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Old 04-20-2014, 06:10 AM   #1
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All chain rode versus rope

Just an observation without any scientific study or claim that it settles any issue.

Yesterday was the second time this season that a partial rope rode broke on an anchored boat of close friends of mine. There were 30kt plus winds.

The first occasion was a month ago and the couple were aboard but sleeping. Through good fortune they missed the reef by a boat length and woke up to find themselves at the edge of the bay and surrounded by dinghies coming to the rescue.

Yesterday the couple were in town when their rode broke, fortunately it was during the day and a neighboring boat put out an alarm on the VHF radio. When I boarded their boat (after playing cowboy with a half mile high speed dinghy ride) I found that the rode had split 20 feet from the boat and thus the boat was not attached to the anchor.

After a half hour and with the help of several others who boarded the boat we anchored the boat using the boat's backup anchor and rode and gerrymandered a bridle.

What is important to me is that of a couple of dozen cruising boats in our circle of friends these two boats are the only two boats that use a partial rope rode. In both cases these are long time competent cruisers who anchor out more than 180 days a year.
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Old 04-20-2014, 06:46 AM   #2
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Breaking wasn't the fault of partial rodes though as many use them just as religiously an don't break. Could be many reason that they broke...but not just because of the design.

Because most all chain rode cruisers also use a snubber...it's like a combo rode for performance...just has a backup in there if the snubber breaks.

To me the ONLY reason to use an all chain rode in because it's the easies to do with a windlass...and before the combo windlass guys get all excited...I have use PLENTY of combo windlasses (wildcats capable of both chain/rope) and had too many slip if the rope or conditions weren't near perfect. I know...keep them that way but all chain is just easier in my book.

And washing it off as it comes up hasn't been an issue for me.
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Old 04-20-2014, 07:00 AM   #3
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>To me the ONLY reason to use an all chain rode in because it's the easies to do with a windlass<

To me chain is used because one is anchoring in coral and worry about Nylon being cut or abraded.

Usually no problem.

Everything on a boat has a service life , how old was the rode that failed?
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Old 04-20-2014, 07:45 AM   #4
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I had thought that the rode chain combo came from the sailing world were weight made, especially in the bow, makes a big difference.

On our boats, at least one anchor all chain is a necessity.
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Old 04-20-2014, 08:14 AM   #5
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I know lot's of sailors with bigger boats where all chain is used and I doubt there's ANY "boat" that needs all chain if you don't care to....but as you get big enough...the chain is integral to anchoring as in large ships where the anchor is tiny in comparison and the design is as much about stowing it in a hawse pipe as it is anything.
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Old 04-20-2014, 08:36 AM   #6
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Chain is not a requirement to stow an anchor in a hawse pipe , good design is required.

Our 90/90 uses the hawse pipe setup and its a delight to see 50 lbs of muck dry out and fall off into the water as the day goes by.

>On our boats, at least one anchor all chain is a necessity.<

A chain sized to handle ALL conditions would be huge 5/8 or 3/4inch or larger for a big blow that could be no problem with 1 inch nylon.

A few hundred ft of big chain and a windlass that can retrieve it probably is half the cost of many cruisers.
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Old 04-20-2014, 10:26 AM   #7
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Marty wrote;
" In both cases these are long time competent cruisers who anchor out more than 180 days a year"

The strength of nylon line is well documented so the fact that your friends lines failed indicates to me that they were not well maintained, was undersized or both. Perhaps they were anchoring from the bridge and not taking stock of the condition of their line as it came aboard or at other times. Perhaps the chain gypsy was damaging the nylon line over time. You mentioned they anchored 180 times. I never have trusted the line/chain combo setup. The line must be pinched w tremendous force to gain the friction necessary to pull large anchors and chain in bad conditions ... or even benign.

Many have said the nylon line works fine on the combo gypsy but I still doubt it.

In view of this perhaps the use of all chain is defendable. On bigger boats that is. I'm stick'in w basically all nylon. (15' of chain)

I suspect a big Claw anchor w no chain at all may perform adequately. Even I have never anchored w/o ANY chain. Has anybody here done that? Has anybody here noticed line damage from a combo gypsy?
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Old 04-20-2014, 10:34 AM   #8
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Rope doesn't last forever. New rope has a stated breaking strength and working load. As it ages or becomes damaged that strength will be less. It is important to inspect the rope from time to time and replace it when it shows signs of wear or damage. I had to replace mine.

There is nothing wrong with a rode made of rope and chain if properly sized and properly maintained.
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Old 04-20-2014, 10:44 AM   #9
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The manufacturer's recommended maximum weight load for a line, rope, crane or any other lifting device or component of a lifting device. The SWL is determined by dividing the minimum breaking strength (MBS) of a component by a safety factor assigned to that type and use of equipment. The safety factor generally ranges from 4 to 6 unless a failure of the equipment could pose a risk to life; in that instance the safety factor would be a 10. For example, if a line has an MBS of 1,000 pounds and a safety factor of 5, then the SWL would be 200 pounds. 1000 / 5 = 200. Also called working load limit (WLL).

