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Old 30-09-2013, 13:08   #16
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Re: Anchor Chain Length for Bahamas

I cruised down the ICW and thru the Bahamas 20 years ago with my C&C Landfall 38. I plan to do it again with the same boat in a few years as I hit retirement age. When I cruised the Bahamas the first time, I had a 44-lb Bruce (with about 30 feet of 3/8" chain) and a 35-lb CQR (with a about 20 feet of chain). I do NOT have a windlass. I still have the same anchors but reduced the length of chain on each for use in the Chesapeake Bay for the last 20 years.

30 feet of chain on a 44-lb Bruce is a lot of weight to haul up when leaving an anchorage. While I am approaching retirement age, I am wondering if I will need a windlass this time around. I would appreciate any thoughts on this...
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Old 30-09-2013, 13:18   #17
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Re: Anchor Chain Length for Bahamas

Whether you need a windlass only you can say. I think you'll be better off with one. But remember, you'll only be hauling 10 feet of chain and the anchor in most cases as most folks anchor in about ten feet of water or so.

About 99% of the cruisers use all chain now so if you keep to nylon and chain you'll be the odd man out. For the Bahamas I like 200 feet of chain. I usually anchor with 100 feet and with 200 feet you can end for end it after a few years.

On Lake Ontario I still use nylon and 50 feet of 3/8 chain and a 33# anchor. I do not have a windlass and can still weigh anchor by hand, usually anchoring in 20 feet of water. It's getting more difficult each year (I probably have a few years on you) but can be done. It gets more difficult if it's blowing hard but it's usually pretty quiet where I usually anchor on the weekends.
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Old 30-09-2013, 13:26   #18
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Re: Anchor Chain Length for Bahamas

You are absolutely correct in that I am only hauling up (at the maximum) the weight of the chain equal to the depth of water plus the weight of the anchor--and, I guess in retirement, I have all the time in the world (to haul it up). So, I guess I could equip the Bruce with all chain and the CQR with chain/nylon rode combination and work out fine? The CQR would be my secondary anchor and my primary going down the ICW.

But I do have to make a decision on the windlass BEFORE I buy any chain...
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Old 30-09-2013, 13:27   #19
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Re: Anchor Chain Length for Bahamas

While I carry 200 feet+ of chain, I can't recall ever needing more than 100' in the Bahamas, even during some heavy blows.

Still, a 100' of chain is a lot of weight in the bow of a little boat. It may lead to hobby horsing I suspect. Yet there is sufficient chance to damage a nylon rode that I would stick with all chain, along with the understanding that the sand/rock and otherwise abrasive bottom composition will take away some of the life span of the galvanizing.

As for windlasses - greatest thing since self-tailing winches!
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Old 30-09-2013, 13:33   #20
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Re: Anchor Chain Length for Bahamas

I used a Bruce for many years in the Bahamas. I had no windlass on the CS36M and could not bring myself to lay out the bucks for a windlass as, if you're going to a windlass, you should go electric. The problem is the wiring run to the windlass, has to be a good size, expensive. I have cruised with friends that had manual windlasses and most of them hauled the anchor up by hand as it was much faster than cranking the windlass.
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Old 30-09-2013, 13:41   #21
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Re: Anchor Chain Length for Bahamas

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Originally Posted by Cheechako View Post
Rethinking, 100 feet of chain is a back breaker hauling in.... .
OTOH it doesn't really matter how much chain you have out, it only matters how deep it it is. I have 350' of chain and my windlass broke 2 weeks ago when I had 120' out. In the end it was just a 60# anchor and 25' of chain, which was still pretty heavy for a fat man to pull up alone!
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Old 30-09-2013, 13:42   #22
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Re: Anchor Chain Length for Bahamas

Once you go with a windless you'll wonder why you waited so long.
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Old 30-09-2013, 13:52   #23
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Re: Anchor Chain Length for Bahamas

Actually the best bit with an electric windlass is that if you don't like where you end up when anchoring you just press the little button and up comes the hook. Re-anchoring is no longer a chore.
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Old 30-09-2013, 14:24   #24
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Re: Anchor Chain Length for Bahamas

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Actually the best bit with an electric windlass is that if you don't like where you end up when anchoring you just press the little button and up comes the hook. Re-anchoring is no longer a chore.
+1

Especially if in the middle of the night, bad weather, time critical, etc.
I have a Lewmar V-Series that has been perfect. Prior boat had a Lofrans manual windlass that was much slower, and sometimes back breaking. I would never go back to a manual windlass or hand drawn retrieval, unless on a very small system.
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Old 30-09-2013, 16:06   #25
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Re: Anchor Chain Length for Bahamas

i've been cruising florida/bahamas since the 70's. at the moment i've got a 45lb manson supreme (best anchor i've ever owned) on 130' of 3/8" bbb chain. and an old abi manual windlass.

i've never had out more than 100' of chain anchoring anywhere in these areas. usually in ten feet of water, sometimes a bit more, sometimes a bit less. with a snubber of course.

when retrieving i "let the cat do it" whenever possible. pull in some chain - by hand - and let the boat drift up to it. then pull in some more. eventually the chain is straight up and down. that's when i usually, but not always, put the chain on the gypsy and crank it up with the windlass. sometimes i pull it all up by hand. lately though, that new manson digs in so deep i have to sit a bit with the chain straight and let the boat rock it loose before i can haul it out.

the admiral keeps telling me to get an electric windlass; maybe when i get old i will, but at 71 i still feel young...
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Old 30-09-2013, 19:03   #26
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During the past 20 years, the anchoring conditions in the Bahamas haven't changed I'm sure--just attitudes and ages of the sailors. I'm working on a pretty big list of added creature comforts for my boat and I guess that's where an electric windlass falls. Last time, I really liked my chain/rope rodes and they worked well. I'm not convinced that I want all that chain stored forward and may stick to 30 feet of chain on rope--still I'd be hauling in the same weight as if it were all chain. Could I still use an electric windlass with a combination rode?
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Old 30-09-2013, 19:35   #27
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Re: Anchor Chain Length for Bahamas

Go with a Manson or similar for sure. I would get a manual windlass as well, but they don't make them anymore (pretty much)
The Manson 35 would be OK for your boat, I used a 45 on a 35,000 lb 45' ketch for 3 years in up to 50 knot winds.

anyway, maybe you can get by with no windlass, but I wouldn't cruise with a Bruce or a CQR type again. The newer anchors are so much better designed, though the build quality is a bit lacking.
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Old 01-10-2013, 08:04   #28
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Re: Anchor Chain Length for Bahamas

My concern with all chain without a windlass is the difficulty of handling the chain when the weather is not cooperating. This can lead to many injuries.

My friend with the manual windlass never used it because of how slow it was. He got used to hauling in the chain by hand. We were anchoring one day in about 30 knots and when he tried to cleat the chain off, got his hand caught in it. Lucky it was in Big Majors where there usually is a nurse and we managed to get him to the clinic. It was quite a ride in. Nothing broken but he had over 30 stitches in the fleshy part of his palm, near the thumb.
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Old 01-10-2013, 08:38   #29
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Re: Anchor Chain Length for Bahamas

Lots of good answers. The only time you will have a chafing problem is anchoring near the reefs for diving. I cannot think of a secure anchorage where you would overnight where chafing would be a problem. Use a nylon snubber to absorb shock and cut down on chain noise at night. Look us up if you get to GTC.
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Old 01-10-2013, 08:43   #30
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Re: Anchor Chain Length for Bahamas

Not in the Bahamas. Tons of them in the pacific.
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