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Old 05-03-2018, 15:09   #1
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whoops... there goes the chain!

We've used joining links in our various chain rodes for all the years we've cruised... starting back in 1986! Never a problem with them, and I've advised others to use them when needed with a great sense of their safety when good products are used... until two days ago!

We were laying our our chain in our usual fashion, having dropped in about 30 feet depth. I'd snubbed it gently at ~50 feet and again at almost 75 to keep the chain straight and initiate the setting of our Manson Supreme. Conditions were calm, and I was totally unconcerned... and then as I started veering more chain to my astonishment, the chain just disappeared over the bow roller!!! Holy cow and other such exclamations passed over my lips. The chain had parted at a joining link, essentially under no load whatsoever. Fortunately Ann had set the anchor alarm as I dropped the hook initially, so we knew roughly where it lay as we drifted slowly away.

After the shock wore off, I got into the dinghy and deployed its small and cheap Danforth knock-off as a grapnel and started dragging it back and forth across where I thought the chain lay. After a half hour or so, I managed to snag it, but in the process of attempting to get it up to the windlass lost it again. RATS! By then it was getting darkish, so we picked up a nearby mooring for the night (our spare anchor isn't all that convenient to access and this was handy). A somewhat sleepless night followed, not aided by a neighboring yacht blowing their whistle randomly during the wee hours... perhaps under the influence of the demon rum. I kept thinking it was the mooring's owner returning and wanting us to vacate and so jumping up, staring around for an angry owner.

In the morning I was a bit more organized. Searched the chain locker and found at least half of the miscreant joiner and the free end of the remaining chain. Finding the link was important, for it showed what had happened and freed me from worry that the chain itself had failed. I then set a buoy at the approximate GPS location of the anchor to give me a reference point for my search pattern. I also replaced the 6 mm rode on the dinghy anchor with a more substantial line. Once again I started dragging the anchor back and forth and after about an hour succeeded in grappling the chain. This time we were successful in getting its bitter end into the windlass and recovering the anchor. Much relieved was I!

So, the lesson learned: The joining link involved was a high quality forged steel one. I remembered that when installing it the pins had been very hard to get peened over very much. They had done so enough to force the two halves of the joiner together firmly, and I'd viewed that as adequate. Inspection of the recovered bit showed that apparently there had been enough material loss to corrosion that the halves were able to separate while not under load in the chain pile... something I'd never considered.

Evans Starzinger has posted that he uses 5200 or equivalent to glue the halves of connectors together, and I now see the wisdom of this move. It likely would have prevented this failure. He also uses a Dyneema lashing around the join as a backup... another fine idea IMO. Do note that this failure did not occur under load... under load the halves are held together by the designed shape and they can't separate. We'd been at anchor with that link under load for the week previous while up in Hobart. I routinely have a quick look at that joiner as we deploy or hoist the anchor, but it is loaded at that time and had looked "normal" to me a couple of days previously.

I've rejoined the chain again, this time with a stainless link, for I didn't have any of the forged ones in hand, and they've proven hard to find in Oz. I prefer the forged ones, but have used the s/s links successfully for years and
don't fear them despite all the internet worries that are voiced.

So the point of this confession is to advise anyone using c-link joiners is to be sure that the pins are well peened over when installing, and to inspect them for looseness when not under load now and then.

Cheers from a somewhat chastened Jim
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Old 05-03-2018, 15:17   #2
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Re: whoops... there goes the chain!

Wow, and yikes! Thanks for posting this Jim. My rode has a couple of joiners. Ive inspected them periodically and theyve always appeared fine. But Ill be honest that Ive become pretty complacent about them.

Your post now changes this. A thorough inspection is now Job #1 when we get back to the boat.
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Old 05-03-2018, 15:25   #3
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Re: whoops... there goes the chain!

Got a pic?
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Old 05-03-2018, 15:35   #4
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Re: whoops... there goes the chain!

I would like to add that Evans' idea of using 5200 or even Sikaflex would have eliminated the salt water from the forged galvanized joiner, and that could well have eliminated the wasting.

@Chris,
I took a picture, but it doesn't show much, as the pins in question (that get peened over) are somewhat tapered from the get go.

Ann
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Old 05-03-2018, 15:47   #5
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Re: whoops... there goes the chain!

Thanks for posting that experience, Jim.
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Old 05-03-2018, 18:41   #6
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Re: whoops... there goes the chain!

