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Old 18-12-2013, 15:11   #1
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Do you Like your Rope Rode ?

I grew up racing, now I cruise. I love my medium displacement mid-eighties production boat but consider her to be a bit of a pig, and a tender one at that. Do you like your rope rode?

I know there are many here who might say all chain, end of discussion.

For me it would be hard to have all chain without wanting to reconfigure my boat's forepeak and anchor locker so as to move the weight of chain storage aft and away from the bow. Gee, that's a lot of work and I want to go cruising sooner than later.

I know location matters, we're hoping to go get lost in the Caribbean for a couple years. Is it a half-baked notion to think you could go cruising happily without an all chain rode and survive?
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Old 18-12-2013, 15:19   #2
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Re: Do you like your rope rode?

i'll bet that all - or almost all - long term cruisers use all chain. must be a reason. i know from personal experience that chain saved my boat and me when i swung into rocks in the bahamas one dark and stormy night.
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Old 18-12-2013, 15:33   #3
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Re: Do you like your rope rode?

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Originally Posted by Delancey View Post
I grew up racing, now I cruise. I love my medium displacement mid-eighties production boat but consider her to be a bit of a pig, and a tender one at that. Do you like your rope rode?

I know there are many here who might say all chain, end of discussion.

For me it would be hard to have all chain without wanting to reconfigure my boat's forepeak and anchor locker so as to move the weight of chain storage aft and away from the bow. Gee, that's a lot of work and I want to go cruising sooner than later.

I know location matters, we're hoping to go get lost in the Caribbean for a couple years. Is it a half-baked notion to think you could go cruising happily without an all chain rode and survive?
Yes. Coral seems to love chewing on rope. I believe the Carribean is a coral area.

Then if you head for the Pacific and end up at Pitcairn replacing/building your anchor because you have lost your anchor as the rope chaffed through.

I could not ever suggest anything but chain in a coral area.

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Old 18-12-2013, 15:38   #4
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Re: Do you like your rope rode?

I've seen two boats get beached (and holed) because their nylon lines got chewed through on a "sand" bottom. There are a lot of places that have sand and then some big chunks of rocks poking up which you can wrap around and abrade on.

I've yet to have to bail from an anchorage because I was worried my ground tackle couldn't support it, but I'll pass up sketchy anchorages and spend time getting to a good one even if it's less scenic. There are plenty of places we've skipped because I didn't like the anchoring options.

300' of chain, 62lb manson supreme anchor, manual windlass, strong back. Bump this thread after we get through the South Pacific and asked how it all worked out then in super deep anchorages. We'll see.
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Old 18-12-2013, 15:46   #5
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Re: Do you like your rope rode?

Making the change would allow me to install a partial watertight bulkhead and swap the ridiculously small factory installed holding tank.

Hard to balance the boat you have with the boat you want when the goal is to go sooner than later. Maybe best to go sooner with all chain and worry about hobby horsing later.

Then again that bulkhead is pretty motivating. Decisions, decisions....
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Old 18-12-2013, 15:47   #6
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Re: Do you like your rope rode?

I had 150' of chain backed by 175' of three-strand nylon. Spent a couple of years cruising up and down the Lesser Antilles and never needed to let out any of the nylon. Most of the anchorages are 15' to 25' deep, some up to 30' or so. A few of the anchorages have coral heads that can snag your rode if the winds or tidal current shifts after you've anchored in the clear. Nylon rode wouldn't last but a few minutes in situations like that.
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Old 18-12-2013, 15:49   #7
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Re: Do you like your rope rode?

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I've seen two boats get beached (and holed) because their nylon lines got chewed through on a "sand" bottom. There are a lot of places that have sand and then some big chunks of rocks poking up which you can wrap around and abrade on.

I've yet to have to bail from an anchorage because I was worried my ground tackle couldn't support it, but I'll pass up sketchy anchorages and spend time getting to a good one even if it's less scenic. There are plenty of places we've skipped because I didn't like the anchoring options.

300' of chain, 62lb manson supreme anchor, manual windlass, strong back. Bump this thread after we get through the South Pacific and asked how it all worked out then in super deep anchorages. We'll see.
So rebel how are you carrying that kind of tackle, do you split it up, pull some back in the center of the bilges?
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Old 18-12-2013, 15:53   #8
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Re: Do you like your rope rode?

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I had 150' of chain backed by 175' of three-strand nylon. Spent a couple of years cruising up and down the Lesser Antilles and never needed to let out any of the nylon. Most of the anchorages are 15' to 25' deep, some up to 30' or so. A few of the anchorages have coral heads that can snag your rode if the winds or tidal current shifts after you've anchored in the clear. Nylon rode wouldn't last but a few minutes in situations like that.
I guess that's part of the question. How much time do people spend anchored in coral? I mean it's bad for the coral isn't it? Do people really have to go out of their way to avoid anchoring in it? In the Caribbean?
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Old 18-12-2013, 15:59   #9
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Re: Do you like your rope rode?

