Anchor Away! Get a spud pole!
Get a whawazzat? Spud poles have been around since the late 19th century. Tall wooden or steel poles, they pin cargo ships (at right), work boats and dredging barges in place. They are far handier than anchors, But rising high from a deck, they are also ugly as sin.
So who puts an eye-sore like that on a recreational motor yacht?
Dick Leeuwestein for one, but he hides it really well. In recent years, the yard that bears his name has installed Hollandia spud pole systems on 40 or so (mostly) steel motor yachts. He tells boating magazine De Waterkampioen his electric spud poles are fast, invisible, no-sweat, push-button alternatives to anchoring. “People thought a bow prop was exotic when they first saw one on a yacht. Now they are everywhere.” A power-driven telescopic spud pole “is not an off-the-shelf item,” says Leeuwestein. His poles are invisible from the outside. “We need a minimum inside cabin height of 1.8 meters to work with,” says Leeuwestein. A tailor-made system can run to €3,000 and up.
The galvanized tube walls are 8-10 mm thick. Full lowered through the hull they can hold the power of the engine. A 2-section pole goes 3m deep and weighs 300kg. A 3-section pole goes 5m deep and weighs 400kg. These numbers must be double as a yacht of about 10m requires 2 poles. Several ship yards in the Netherlands install spud poles on recreational yachts. The advantages are inescapable: the poles quickly pin a vessel in place while it waits for a lock or bridge to open. At night there is no need to account for an anchor tide-turn circle. No messing with anchor lines. No running forward and aft. No stress.
Electric poles are lowered and raised with a push of a button in the wheelhouse. The poles automatically adjust to rising and falling water levels. Spud poles also come in manual versions: hard-wood poles resembling giant pencils that are hoisted and lowered by hand.