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Old 28-07-2020, 09:59   #1
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Anchor Chain vs rope!

I have recently brought a Swan 40 and was preparing to go away for the weekend and checked the anchor chain.

What surprised me was it only had about 5 meters of chain and then moved to rope. I am not sure I would trust rope attached to the chain 100%. I am not sure why the previous owners did this, I suspect could be reduces noise in the cabin while anchored.

Is this unusual as yachts I have been on all have chain and not rope.
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Old 28-07-2020, 10:07   #2
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Re: Anchor Chain vs rope!

That's an unusually small amount of chain for the size of the boat. All chain is common as it eliminates concerns for chafing on rocks, coral, etc. on the bottom. But depending on where you travel, you don't necessarily need 300 feet of chain either. A smaller amount of chain (100 - 200 feet) and then rope for deep anchorages will work in many places, as long as you don't need to anchor anywhere deep that also has coral.

When using rope, pay attention to chafe protection where it comes off the boat, etc. and monitor its condition at every use.
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Old 28-07-2020, 10:23   #3
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Re: Anchor Chain vs rope!

For cruising, yes that is very unusual to the point of unheard of for such a large boat. But I suspect the previous owners did much more racing than cruising (if at all) and didn't want the weight of the chain. For them the anchor was probably just an emergency brake.
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Old 28-07-2020, 10:34   #4
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Re: Anchor Chain vs rope!

Anchor chain is almost a religious thing. Some people (most?) swear by it. However, a reasoned look at it can give a different view.


In places where chafe on the sea bed is a concern, it becomes much more necessary. However, in many other parts of the world, it's more of a preference. Here on the Chesapeake, where the most abrasive thing on the bottom is an oyster shell, there are many 40-foot boats with mostly rope. 3-10 meters of chain, and then rope from then on. As a general rule of thumb, rope twice the size of the chain is about the right size -- 5/16 G4 chain backed by 5/8 nylon. Nylon will, unless it tangles with coral or rock, last a very long time. My last boat came with rope, and it was probably 10 years old or older when I got it. I actively sailed most weekends all summer for 12 years, and it still looked fine. Nylon has some advantages:
* No need for snubbers, kellets, or similar kludges whose primary purpose is to help chain handle surge like nylon. (yeah, go to chain, and then work hard to make it as good as nylon!).
* Much less weight in the bow. Like hundreds of pounds.
* Easier if you don't have a windlass (my last boat was 34' or 11M, used a 15kg anchor and rope, and I had no problem hoisting by hand).
* Much quieter at anchor


Don't read this as a rail against chain. Just that it's not an absolute. Like most things boat related, everything is a compromise. Our new boat, a 43' (13M) Saga has 300' or 100M of 5/16 G4 on a windlass lifting a 25KG Rogna -- I'll NEVER hoist that by hand! Number 2 anchor is 20M of chain followed by 100M of rope, connected to a 50 lb plow.


Go sailing. Watch your anchor rode (be it rope, chain, or a futuristic force field), and know that there is no perfect answer to anything, but Sundowners can be nearly perfect.
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Old 28-07-2020, 10:51   #5
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Re: Anchor Chain vs rope!

5 meters is more than enough chain for most places. In the Chesapeake you don't need more than 2 or 3 feet, if any chain.
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Old 28-07-2020, 10:53   #6
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Re: Anchor Chain vs rope!

Quote:
Originally Posted by sailingharry View Post
Anchor chain is almost a religious thing. Some people (most?) swear by it. However, a reasoned look at it can give a different view.


In places where chafe on the sea bed is a concern, it becomes much more necessary. However, in many other parts of the world, it's more of a preference. Here on the Chesapeake, where the most abrasive thing on the bottom is an oyster shell, there are many 40-foot boats with mostly rope. 3-10 meters of chain, and then rope from then on. As a general rule of thumb, rope twice the size of the chain is about the right size -- 5/16 G4 chain backed by 5/8 nylon. Nylon will, unless it tangles with coral or rock, last a very long time. My last boat came with rope, and it was probably 10 years old or older when I got it. I actively sailed most weekends all summer for 12 years, and it still looked fine. Nylon has some advantages:
* No need for snubbers, kellets, or similar kludges whose primary purpose is to help chain handle surge like nylon. (yeah, go to chain, and then work hard to make it as good as nylon!).
* Much less weight in the bow. Like hundreds of pounds.
* Easier if you don't have a windlass (my last boat was 34' or 11M, used a 15kg anchor and rope, and I had no problem hoisting by hand).
* Much quieter at anchor


Don't read this as a rail against chain. Just that it's not an absolute. Like most things boat related, everything is a compromise. Our new boat, a 43' (13M) Saga has 300' or 100M of 5/16 G4 on a windlass lifting a 25KG Rogna -- I'll NEVER hoist that by hand! Number 2 anchor is 20M of chain followed by 100M of rope, connected to a 50 lb plow.


Go sailing. Watch your anchor rode (be it rope, chain, or a futuristic force field), and know that there is no perfect answer to anything, but Sundowners can be nearly perfect.
Thanks kindly, very informative. The join where the rope meets the chain will always be a worry as could be a weak link if you excuse the pun!

We are in Jamaica so the sea bed can vary.
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Old 28-07-2020, 11:11   #7
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Re: Anchor Chain vs rope!

The connection of rope to chain is not necessarily a weak link in terms of strength. The problem with the joint there is that it is a potential point of chafe on rocks or coral or debris and can lead to failure. That point is more vulnerable since the weight of the chain will more likely hold it down on the sea bed. In sand or mud, no problem.
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Old 28-07-2020, 13:00   #8
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Re: Anchor Chain vs rope!

How much chain you want will depend on your anchoring grounds.


Perhaps the boat was raced, and the owner was a racer.


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Old 28-07-2020, 16:28   #9
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Re: Anchor Chain vs rope!

It's a Swan... not uncommon. Keep her light! What year is she? Would love to see a photo!
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Old 28-07-2020, 16:40   #10
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Re: Anchor Chain vs rope!

Yes you keep an eye on the chain link where the rope thimble attaches as that wears.
We survive with chain rope combo in NZ fine but if I was in a place with coral I would have all chain despite the weight.
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Old 28-07-2020, 18:01   #11
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Re: Anchor Chain vs rope!

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Originally Posted by Compass790 View Post
Yes you keep an eye on the chain link where the rope thimble attaches as that wears.
We survive with chain rope combo in NZ fine but if I was in a place with coral I would have all chain despite the weight.
She is a Nautor 86. Lovely yacht, sails wonderfully.
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Old 29-07-2020, 05:07   #12
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Re: Anchor Chain vs rope!

Awesome boat
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Old 29-07-2020, 05:41   #13
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Re: Anchor Chain vs rope!

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It's a Swan... not uncommon. Keep her light!

Yea, this.

And guys, properly done the rope to chain splice is near 100% line strength - it should not be a (significant) weak point (properly done)
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Old 29-07-2020, 06:03   #14
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Re: Anchor Chain vs rope!

Lovely boat! I have 25 ft of 3/8" chain and 200 ft of 1" nylon rode, and a 50 pound Danforth. Mostly Chesapeake Bay, but sail to New England, and usually anchor out. Weathered a few good storms at anchor. Never dragged, and no shock loading.
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Old 29-07-2020, 06:11   #15
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Re: Anchor Chain vs rope!

I should mention I have no windlass. I haul the anchor by hand (one my daily exercises while cruising).
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