Like you, I have come to cruising from a racing background. I was used to carrying a relatively small amount of chain and a lot of rope. Like you I also have a mid-80's boat (with all the sins that come with that era).

Now, when we race, we carry a 35 lb anchor, with 33' of 5/16" chain and 130' of rope

When we cruise we use a 45 lb anchor with 165' of 5/16 chain and 25' of rope (and retain the racing anchor & rode on board, as a back-up.

I sleep well at night.
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Old 18-12-2013, 16:02   #10
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Re: Do you like your rope rode?

I almost always dove on my anchor, and a lot of the anchorages were mostly sand, but had a few lumps of dead coral or rock strewn around that could be a problem. I came to the conclusion that 150' of chain was just about right for just about anywhere we anchored in the Lesser Antilles.
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Old 18-12-2013, 16:02   #11
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Re: Do you like your rope rode?

When I started cruising most boats did not have all chain. Now you seldom see a chain and line rode. Also you seldom see a boat without a windlass. But you can still cruise with chain and line. But I would have at least 50 feet of chain.

I have 200 feet of chain and 200 feet of line at the end of the chain. I need new chain this year so I'm going with just the 200' of chain. Taking out the 5/8 line. Will use it for new snubbers and mooring lines. Actually the 200' of line has been getting shorter over the years as I never used it and needed new snubbers. I only cruise the Bahamas and seldom anchor in more than 15'. 100 odd feet of chain would suffice but I get 200' (cheaper, 1/2 barrel) and I end for end it every few years.
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Old 18-12-2013, 16:13   #12
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Re: Do you like your rope rode?

Delancy, you don't tell us much about your boat, but IMO any 40 foot boat from the 80's should easily be able to handle the weight of a rode with 200+ feet of 8 or 10 mm chain. We had 280 feet of 10 mm plus lots of nylon backup in our previous boat which was a retired 36 foot IOR one-tonner. She had a pretty fine entry, but bore the weight well for the 86K miles we cruised in her. I think that folks worry too much about the effect of an extra hundred fifty pounds in the chain locker. You could try an experiment: lash a few jerry jugs of water to the bow pulpit and go sailing... see if the load causes any horrible mishandling. I bet it won't! And do remember that using G-43 or even G-70 chain can help keep the weight down... both in your locker and your wallet!

As others have noted, all of us who have been cruising remote areas for a while have seen rope rodes fail. For me it simply is a no-brainer to use chain.

And about "anchoring in coral". This doesn't necessarily mean anchoring on a living reef, not at all! When in coral areas one finds the sandy patches to drop in, but even there numerous lumps of isolated and usually dead coral litter the bottom, and these are deadly sharp to nylon.

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Old 18-12-2013, 16:51   #13
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Re: Do you like your rope rode?

On our first boat we cruised the Caribbean (and everywhere else in the world except the pacific) with 75' of chain and 225' of rope (and a manual windless). In the pacific we used 150' of chain.

That was a centerboard boat (4' 3" with board up) and we rarely anchored in deeper than 10' and rarely had any rope out.

So it is surely possible to cruise with a mixed rode.

For a decade on our bigger hawk we had 150' of chain plus 200' of rope (with an electric windless).we have rarely had enough rope out to touch the bottom. No safety concerns at all. We did have another 150' piece of chain we added for chile, not because of chafe, but because of the stern tie situation. We would drop the anchor and back in, sometimes a long way, and that process (and picking up) just went more smoothly with chain.

We did eventually switch to 300' of continuous chain, primarily because I am single handing more, and all chain is easier to handle with the windless.

Take from that what you will . . . . Safely sailing long distance and time with mixed rodes, or a gradual progression to more chain.
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Old 18-12-2013, 16:52   #14
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Re: Do you like your rope rode?

I suspect a lot of the 100% chain sentiment is because of the windlass.

Hey, I know I haven't spent a lot of time out there, but I'm with Vasco, if you have enough chain where it lies near the bottom,and if you can deal with handling the split rode, it should be fine.
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Old 18-12-2013, 16:59   #15
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Re: Do you like your rope rode?

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So rebel how are you carrying that kind of tackle, do you split it up, pull some back in the center of the bilges?
Nah, we ride a little bow heavy but not too bad; the cut water is above the waterline. And although I can't see it happen, I think when we're both in the cockpit it's balanced out. It's a heavy boat that is pretty forgiving.

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I guess that's part of the question. How much time do people spend anchored in coral? I mean it's bad for the coral isn't it? Do people really have to go out of their way to avoid anchoring in it? In the Caribbean?
It's not just coral, it's rocks too as far as slicing up your lines is concerned. And rocks are global. My friends in the South Pacific used shrimper floats to keep their chain off the coral. They'd set it then put a float or three on to keep it dangling above the coral. If the weather pumps the floats would get submerged quickly. No personal experience with that arrangement though.
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