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Old 14-12-2008, 13:39   #1
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S Pacific anchorage depths and chain length

We plan on sailing to the S Pacific next year and are looking for info on the amount of chain recommended to safely anchor in the deeper spots. We carry 275 ft of chain on our primary anchor. One boat I know used this same amout all through the Pacific. It seems a bit short for any water deeper than about 50ft. We have a 55lb Delta as primary on our Island Packet 40. I have plenty more chain but don't like the idea of a shackle or other connection point between my anchor and my boat. Maybe I'm being too cautious. Any opinons from those experience anchoring in this part of the ocean will be appreciated.


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Old 14-12-2008, 16:43   #2
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275 is enough

We arrived in NZ a month ago. 275' is enough, we did it with 160' of chain attached to a 88lb Delta. (50' cat) We have another 200' of line but almost never used it. The fact is that everyone else is on 3-1 and you will not find room to let out your entire 275' in most cases. If you think you are right by going 5-1 in an anchorage full of 3-1 boats, you might rethink after seeing the havoc you create during a wind shift. The rules that are followed are he who anchors last is the one that must relocate, often in the middle of the night. While the Delta is a great anchor, boats with a Roca had the fewest problems. I will go the a Roca after crossing the pacific. The deepest anchorage (Bora Bora if I remember correctly) was around 100' but that was the exception, not the rule.
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Old 14-12-2008, 17:16   #3
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I agree with Dave. We also just arrived in New Zealand, after spending 6 months in the South Pacific. While both Bora Bora and Fatu Hiva (Marquesas) had depths approaching/ exceeding 100 ft, most anchorages were in the 15-30 foot range. 275' of primary chain is adequate. We carry 300', and a Delta 88. Never dragged, even in an un-announced 50 knots in Tonga, while short-scoped (70 ft out in 20 ft of water due to swing-room). Carrying additional rode, usually a few hundred feet of large-diameter 3-strand, is the norm here. It can easily serve as your stern-anchor rode as well.

Items I would rate higher than more chain (more than the 275' you already have):
1)A bullet-proof snubber system, with a back-up, that you can pay-out under load. These are CRITICAL to a good anchoring technique. Have a spare rigged and in place, and allow yourself lots of spare snubber-rode that you can pay out if you need to lay out more chain in the middle of the night. DO NOT FORGET chafe protection for the snubbers. Firehose is excellent.
2) An anchor more than suitable for your boat. "Good enough" isn't. When the merde hits the fan, and you are dragging in 40 knots, in a big chop, at 2:00 am, with driving rain and a lee shore looming, you will quickly get religion, and wish you had spent a few extra bucks on the right gear. Do it once, do it right.
3) The gear, and knowhow, to quicky add to you scope, deploy a second anchor, etc. In other words, plan your back-up and tertiary contingincies NOW, and make sure everyhthing will work in the heat of battle. Do the shackles fit the anchor shank? Can you quickly mate your back-up rode to the primary chain? Do you even have back-up rode??

Remember, these ideallic places can turn unforgiving... there is often no one around to help (or too busy taking care of their own situation), and sourcing ANYTHING there is next to impossible. Get the stuff you will need before you leave, while you have time, $, and a West Marine nearby.

Good luck, and enjoy the process.

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Old 15-12-2008, 12:42   #4
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It has always been my understanding that even with all chain a 3-1 scope is marginal in all but the calmest conditions. I understand your point of not being the only boat with a long scope. There was a couple in the Caribbean last season that routinely used 10-1 scope in every anchorage no matter how crowded. They were not very popular and most other boats nearby ended up moving just to safe guard there own vessels. The other couple apparently never heard of basic anchorage etticate.

We also carry 2 Fortress 37's, one with 75 ft of chain and 300 ft 5/8 line on a second bow roller. 2 spare 150 ft 5/8 rodes, and one 3/4 300 ft rode and various lengths of chain. We use all high test shackles and chain, no swivels as I have heard of too many failures.

