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Old 10-05-2012, 06:54   #1
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Removing Mud from Anchor Chain

Hey - been a long time lurker, but first time poster. This is an amazing resource of data and experience - thanks folks!

I am in the process of completing the purchase of a 47' steel cutter; getting ready for a trip in the coming years with my family. One of the things that has always been a small, but interesting challenge to us is the effective cleaning of anchor chain when you haul back after anchoring in mud/silt.

Sounds trivial I know - but seriously, Some of the harbors we anchor in have, shall we say 'primitive' sewage systems, and centuries of effluent have turned the bottom muck into, well, not very nice stuff. If you don't get ALL of it off, then your anchor chain locker starts to stink pretty well - and that permeates the whole boat.

What is the wisdom of the group regarding this challenge? I know a good deck wash nozzle and a brush can do a lot - but then you have to haul so dang slowly that you end up drifting dangerously with 20-40 ft of chain dangling in the water as you laboriously clean the stuff coming in link by link.

Does anyone know of a better solution?

thanks-
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Old 10-05-2012, 07:04   #2
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Re: Removing mud from anchor chain

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, NSboatman.

Davis used to make a chain cleaning brush, called a "Gunkbuster", that worked well (tho' slowly).

See ➥ Marine Growth on Anchor Chains

See also ➥ Anchor Chain Cleaning Device - Patent 5351359
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Old 10-05-2012, 07:28   #3
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Re: Removing mud from anchor chain

We use a high pressure (saltwater) washdown hose and spray attachment (garden hose type) to wash the sticky mud before it comes aboard (works good)...it's the attached barnacles that we have to use a hammer to get off!
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Old 10-05-2012, 07:29   #4
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Spraying with a salt water pump and a long handled brush usually does the trick for us. With a really gunky anchor we will leave it hanging along with some of the chain and motor for a bit or bring it near the surface and attack it with the long handled brush. Is usually gets off all the big bits that will clog your anchor locker drains and the rest you can wash out by spraying the chain in the locker.

If the weather is bad enough that you don't feel you can hold position while hauling up your chain and anchor then really mud might be something you deal with later...
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Old 10-05-2012, 07:35   #5
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Re: Removing mud from anchor chain

Quote:
What is the wisdom of the group regarding this challenge? I know a good deck wash nozzle and a brush can do a lot - but then you have to haul so dang slowly that you end up drifting dangerously with 20-40 ft of chain dangling in the water as you laboriously clean the stuff coming in link by link.
Here on the Chesapeake we know a bit about mud on the chain. If there is any place worse I've never heard of it. You pull in the last chain that has been on the bottom and you can't see the links in the chain. The stuff smells really bad and is pretty sticky.

I use a salt water wash down pump with a good plastic nozzle (bring an extra two). Metal nozzles die quickly! Also use plastic fittings on the hose. You don't do this on the boat deck. You wash it before it can touch the boat!

Drifting? Not really but since I'm also using the windlass I also don't raise anchor without the engine running! The Admiral takes the helm and I use hand signals to control the boat as I clean the chain. The top part cleans quickly as it has been swaying in the waters. The anchor itself can come up "loaded". The coral sands of the tropics don't usually require a wash down but when you get into clay and other assorted muds you need a washdown. I don't use a brush because the spray of the washdown in a directed stream will blast it off.

Gords brush looks good but you get pretty close to the mud to use it. Around here the mud would be coming off the end of the brush and the brush itself would be caked with mud. The brush is nice when you take the chain off the boat so you can do a nice wash and repaint the marks. If you hung a weight on one end and a rope to the other you might pull the brush up and down just below the water line and thus clean it off but the washdown would be quicker. You would also be able to see if it was clean. I also have a 6 ft bow sprit I can wash chain on too for getting the last bits.

I wash about 6 ft at a time washing the bulk of the mud before the bow roller and the last bits on the bowsprit before it gets to the stem, It keeps all the mud off the deck as it comes through the fairlead on the stem and turns to go below under the windlass.
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Old 10-05-2012, 08:00   #6
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Re: Removing mud from anchor chain

Thanks Guys - I knew I'd seen or heard of something like that Davis device before - it looks like it *might* work. Anyone got any experience with it? I haven't see it in any catalogs recently either - know where to get one?

