of an Anchor and Its Windlass Arrangement

by | Last updated Nov 24, 2023 | Equipment, Ship Parts, Vessel Information | 0 comments

Anchors play an important role in a vessel. They are very crucial for the reason that ships with only a single anchor are unseaworthy to sail!

That’s why all the parts of an anchor must be in good condition. Not just the anchor itself but its chain, windlass, bitter end, and fittings.

As a seafarer, I know the importance of small problems leading to big problems. When we observe little things and do not take action about them, the bigger monster will come to haunt us.

This is true for the ship’s anchors. They may be used less frequently but their importance is critical.

The ship’s crew must know its specific components for accurate reporting if something happens to it or its parts.

Whenever a portion of an anchor or windlass arrangement needs replacement, knowing its correct name saves time, money, and headaches.

Parts of an Anchor

Due to its simplicity, there are only a few parts of an anchor whatever type they are. Here are the following. You can see the image below as a source of reference.

Crown/ Shackle – also called the Ring or “D” shackle because it looks like the letter D. The crown shackle connects the anchor through its shank to the chain.

Shank – the bar shaft of an anchor located at the center. It connects the “D” shackle to the lower part of the anchor.

Fluke/ Palm – the portion where it gets buried in the seabed. The fluke or palm is flatly shaped to maximize holding power.

Pea or Bill – is the tip-most portion of the anchor’s fluke. They dig or penetrate the seabed so the fluke gets buried.

Stock – a long bar near the crown that passes perpendicular to the shank. Looking from the top, the stock is also perpendicular to the Arm to ensure that one fluke is at a right angle to the seabed enabling it to dig itself to the ground. However, modern ships use stockless anchors nowadays.

Crown –  area of the anchor head found at the base of the shank between the tripping palms.

Arm or Tripping Palm – since modern anchors don’t have a stock, the part of a modern stockless anchor which tilts the fluke into the seabed is the tripping palm. Its name identifies itself. It trips the anchor so that the fluke is always positioned facing the ground.

An anchor lowered just above the water level with its parts written and identified.

The Anchor Chain

The chain is the connecting link between the ship and the anchor. It also serves as a shock absorber especially during swells while anchoring.

The length of the anchor chain is dependent on many factors such as varying meteorological conditions

One of the experienced master’s anchoring techniques during big swells and turbulent weather is increasing the chain’s scope.

The anchor chain also varies depending on the type of anchor used. However, the most common are the swivel, Kenter shackle, and the connecting links.

Anchor Link – smaller D shackle that connects the crown shackle to the anchor chain.

Swivel – a very important component of an anchor. A swivel prevents the anchor chain from fouling or twisting when the ship moves to its turning radius. Swivel also stops the anchor itself from flipping while holding on to the seafloor.

Common link – can either be studded link or open link. A Studded link is the chain of an anchor having a bar or stud at the center. An Open or studless link has no bar in the middle and is often used with larger shackles.

Enlarged Link – is a studded link bigger than a common link. It is installed as part of the swivel assembly- before and after the swivel itself.

End link – a studless link connecting the anchor link and the enlarged link or directly to the swivel.

Kenter Shackle – a type of joining shackle which connects two lengths of a cable. Installing Kenter shackles enable seafarers to identify the length of the anchor chain paid out to the water.

Not all anchors are created equal

If you’ve been sailing with different ships already, you may notice that some of the anchor components listed here are different than your previous ship.

What’s more, is that the shackles of the anchor chain in your vessel could be simpler.

This is because anchors and anchor chain arrangements are not built the same.

For example, many modern ships now utilize stockless bower anchors. This made them more efficient especially in storing inside the hawse pipes.

A ship's anchor lowered down in a shipyard while a crew stands on top of it holding the huge chain.
A ship’s anchor lowered down in a shipyard.

Anchor Windlass Arrangement 

The anchor windlass arrangement is a piece of heavy-duty machinery that heaves up and lowers the anchor cable.

It has various parts each having specific functions.

Hawse Pipe – stowage pipe of stockless anchor that also facilitates the run of chain cable when letting go and heaving up the anchor.

Guide Roller – a roller installed in front of the hawse pipe that leads the anchor chain to the gypsy wheel.

Brake – holds or stops the chain from paying out during anchoring. The anchor party normally uses the brake to control the velocity of the anchor chain from releasing too fast.

Chain Stopper – also called Bow Stopper, Cable Stopper, or Guillotine. The chain stopper holds the vessel to the chain. It prevents the chain from paying out when there is tension in the anchor chain.

Anchor Winch or Gypsy Wheel – this is different from mooring winches. The gypsy wheel has grooves called wild cats that lock on the chain during the heaving or lowering of the anchor.

Spurling Pipe – a vertical pipe that leads the anchor chain to the chain locker.

Chain Locker – a compartment used to stow the anchor chains. Each anchor has its own chain locker. The chain locker is also where we can find the bitter end.

Bitter End – the end of the ship’s anchor chain that connects to a quick-release securing arrangement. The bitter end indicates that there is no more chain to pay out. If you understand the word “bollard” or “bitt”, then you will know the correct meaning of the maritime term bitter end.

Anchor Lashings – are a combination of turnbuckles, shackles, and wires or chains of sufficient sizes. Together with the brake and chain stopper, anchor lashings secure the anchor from losing especially during sea passage.

Cross-sectional view of the anchor and windlass arrangement showing its different parts.
Anchor and Windlass Arrangement. on the forward part of the ship.

Checking the parts

The next time you board a vessel, check the anchor and its arrangements. But the best way to inspect them is during anchoring operation or heaving them up.

Since the master can not exactly expect them during anchoring, it’s up to the Chief Mate, Bosun, and deck crew to inspect them visually.

The components of an anchor that usually get damaged are the common links, bow stopper, and brake. 

Seafarers must pay attention to the securing pin of the bow stopper during bad weather. Experience taught me that it can bend and get stuck.

During scheduled maintenance, ensure that the deck crew greases all the applicable moving sections.

May the winds be in your favor.



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