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Old 05-02-2014, 07:19   #1
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Has Anyone Broken their Anchor Chain or Stretch Damaged It?

I thought it would make an interesting topic especially if someone has first hand information.

There is alot of thoughts surrounding safety at anchor, the correct chain grade, BBB G40 and sizing 10mm 13mm 7/16th 1/2inch etc. Ensuring you have the right combination for boat size and weight.

As it is such an important thing not to have happen, it would be very interesting to know who has actually had this happen to them.


What boat size, weight and type ?

What chain Brand ? (eg Acco, unknown brand)

What chain type ? (eg Unknown, BBB G40)

What chain size ? (eg 10mm 7/16 1/2inch)

How old was the chain?

Did it have any rust damage that weakened it?

Did it break or stretch ?

Did the shackle break first before the chain could be stressed ?

What were the circumstances ? (eg Hurricane, thunderstorm with a large swells, jammed under rock and gave it some under power)

What was the wind speed ?

Did the boat get damaged ?
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Old 14-03-2014, 03:30   #2
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Re: Has anyone broken their anchor chain or stretch damaged it ?

I'm surprised that this thread has had no responses and is now more than a month old. Does that mean that we are all oversizing our chain.

I was particularly interested in damage while anchored in strong marginal conditions.

Surely someone out there has experienced this.

It would be particularly interesting to get an idea how often chain gets damaged and what were the circumstances.

I have been anchored in 70kts in flat water but I saw no signs of stretch damage and I guess its because 70kts is not enough for my 10mm chain on a 25 ton boat.

I always think that the best way to get a feel for things is other peoples experience.

Anyone out there anchored and damaged their chain??

Sofar ..... no-one!
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Old 14-03-2014, 08:08   #3
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Re: Has anyone broken their anchor chain or stretch damaged it ?

I will throw something in to the mix so you don't feel ignored. I spent several years cruising on my 20 ton Herrshoff ketch and used exclusively 3/8 BBB chain with an 80# cqr style anchor. Can honestly say that it was an awesome anchor system having no recollection of ever dragging once fixed to the bottom.
We definitely stretched the chain on two occasions ,seriously enough to need changing to the spare. Anchored off Hanga Roa on Easter Island we had all 300 feet out in a blow, with the chain coming up so hard that it "floated" off the bow roller in the swells. We broke two 3/4 inch nylon snubbers in the process. Needless to say we got out of there and moved around to the lee side of the island. The other nasty incident was anchored in the Caymans , the wind shifted, chain got under a coral head and got tighter and tighter with the swells . We finally had to dump the gear, re=anchor in the sand and dive on the anchor to retrieve it. That time we only stretched a short portion of the chain.
Both times were at night which probably clouded my perception of the seriousness of the occasion. I should have made the decision to get out of there sooner in both instances.
cheers, greg
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Old 14-03-2014, 13:38   #4
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Re: Has anyone broken their anchor chain or stretch damaged it ?

FWIW:

We've been cruising for 27 years now, and in all that time have only witnessed two broken chains.

1. In Baja in around 1986 (possibly our second time there in 1988), a very low bucks French Canadian ferrocement vessel of around 36-38 feet broke his anchor chain in very modest conditions. But, one needs to know that he had purchased the chain used from a Mexican fisherman who had thought the chain to be too rusted to use. Go figger! IIRC it was 3/8 chain, unknown (and I mean REALLY unknown) provenance!

2. 1991, Raoul Island (Kermadek group), cyclone Lisa in mid-May. A 72 foot OAL ferrocement brigantine, anchored in hard sand with a 125 lb Danforth on about 100 feet of 1/2 inch chain, allegedly in good shape but without a snubber, broke the chain and was subsequently lost. Again, go figger. Her skipper refused to add the nylon he had on board as a snubber for what can only be described as "odd" personal reasons, and he paid the price for his obstinance! We were experiencing bullets of 60++ knots, but sustained winds of only around 50 at the time, and with only around 1/4 mile fetch.

So, IMO both of the rare chain breakages that I have been around were caused by gross negligence or error on the operators part. I conclude that chain breakage in a well found boat is extremely rare. I can't add to the info on stretching... that is much harder to determine from a distance!

Cheers,

Jim
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Old 14-03-2014, 14:18   #5
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Re: Has Anyone Broken their Anchor Chain or Stretch Damaged It?

Mirar:

You say you broke two 3/4" nylon snubbers. Did they chafe or just break due to the load. I suspect that 3/4" nylon has a higher working load than 3/8" BBB chain. I know that its ultimate tensile strength (where it breaks) is much higher at about 15,000 lbs.