...sounds like the most common solution is water and a lot of it, with elbow grease where possible.

thanks -
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Old 10-05-2012, 08:13   #7
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We have used it and prefer the wash down method. If you use it make sure you use gloves as you are up close and personal with the mess and your chain. There is a lot of friction with use so our attempts to attach a pole to it didn't work which means we were leaning out under the pulpit. I'm sure some bright spark has figured out an easier way to use this tool. It takes the gunk off but still leaves a residue and it also gets so clogged with mud you need to wash it off which brings us full circle back to using a salt water pump anyway.

Edit: we have seen people tie it to cleats on the deck so the chain goes through it before the chain locker but that defeats the purpose of keeping the gunk off the boat and you still need a pump or lots of buckets to keep the deck clean.
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Old 10-05-2012, 08:16   #8
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Re: Removing mud from anchor chain

i use a bucket and brush system--doesnt cost anything and works--mud gets on my deck, but that doesnt matter--it will come off with a scraper and buckets of water at a later date.
i actually cruise my boat and it doesnt matter if a lil mud gets on foredeck--it will come off later. it isnt where feet go, anyway.
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Old 10-05-2012, 08:27   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zeehag
i use a bucket and brush system--doesnt cost anything and works--mud gets on my deck, but that doesnt matter--it will come off with a scraper and buckets of water at a later date.
i actually cruise my boat and it doesnt matter if a lil mud gets on foredeck--it will come off later. it isnt where feet go, anyway.
+1

Let the ocean do the work!
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Old 22-05-2012, 17:57   #10
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Re: Removing mud from anchor chain

An effective way to remove mud from chain if you have a deck locker and not one below deck is to haul the hook, chain,rode-- mud and all, and rinse in situ with a bucket. There is one caveat--your scupper, hose and through hull must be of sufficient diameter to allow the small shells/debris suspended in the mud to pass freely without obstruction. We have used this technique for years in windy conditions when a more measured cleaning was not possible with no negative results. And, after a couple nights in a sandy anchorage the menacing muck has all but disappeared.
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Old 22-05-2012, 18:02   #11
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Re: Removing mud from anchor chain

as i bring anchir up using my manua;l windlass, the other hand is scrubbing the growth off my chain as i raise it-before it gets to windlass. i use a hand brush and a bucket of water from below the boat. works great--is only few feet of chain that is fouled, and the anchor is cleaned when i get somewhere else- dry mud cleans easier than wet does.
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Old 22-05-2012, 18:13   #12
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Re: Removing mud from anchor chain

Quote:
Edit: we have seen people tie it to cleats on the deck so the chain goes through it before the chain locker but that defeats the purpose of keeping the gunk off the boat and you still need a pump or lots of buckets to keep the deck clean.
At the end of the day a clean deck is worth more than a clean chain. The chain goes back into the waters if you do it right. Don't let mud or drunks onto the boat. It's where you live!
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Old 22-05-2012, 18:33   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pblais

At the end of the day a clean deck is worth more than a clean chain. The chain goes back into the waters if you do it right. Don't let mud or drunks onto the boat. It's where you live!
We eel no. You don't want all that goop clogging up your deck drains Your drains should handle some goop. Leaving moist absorbent yuck on your chain is not good. If its going below deck it's going to stink as the microbes die. The chain is going to be more susceptible to corrosion packed in salty mud. If my chain comes up all nasty and my rinse can't keep up. I pile it on deck until it can be cleaned. Dumping that chain below deck into the bilge is bad form. I think this is the first time I thought Paul was wrong.
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Old 22-05-2012, 18:38   #14
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Re: Removing mud from anchor chain

is why is good to have huge scuppers on decks to rid decking of water in seas and from mucky anchors...and yer sox, and gloves, whatever ye dont want to rid self of--sunglasses even fit thru mine..LOL
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Old 22-05-2012, 18:46   #15
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Re: Removing mud from anchor chain

I am 100% with Paul (Pblais) on this one.

If you want to keep the crud off your deck and save your back at the same time high pressure wash down is only (well, at least the best) way. You wash it off BEFORE you bring it on-board, before it even hits the chain roller actually. Don't skimp on the pump either as you will generally be facing into the wind as you retrieve and clean. Higher pressure will keep that wonderful smelling mud from blowing back at you.
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