I've long been wondering about this, but couldn't read myself to the answer.
I'm talking about the classic, large iron anchors on large ships "back in the day". It seems to me that there must've been numerous situations where even a long chain could not make the anchor reach the bottom of the ocean when they were too far away from land and had to stop for whatever reason.
Or even that, in spite of being close to land, the water was simply too deep for the anchor to reach the bottom.
In such cases, did the anchor still provide sufficient/some "stability" by simply hanging like that in the water under the ship? Or does an anchor only work properly/meaningfully when it actually is resting on the bottom?
The whole concept of an anchor has always fascinated me, because it seems useless out on the sea, yet basically pointless when you are already so close to land and the water is relatively "calm". But clearly I'm missing something and I bet the truth is that it was crucial to have an anchor for any ship.