I have lucked out and met via SSCA another couple who arrived in Australia from the states who are going to "sell" me all there western Pacific charts for the price of shipping and a case of cold ones.
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Old 15-12-2008, 13:06   #5
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I spent 4 seasons sailing all over the SoPac from '84- '95 during 2 separate circumnavigations. We carried 300' of chain with 250' of 5/8" nylon spliced to the bitter-end. I can only remember 1 time that we had to put out over 250' of chain and it certainly wasn't anywhere in the SoPac. It was at Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean where we had to anchor in 100' of water.

American Samoa can be a possible exception. If it is busy you may have to anchor in 50'. In that case, put out all the chain and additional nylon road with floaters to keep the nylon off the bottom. Don't use your best anchor there. There is a good chance that you may not get it back unless you are willing to dive for it and untangle it from all the crap on the bottom. It blows like hell in that place.

I can't remember a single time that we needed to anchor in over 30' of water in the SoPac. When we circumnavigated the South Island of New Zealand in '87, we had to take fisherman's moorings because the water was "bottomless" (over 300') in several areas.

Swivel failures are usually due to either using one too small (always go up one or 2 sizes) or poor seizing. I always used 1/2" swivels on my 3/8 chain. Not using a swivel at the anchor will drive you crazy if you're using a windless.

I would never leave my boat on less than 5:1 scope. I don't care what the conditions are at the moment.

BTW........if I had it to do over again, I would never leave the SoPac/Tasman. IMHO, it is the Cruising Paradise of the World.
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Old 15-12-2008, 13:45   #6
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Scope this out:

[quote=nukahiva;233530]It has always been my understanding that even with all chain a 3-1 scope is marginal in all but the calmest conditions.


First, we've been cruising full timein the south Pacific since 1990, and have had about 275' of 3/8" chain on both boats. This has always been adequate, even in the deep anchorages in the Societies and the Solomons.

We've found that the deeper the anchorage, the less the numerical scope ratio required for good holding. Consider that in the hypothetical 100' anchorage, if you deploy 275' of chain you must lift 175' of it off the bottom before the pull on the hook stops being horizontal. If there is room, we will routinely use 4+:1, and more under storm conditions, but in the real world 3:1 is often the most that there is room for. If this makes you uncomfortable,I'd suggest moving up to a bigger (and perhaps better design) anchor. They are a bit expensive,but peace of mind is worth a few bucks. And don't worry about the extra weight -- compared to the weight of the chain, an extra large anchor is an insignificant addition.


Jim and Ann s/v Insatiable II lying Gladstone Qld Oz
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Old 15-12-2008, 14:12   #7

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I gave a kid with a welding shop in Niue a set of paterns so he could build anchors for the cruisers. Let me kniow if he has done anything with them.
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Old 15-12-2008, 15:01   #8
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Hi, Vern. Welcome to Cruisers Forum!

Glad to hear you and Michelle are bound for the Pacific! Exciting news! Are you in the Caribbean yet or still in Baltimore? Lynne says, "Hi."

Best regards,
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Old 15-12-2008, 15:30   #9
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Small world

Hi Hudson; We are stuck in Baltimore this winter. As much as we would have liked to sail back to the Caribbean we need to work to build our cruising kitty. We tore a 20 foot rip in our headsail enroute to Dominica last season. The sailmaker in St Martin told us she could repair it to get us home but it was essentially "dead". So all new sails are on order, not to mention all the other boat stuff we will need. We do miss the warm winter weather down there, and the company of friends we have made in the islands.

Michelle sends her regards, tell Lynne hello

Vern & Michelle
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Old 15-12-2008, 19:33   #10
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I'm sure there are deep anchorages in Fatu-Hiva, but we anchored there at Hanavave bay in about 25 ft. I'm not trying to ressurect an old hot topic, but everyone there had bow and stern anchors, and we were packed pretty tightly.
Paul Elliott, S/V VALIS - Pacific Seacraft 44 #16 - Friday Harbor, WA
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Old 17-12-2008, 01:33   #11
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Originally Posted by Meridian View Post
We also just arrived in New Zealand, after spending 6 months in the South Pacific. John
Hi John!!!!!!!

Hi hope you Nancy, Maddie and Sohpie had a great trip!!!!

I have just been making Nicolle paint the bottom of the boat! LOLOL She is a blue Smurf!

Notes on a Circumnavigation.

Somalia Pirates and our Convoy
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