The definition "safe working load" is tenuous at best. Nylon will stretch about 1/2 its length before it breaks. Chain will also stretch but will break soon thereafter.

I once watched our mechanic try to lift a too heavy load with chain. As he raised the forks on the forklift the chain stretched about 1/8 of its length, then it broke.

David
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Old 14-03-2014, 14:44   #6
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Re: Has Anyone Broken their Anchor Chain or Stretch Damaged It?

We met up with the legendary Gerry Clark on Totorore some years ago, when he came into Lyttelton just as we were off sailing to the Antipodes Islands, to drop off some scientists and building materials. He was just back from the Bounty Islands, where he too had been doing some scientific support work.

He was returning to NZ to restock with anchors, being down to his last, having lost the others through wedging between the notorious boulders which can be a feature of bottoms in the subAntarctic.

In at least one case the chain had broken (failing at the welds) as a result. In others he had to cut the chain.

The only anchors he could persuade to hold in these waters were Bruce, and in those days they were still available.

Six months later his boat was wrecked (he and his crew were never found) when he had been at anchor in South Bay on the Antipodes -- some surmise probably due to chain failure.

His chain was 3/8" and I suspect it was inexpensive, no-brand imported chain from Asia - it's hard to imagine his sampson post, strong though it was, standing up to proper Grade L chain at that size. (It was a timber vessel, not steel)

On a tight budget (and given the cost of genuine Bruce anchors) he may have felt economies on chain to be unavoidable.
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Old 14-03-2014, 18:14   #7
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Re: Has Anyone Broken their Anchor Chain or Stretch Damaged It?

Hi again, The 3/4 in snubbers probably chafed to the point where they failed. They were both so totally destroyed that it was hard to tell but can't imagine that they would break otherwise. The conditions at Easter I. deteriorated so fast that we barely had time to dump the gear with buoys and skedaddle. Another fail on my anchor system was not having a keeper above the roller to stop the chain from floating off as the boat dove into the swells. The chain at one point came off the roller and in between it and the sprit. Nasty!
On the other hand, I have never heard of anyone breaking a 3/8 chain in good condition.
regards, Greg
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Old 15-03-2014, 01:02   #8
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Re: Has Anyone Broken their Anchor Chain or Stretch Damaged It?

Never seen a broken chain. I've seen 2 10mm chains stretched to a degree that they would no longer fit the chain gypsy. One on a forty foot cruiser, the other on an HR46. The first time anchored off cape melville in Ausy, gusting 50,< 1m seas.. The second in Thailand, in about 40-50 and about 1.5 - 2m seas in the anchorage. Both chains were unbranded, I understand of Chinese manufacture.
Buy quality chain, if in doubt have it tested...
I recently tested my 10 year old Ausy made chain, 10mm short link, broke at around 5500 KG. It has been re-galv 2x.
A local specialist here in NZ says he has tested some chain, supposed to meet the same specs as mine, but it broke at about 3000 KG. Even the pros can have problems identifying some chains... Be careful with your selections!
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Old 16-03-2014, 20:51   #9
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Re: Has Anyone Broken their Anchor Chain or Stretch Damaged It?

We are seeing an increase in chain failures, still not that common but certainly isn't unheard of. With he move towards building to a price in the east it's inevitable there will be more failures. Sure some chain is fine but a lot is spooky and the freaky bit is most average boaters can't tell the difference. But even worse is many selling the stuff have no idea either. The money selling in Asian made is real good so you can see why people love selling it.

The biggest thing we see is stretching. Most of the eastern made is soft so will change shape without a huge effort sometimes. Had a 36ft power boat make 10mm chain 2mm per link longer and his logging software showed he had a peak wind gust of 28kts. No way should a boat of that size be able to change 10mm chain especially in light winds like that.

The biggest scary we have seen of late is the increase in failures of Stainless chains or even freakier is putting so to the test and after a visual inspection has them looking fine they then fail well below load. 3 incidents of note in the last couple of months. One failing at 900kg when it should have been at least 5000kg.

One of the links of that SS below. Look close and you see why it looks pretty but is weak, unlike say US or EU made which looks rough but will meet specification. They don't just mig around the outside of the link.

And as a FYI, we have 2 boats currently discussing chain issues and both boats think they were sold a particular brand of chain. Neither boats have the chain they think they have. So asking for brands may easily give incorrect answers.