Thanks for sharing experience Jim.
Was fortunate happened in benign conditions and you were able to recover your gear.
Being I am the windlass I do not use a joining link, (connect chain useing shackle / double clevis) but sometimes find comfort in adding a lazy soft shackle. Could work
with a joining link in a windlass.
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Old 05-03-2018, 21:40   #7
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Re: whoops... there goes the chain!

Yes, we were extremely fortunate, not only was there a mooring nearby, but it was daylight, and about 20 min. away, there was a friends' berth, where we could set the anchor on the dock, and rejoin the two pieces. It could, indeed, have been very much worse!

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Old 05-03-2018, 22:26   #8
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Re: whoops... there goes the chain!

Where are you guys at the moment?
Going to Cygnet for the weekend?
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Old 06-03-2018, 00:38   #9
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Re: whoops... there goes the chain!

Quote:
Originally Posted by olaf hart View Post
Where are you guys at the moment?
Going to Cygnet for the weekend?
Yep, we're there now! Looking forward to a good time as usual! Ping us if you come down... we'll be anchored down towards Copper Alley bay to stay out of the way of the mad racers.

Jim
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Old 06-03-2018, 00:44   #10
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Re: whoops... there goes the chain!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Cate View Post
....Ping us if you come down...
Jim
You called??

Just wundring..... why do you have joiners in your chain....? ... edit... read #1.... deleted 2nd question

Ping
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Old 06-03-2018, 00:54   #11
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Re: whoops... there goes the chain!

Ah, why there are joiners: well, it happened this way:

One time, anchored in Skeleton Bay, got the chain fouled inextricably between boulders. Used scuba, retrieved anchor (ahead of boulders), cut chain, saved anchor.

Next incident, anchored up the Gordon River out of Macquarie Hbr., chain got fouled in a snag of some sort. Dark brown tannin rich water, minimum 1 kn current, unknown snag waiting to trap diver, decided discretion was the better part of valor, and after trying everything we know to free the chain, wound up cutting both chain and anchor free. Used spare anchor thereafter, then waited for new Manson Supreme to arrive, 2 weeks. Told everybody where it was. Hope some young, strong person retrieved the hook and chain, but too daunting for us. No shame in staying alive but the natural concomitants of old age. Not our proudest hour, but discretion won. Not valorous, but dangeys, not all of them can be.

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Old 06-03-2018, 01:01   #12
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Re: whoops... there goes the chain!

why joiners???

Ping, the short answer is that I'm too cheap to buy a whole new chain every time that I loose a bit of the main rode. As you know, if you anchor in unknown spots very often, such things can happen! If one drinks the Kool aide and believes that the joiners are as strong as the main bit of chain (and I think this is true for the G-30 chain we use) it has worked ok for us for years. I'm considering replacement now after all these years next time regalvanizing looms.We'll see when the time comes...

Jim
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Old 06-03-2018, 02:01   #13
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Re: whoops... there goes the chain!

why not have the miscreant welded shut & replace it every other year? on the job here we sell them too, I never without voicing my sincere mistrust because by their looks I judge them...
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Old 06-03-2018, 08:57   #14
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Re: whoops... there goes the chain!

An interesting story, tks for sharing. We are all lead to think that those C-links are perfect. I have found that after a few years the chain links that are closest to the C-link tend to lose their galv coating so start going rusty. I just cut them out and use a new C-link. Mine is 10mm ( about 3/8") and i always use the Crosby links and then give them about 3 coats of zinc paint. So far no more rusty chain links. The Crosby links are actually 3/8" so it takes a bit of fiddling to get them in place. Never thought of "glueing" them together as well.
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Old 06-03-2018, 09:29   #15
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Re: whoops... there goes the chain!

Hi Jim,

Thank you very much for posting this. I have always mistrusted joiners and even though real world experience shows they can be as strong as the chain it just goes against my gut feeling to use one. Your experience unfortunately helps reinforce my fears.

On the other hand, I too would have to think long and hard about shelling out $1500 or so for all new chain if some circumstance resulted my having two shorter lengths of perfectly good chain on hand. It seems the lesson is don't get complacent about checking critical things like shackles, pins, joins, etc in your anchoring system.

The further lesson is don't get complacent about regularly checking critical bits in a couple dozen boat systems.

Think it's time to review and update the check list in my log. Going to make a separate section for important things to check every week/month/year.
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