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Old 09-01-2015, 17:23   #1
Jud
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Upgrading to a rope/chain gypsy? (From a chain-only gypsy)

Hi all,

Just curious to get advice on the usefulness of a upgrading to a rope/chain gypsy (from a chain-only gypsy).

We're prepping our boat for extended/offshore cruising. We've got a classic manual SL Seatiger 555 windlass; it has a rope drum on one side, and a chain gypsy on the other side. The total rode is about 60 meters (200 feet) of chain, on to which is spliced about 30 meters (100 feet) of rope. I never realized our gypsy was a chain-only type until one day, in a far-off anchorage, we had most of the rode out, i.e., we were on the rope part, which we'd never used before, only ever having run out the rode as far as the chain. Preparing to leave as conditions were getting very swelly, I began taking in rope using the rope drum side of the windlass. Then, as I cranked the windlass, up came the rope-chain splice out of the water, and because of the swelly conditions, it was very difficult to transfer the rope-chain splice part of the rode to the other side of the windlass so that the gypsy could do the hauling. Long story short, in the process, I nearly got my fingers caught under the rope (or chain; can't remember which, but it hurt!) on the windlass. We finally managed to transfer the load to the gypsy side of the windlass and got the chain and anchor in, thankful not to have had a serious medical accident (in what was a somewhat remote area).

It was only later that I realized that we should have a combination rope-chain gypsy on the windlass, so that if we're ever on the rope part of the rode, it can be hauled up using just the gypsy, allowing a seamless and easy transition to the chain part of the rode (I.e., haul in the entire rode on the gypsy, not using the rope drum on the other side of the windlass.)

Is this a common feature of windlasses? I.e., combination rope-chain gypsies? I'm considering upgrading our gypsy to a rope-chain type, but at over $400 for one, it's not a purchase I want to make unless I'm sure it's a necessary one (given that it's all too easy to believe that this or that piece of gear is "necessary" for a long-range cruising boat). Based on my experience, though, it seems like a combo rope-chain gypsy is the way to go. Or am I not considering something? I just don't see the use of the rope drum on the windlass given that it's so hard to transfer the rope rode at the rope-chain splice from the drum to the gypsy side of the windlass. Thoughts or advice? Again, this is for a cruising boat where we might sometimes want to have more than 200 feet of chain out (and would rather lengthen the 200 feet of chain on the rode with 100 feet of rope rather than 100 feet of chain, which is quite heavy in the bow, and expensive.)
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Old 10-01-2015, 05:24   #2
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Re: Upgrading to a rope/chain gypsy? (From a chain-only gypsy)

I remember getting caught out the same way as a kid once, very dangerous with a big sea running in a deep roadstead. Since then I have been wary of using rope and chain like that, but maybe a simple solution would be to use a chain hook and a long snubber led back to a primary winch (or a block and tackle) to get enough slack in the chain to safely feed it back onto the gypsy without any load on it?

Another way might be to secure the chain (chain hook, rolling hitch or similar) once the rope/chain joint is about to go over the warping drum. Then undo the turns on the warping drum and use your snubber, tied to the chain as far down the chain as you can safely reach, onto the warping drum to pull in some slack. This line could even be rigged when you deploy the anchor.

I guess the ultimate solution would be to leave a meter or so of extra chain tail free of the splice, or join the nylon to the chain like a snubber. This "tail" could be easily fed onto the gypsy and then the warp slackened off.

Cheers

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Old 10-01-2015, 05:35   #3
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Re: Upgrading to a rope/chain gypsy? (From a chain-only gypsy)

FWIW, my very limited experience of using line on a rope/chain combination gypsy is that the line has to have about 180 degrees of contact with the gypsy to get enough grip to hold. This is easy with a vertical windlass but not so easy to achieve with a horizontal windlass. These usually have only 90 degrees of contact.

Apart from that, the combo gypsies I'm aware of normally grab only one size / style of line (just like an all chain gypsy only fits one size chain). Make sure your line will suit it!
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Old 10-01-2015, 06:08   #4
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Re: Upgrading to a rope/chain gypsy? (From a chain-only gypsy)

I would sooner spend the money on more chain, give the size of the boat. In addition to reasons other s have given, the the rope/chain splice does not always transition flawlessly.

