Anchor lockers are probably one of the last things you look at when considering a new boat, but in the long run, a well-designed anchor locker can save you a lot of work, grief, and maintenance. A bad one will lead to pinched fingers, rotting lines, banging hatches, and broken hinges. So when you look at your next boat, remember to check the anchor locker for:
1. Metal latches – the plastic ones are just fine for two or three years, but once they get some age on them, you can expect ‘em to break off.
2. Good drainage – the big blunder here is that some builders install the drain several inches above the locker’s lowest point. As a result, there’s always some standing water in the locker, which causes lines to rot and smells to percolate.
3. A line exit point – A simple notch cut in the edge of the hatch will do the trick. But if the line doesn’t have a way of getting out of the locker with the hatch closed, you’ll have to remove the rode entirely, every time you anchor. Why not let the hatch rest on the line, as it comes out of the locker? This is a recipe for disaster; if someone steps on the hatch it’ll flex at an odd angle and may break. Plus, if you take a wave over the bow, the locker will flood.
4. An attachment point for the bitter end – without one, you could end up pulling a Gilligan, and lose the anchor and line completely.
5. Sturdy hinges – Piano hinges are the best, but others are okay as long as they are beefy. It’s common for people to accidentally step on an anchor locker hatch when it’s open, and that can break wimpy hinges in a heartbeat.
6. Appropriate openings – What we mean here is they should open outward and be hinged at the bottom, not the top. In some cases you’ll encounter hatches mounted on a vertical surface which are hinged at the top; these are the worst, since gravity always wants to flip them shut as you’re trying to access the opening. Usually, it’ll swing shut on a finger or two – ouch!
7. Secure wiring – On most boats, the running light wiring runs through the anchor locker to the peak of the bow. This is fine if it’s well loomed and supported, but if those wires droop, there’s a good chance you’ll snag ‘em with a fluke of the anchor one day—and rip them right out.