We suspect chain failures are only going to increase as people hunt lowest price and then operate their winch from the cockpit so they will never see a failure coming until it's too late.
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Old 16-03-2014, 21:01   #10
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Re: Has Anyone Broken their Anchor Chain or Stretch Damaged It?

Thanks for that, GMac.

Sobering.

As an aside, I'm not a big fan of dogmatic stances, but one thing I would not put on a boat, regardless of quality, is stainless anchor chain.
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Old 18-03-2014, 04:24   #11
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Re: Has Anyone Broken their Anchor Chain or Stretch Damaged It?

Thanks for all the replies, so far its been a very interesting thread. I think experience of others helps us to get a feeling for the forces as well.

I don't want to generalise too much but so far, it seems that stretch and breakages have been experienced, mostly when the boat was weighing 20t + and wind was over 50kts and there was some sea, 1m or more. It seems that a lack of snubber played some role in giving the chain shock loads.

It would be good to hear from some hurricane people who experienced winds over 60 kts with or without snubbers.

That would be interesting too.
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Old 18-03-2014, 08:24   #12
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Re: Has Anyone Broken their Anchor Chain or Stretch Damaged It?

I saw a chain break once. A pretty good sized boat came into the anchorage, maybe 55 or 60 ft. It was a med-moor situation with the bottom requiring that the anchor be placed way off the dock. The boat came in and was in very deep water. There was a gal crew at the windlass. The skipper yelled 'drop the main'. She heard 'drop the chain'. The anchor and chain started a free fall. After a lot of screaming she pulled back on the windlass and stopped the chain dead. It parted and the anchor went off to the deep.
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Old 18-03-2014, 13:09   #13
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Re: Has Anyone Broken their Anchor Chain or Stretch Damaged It?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew Troup View Post
Thanks for that, GMac.

Sobering.

As an aside, I'm not a big fan of dogmatic stances, but one thing I would not put on a boat, regardless of quality, is stainless anchor chain.
Yes that link, which is only one of many similar, is a tad spooky to say the least.

Stainless chain, while I wouldn't purely from a cost point of view many do and I might if I had more money then I could use. BUT it would be done using only a specific few manufacturers chains and with a well sorted anchor locker and surrounds. Like many things, if you set it up correctly from the get go it works fine.
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Old 18-03-2014, 14:24   #14
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Re: Has Anyone Broken their Anchor Chain or Stretch Damaged It?

Ok, the other side of the coin. I've been anchored in Jacksons Bay Tory Channel, NZ, in winds up to 70 Knots, gusting higher. Boat is about 8 Ton, 40ft Farr Cruiser. Chain 10mm PB from Ausy. 3/4 inch Nylon Snubber, 5m long. No Chain stretch, no dragging, only issue was trying to get the Anchor out of the seabed the next morning! Anchor is a 20Kg Rocna, water about 6m deep, 40m rode, all chain. Good anchor systems work amazingly well. I feel safer on my anchor (known system) than I do on a strange mooring.
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Old 18-03-2014, 18:50   #15
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Re: Has Anyone Broken their Anchor Chain or Stretch Damaged It?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew Troup View Post
We met up with the legendary Gerry Clark on Totorore some years ago, when he came into Lyttelton just as we were off sailing to the Antipodes Islands, to drop off some scientists and building materials. He was just back from the Bounty Islands, where he too had been doing some scientific support work.

He was returning to NZ to restock with anchors, being down to his last, having lost the others through wedging between the notorious boulders which can be a feature of bottoms in the subAntarctic.

In at least one case the chain had broken (failing at the welds) as a result. In others he had to cut the chain.

The only anchors he could persuade to hold in these waters were Bruce, and in those days they were still available.

Six months later his boat was wrecked (he and his crew were never found) when he had been at anchor in South Bay on the Antipodes -- some surmise probably due to chain failure.

His chain was 3/8" and I suspect it was inexpensive, no-brand imported chain from Asia - it's hard to imagine his sampson post, strong though it was, standing up to proper Grade L chain at that size. (It was a timber vessel, not steel)

On a tight budget (and given the cost of genuine Bruce anchors) he may have felt economies on chain to be unavoidable.

Had the fortune to meet Gerry while sailing in NZ years ago. He wrote an interesting book that I enjoyed. I think it was called "the cruise if the Totorore". Talk about some ballsy seamanship! He anchored in places I would not even consider. What a tough nut! If you can find a copy of his book it covers some serious sailing with very basic gear.
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