While you will still have some rope backing the chain, perhaps, it will be much further from the anchor and much easier to swap the load when (rarely) needed.
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Old 10-01-2015, 06:11   #5
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Re: Upgrading to a rope/chain gypsy? (From a chain-only gypsy)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wotname View Post
FWIW, my very limited experience of using line on a rope/chain combination gypsy is that the line has to have about 180 degrees of contact with the gypsy to get enough grip to hold. This is easy with a vertical windlass but not so easy to achieve with a horizontal windlass. These usually have only 90 degrees of contact.

Apart from that, the combo gypsies I'm aware of normally grab only one size / style of line (just like an all chain gypsy only fits one size chain). Make sure your line will suit it!
We have been using a horizontal windlass for 12yrs with rope and never had a problem with the 70-80 degree contact area pulling it in. Even under load. Perhaps your gypsy was bad?

They do take limited sizes of rope - typically 5/8" for 5/16-3/8" chain, but it is fairly inexpensive to buy new line of the correct size if needed.

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Old 10-01-2015, 07:47   #6
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Re: Upgrading to a rope/chain gypsy? (From a chain-only gypsy)

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Originally Posted by colemj View Post
We have been using a horizontal windlass for 12yrs with rope and never had a problem with the 70-80 degree contact area pulling it in. Even under load.
Ditto. Has worked for us for 16 years. In our case we run rope and splice through the windlass every time. We do cut off the splice and a few feet of rope, reverse the rope, and re-splice after each summer's cruise.
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Old 10-01-2015, 08:37   #7
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Re: Upgrading to a rope/chain gypsy? (From a chain-only gypsy)

There's a reason to have two spools, both a gypsy and a wildcat, on your windlass. That's because one is good for hauling rope, the other is good for hauling chain. I think you will find that any combination of the two will turn out to be a compromise, and a compromise is not what you want under serious conditions.

I also think that any sort of "seamless and easy transition" will turn out to be a compromise as well. What you want here is a big, lumpy, thimbled and well-served eye splice and shackle that you can rely on.

Make yourself a "nip", or short length of line with a chain hook on the end to stop the line while you're transferring your anchor rode between spools. You will find other uses for it aboard as well, so maybe make two.

[And keep your fingers well away from all winches and belays! There is a safe way to do this. Do not use fingers! Use palms only. Ask an old salt, or a young one how to do this properly. Also don't use full gloves, if any at all. You can get a finger caught where you can't pull it back out, and be left to stand there as it gets crunched. Don't ask me how I know, just think about how well you'll be able to handle things if you let this happen to you.]
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Old 10-01-2015, 09:38   #8
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Re: Upgrading to a rope/chain gypsy? (From a chain-only gypsy)

[Another way might be to secure the chain (chain hook, rolling hitch or similar) once the rope/chain joint is about to go over the warping drum. Then undo the turns on the warping drum and use your snubber, tied to the chain as far down the chain as you can safely reach, onto the warping drum to pull in some slack. This line could even be rigged when you deploy the anchor.] Best answer from Snowpetrel!!!

Another thing to do is let 6/10 feet of chain [that is behind the snubber] fall making a loop[which will hang below the snubber in the water] this will decrease the amount of scope needed, ie lowers vertical pull on the anchor. It is shown if you Google images, and englishman taught me this trick.
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Old 10-01-2015, 14:04   #9
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Re: Upgrading to a rope/chain gypsy? (From a chain-only gypsy)

Quote:
Originally Posted by colemj View Post
We have been using a horizontal windlass for 12yrs with rope and never had a problem with the 70-80 degree contact area pulling it in. Even under load. Perhaps your gypsy was bad?

They do take limited sizes of rope - typically 5/8" for 5/16-3/8" chain, but it is fairly inexpensive to buy new line of the correct size if needed.

Mark
Possibly or perhaps my experience was too limited (as stated) or maybe a poor line; anyway thanks for enlightening me
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Old 11-01-2015, 10:44   #10
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Re: Upgrading to a rope/chain gypsy? (From a chain-only gypsy)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Snowpetrel View Post
I remember getting caught out the same way as a kid once, very dangerous with a big sea running in a deep roadstead. Since then I have been wary of using rope and chain like that, but maybe a simple solution would be to use a chain hook and a long snubber led back to a primary winch (or a block and tackle) to get enough slack in the chain to safely feed it back onto the gypsy without any load on it?

Another way might be to secure the chain (chain hook, rolling hitch or similar) once the rope/chain joint is about to go over the warping drum. Then undo the turns on the warping drum and use your snubber, tied to the chain as far down the chain as you can safely reach, onto the warping drum to pull in some slack. This line could even be rigged when you deploy the anchor.

I guess the ultimate solution would be to leave a meter or so of extra chain tail free of the splice, or join the nylon to the chain like a snubber. This "tail" could be easily fed onto the gypsy and then the warp slackened off.

Cheers

Ben
Thanks, everyone, for the feedback. Seems there's no "obvious answer", of course! (Shoulda known!) Some here have had no problem hauling up chain/rope with a combination rope/chain gypsy; others feel that a combination rope/chain gypsy is a compromise in performance and that it won't haul rope well. Someone else suggested that I add more chain so that the times we actually need to go as far as the rope are rare --but I really don't want to add more weight forward by adding, say, 100 more feet of chain (200 feet of chain is a lot already; and my steel boat is too heavy already !). Another suggestion is to use a chain hook arrangement to take the load while the rode is transferred from the rope drum side of the windlass to the gypsy side. (I think the reason the problem happened in the first place was because it was a *very* deep anchorage and once the rope part of the rode had been brought in, the entire length of chain and anchor were hanging free in the water --very heavy to be able to transfer weight to other side of the windlass-- plus there was a big swell running, which made it even harder. Maybe the solution is to avoid very deep anchorages where this could happen!)

Anyway, I'd like to have a system that works without additional "stuff" - without having to use, say, a chain hook. Simply put, I want something that could feasibly be used in a bad situation - e.g., singlehanded, at night, in big swells, where you need to get the anchor up relatively quickly. In short, (relative) ease of use. That's what my experience with bringing in the combination rode taught me before - things can get bad quickly!

Snowpetrel, I'm trying to envision exactly what you mean by the "ultimate solution| maybe being leaving an extra tail of chain free of the splice? I think you mean splicing the rope to the chain with a warp to chain splice (like here: BlueMoment - Articles), but doing it at a point a meter or more from the end of the chain so that once you bring in the rope part of the rode (on the rope drum side of the windlass) so that the splice is out of the water and near the bow roller, say, you can then grab the "tail" of chain that is hanging free, put it on the chain gypsy, slack off the rope, and then use the chain gypsy to haul in the rest of the anchor rode. Is that what you mean? I'd have to try this in reality to make sure the steps in my mind actually would work!
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Old 11-01-2015, 15:46   #11
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Re: Upgrading to a rope/chain gypsy? (From a chain-only gypsy)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jud View Post
Snowpetrel, I'm trying to envision exactly what you mean by the "ultimate solution| maybe being leaving an extra tail of chain free of the splice? I think you mean splicing the rope to the chain with a warp to chain splice (like here: BlueMoment - Articles), but doing it at a point a meter or more from the end of the chain so that once you bring in the rope part of the rode (on the rope drum side of the windlass) so that the splice is out of the water and near the bow roller, say, you can then grab the "tail" of chain that is hanging free, put it on the chain gypsy, slack off the rope, and then use the chain gypsy to haul in the rest of the anchor rode. Is that what you mean? I'd have to try this in reality to make sure the steps in my mind actually would work!
yep, thats exactly what I was thinking of. I can still see some potential problems with this setup, such as the "tail" getting caught on the roller as it comes over, and the splice and rope not feeding over the gypsy properly. on some setups with a decent bow roller and a good big chain gypsy it could work nicely. Other options would be to use a very secure chain hook or spectra strop to attach to the chain with a long enough "tail" to easily reach the gypsy before joint goes over the roller. Like this:
  1. You Pull the warp up until the chain hook is near the roller.
  2. Boathook the chain tail and lead it onto the gypsy.
  3. Ease the warp until the tension is on the chain on the Gypsy
  4. Pull up the chain, while easing the hook over the roller.
  5. Release the chain hook, and you are set to go as normal.

Still a bit of a fiddle, but as long as the chain hook/strop/knot is secure it should at least be safe. I have 70 meters of chain, and don't envisage having to do this kind of thing in the normal course of events, if its deeper than 20 meters I don't anchor there, but it's good to have a plan ready just incase. Normally if I was going to anchor in water deeper than that I would prefer to use a short length of chain and long rope, and just be wary of chafe.

I haven't played with a rope to chain gypsy, but I would be concerned about it's ability to pull the weight of 70 meters of chain and anchor hanging in deep water without slipping and chewing up the rope, but maybe they are capable of doing it?
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Old 11-01-2015, 16:48   #12
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Re: Upgrading to a rope/chain gypsy? (From a chain-only gypsy)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Snowpetrel View Post
.....

I haven't played with a rope to chain gypsy, but I would be concerned about it's ability to pull the weight of 70 meters of chain and anchor hanging in deep water without slipping and chewing up the rope, but maybe they are capable of doing it?
Again very limited experience but my vertical rope/chain gypsy will hold the line perfectly well without slipping with 50 metres of 8mm chain hanging free but I struggle a bit doing the same
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Old 11-01-2015, 18:38   #13
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Re: Upgrading to a rope/chain gypsy? (From a chain-only gypsy)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jud View Post
Thanks, everyone, for the feedback. Seems there's no "obvious answer", of course! (Shoulda known!) Some here have had no problem hauling up chain/rope with a combination rope/chain gypsy; others feel that a combination rope/chain gypsy is a compromise in performance and that it won't haul rope well. Someone else suggested that I add more chain so that the times we actually need to go as far as the rope are rare --but I really don't want to add more weight forward by adding, say, 100 more feet of chain (200 feet of chain is a lot already; and my steel boat is too heavy already !). Another suggestion is to use a chain hook arrangement to take the load while the rode is transferred from the rope drum side of the windlass to the gypsy side. (I think the reason the problem happened in the first place was because it was a *very* deep anchorage and once the rope part of the rode had been brought in, the entire length of chain and anchor were hanging free in the water --very heavy to be able to transfer weight to other side of the windlass-- plus there was a big swell running, which made it even harder. Maybe the solution is to avoid very deep anchorages where this could happen!)

Anyway, I'd like to have a system that works without additional "stuff" - without having to use, say, a chain hook. Simply put, I want something that could feasibly be used in a bad situation - e.g., singlehanded, at night, in big swells, where you need to get the anchor up relatively quickly. In short, (relative) ease of use. That's what my experience with bringing in the combination rode taught me before - things can get bad quickly!

Snowpetrel, I'm trying to envision exactly what you mean by the "ultimate solution| maybe being leaving an extra tail of chain free of the splice? I think you mean splicing the rope to the chain with a warp to chain splice (like here: BlueMoment - Articles), but doing it at a point a meter or more from the end of the chain so that once you bring in the rope part of the rode (on the rope drum side of the windlass) so that the splice is out of the water and near the bow roller, say, you can then grab the "tail" of chain that is hanging free, put it on the chain gypsy, slack off the rope, and then use the chain gypsy to haul in the rest of the anchor rode. Is that what you mean? I'd have to try this in reality to make sure the steps in my mind actually would work!
....sound's like you can make do with what you have>>or replace with a vertical one, I have the vet. and don't have a problem ( even with shackle's )But I just made do with what I had. I did look at some horizontal one's to update my old one and decided the Ideal I have is worth re-plating.
good luck on whatever your decision is. No mater which one you have it's always dice-y in weather !!!
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Old 11-01-2015, 21:17   #14
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Re: Upgrading to a rope/chain gypsy? (From a chain-only gypsy)

Quote:
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I haven't played with a rope to chain gypsy, but I would be concerned about it's ability to pull the weight of 70 meters of chain and anchor hanging in deep water without slipping and chewing up the rope, but maybe they are capable of doing it?
You anchor in 70 meters of water?????

I can't answer for that depth, but can relay that our rope to chain gypsy working on the rope can pull our boat upwind in 25kts in shallower water without slipping or chewing. Our previous windlass could also.

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Old 12-01-2015, 03:39   #15
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Re: Upgrading to a rope/chain gypsy? (From a chain-only gypsy)

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You anchor in 70 meters of water?????

I can't answer for that depth, but can relay that our rope to chain gypsy working on the rope can pull our boat upwind in 25kts in shallower water without slipping or chewing. Our previous windlass could also.

Mark
Not unless i've had a really bad day! Thats good to hear about the rope chain to gypsy, I guess I should re assess my veiws on them... I always thought of them as a bit of a gimmick. Cheers

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