Read more: What is safe working load (SWL)? definition and meaning
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Old 04-20-2014, 11:12 AM   #10
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Rope doesn't last forever. New rope has a stated breaking strength and working load. As it ages or becomes damaged that strength will be less. It is important to inspect the rope from time to time and replace it when it shows signs of wear or damage. I had to replace mine.

There is nothing wrong with a rode made of rope and chain if properly sized and properly maintained.
Ditto

We're trailer boat cruisers, mostly only for the summer in SE Alaska, so for us it seems appropriate to inspect, clean thoroughly to remove grit, cut off a few feet, reverse and re-splice our rope every fall. And I look closely at it almost every time we anchor. Our rode is 46' of HT 1/4" chain and 300' of 1/2" 3-strand. Boat is 26', 11,000 lb. We don't have the option to go all-chain - it would be far too much weight in the bow.

The rope seems to last about 6 summers, maybe 350 overnights, before it needs replacing. I let our first rope go a year or two too long, and actually saw it starting to come apart under use, just after we had anchored in 25-30 kn wind. We hauled it in, cut off some, and re-spliced. That was the one time it was apparently anywhere near failure, in maybe 800 overnights. I'm more conservative about replacing earlier now.

The rope's never looked like it was failing at the splice, and it doesn't skip at all on the gypsy. So it seems for us the problem is overall wear and tear, which eventually requires replacing the rope.
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Old 04-22-2014, 12:42 PM   #11
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There is nothing wrong with a rode made of rope and chain if properly sized and properly maintained.
In fact it could be considered the best way to go. Chain adds weight for canetary, abrasion resistance ( although chain can and has abraded through on coral or rock over time) and minimizing swing. Line adds shock absorption while keeping weight off the bow.

Scope, and lots of it, along with proper chafe protection are probably the most important things to have when anchoring and there is any chance of a blow.
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Old 04-22-2014, 01:03 PM   #12
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Great thread! I found out I only have 130ft of chain on ASD. With the plan for the inside passage, I think I will be going all chain. When I was in Prince William Sound (PWS) in Alaska, the norm was at least 600ft of rode. 600ft of chain is a lot, but I would feel safer in a storm with chain rather than rope.
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Old 04-22-2014, 01:21 PM   #13
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I know I've fought the all chain mentality for years and still believe it's flawed.

BUT ... Now that I'm down in the lower 48 chain has some appeal. Namely far far less swing. Anchoring w line in 50' of water at a 5-1 scope requires a 500' swinging circle. But w chain and mild weather that we experience most of the time the boat probably won't swing more than 50 to 100'. Much much less swing space required.

In Alaska we usually anchored by ourselves or w one or two boats. Down here anchorages are crowded and it occurred to me that I may be better off anchoring w a short (150') all chain rode w a good short scope anchor like a Claw. Could keep it on the bow lieing in the bow roller channel and roller. The chain in the chain locker per usual practice.

A second rode would be carried in a box on deck as I do now w no chain and 500' of nylon used w one of several lightweight anchors w very high holding power.

The all chain rig would be much like an everyday light duty rode that would be used most of the time. Not exactly a lunch hook arrangement but inbetween. If weather came up suddenly I could always attach the line rode to the chain and sit out the weather at 10-1 scope.

No reason why the chain rode anchor on the bow could'nt be very big like a 44 pounder. Big for my 30' boat.

If you get over the shock of me talking about using a chain rode what do yo'all think?
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Old 04-22-2014, 03:17 PM   #14
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In a real blow I don't think I would want to have to go on deck to attach a line to a chain under strain and then hope all goes well when it comes time to pay it out.

I think the size and type of anchor you have out is perhaps more important in short scope situations then whether you have all chain rode or not.

And a claw is about the last anchor I'd want out in a storm. To much chance of dragging.
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Old 04-22-2014, 04:04 PM   #15
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Quote:
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You mentioned they anchored 180 times. I never have trusted the line/chain combo setup. ?
Eric

Just to clarify, the two boats are at anchor more than 180 days a year, not that they anchor 180 times a year. The first boat spends perhaps 180 days at anchor and the second boat perhaps 350 days per year at anchor. In the Caribbean it is not unusual to anchor and stay put for a month.
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Old 04-22-2014, 05:55 PM   #16
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Yesterday was the second time this season that a partial rope rode broke on an anchored boat of close friends of mine. There were 30kt plus winds.

The first occasion was a month ago and the couple were aboard but sleeping. Through good fortune they missed the reef by a boat length and woke up to find themselves at the edge of the bay and surrounded by dinghies coming to the rescue.

When I boarded their boat (after playing cowboy with a half mile high speed dinghy ride) I found that the rode had split 20 feet from the boat and thus the boat was not attached to the anchor.

What is important to me is that of a couple of dozen cruising boats in our circle of friends these two boats are the only two boats that use a partial rope rode. In both cases these are long time competent cruisers who anchor out more than 180 days a year.

Do you have insight into why the ropes broke? 30 knot winds doesn't explain it...

And just having a combination rope/chain rode isn't enough to 'splain why the ropes failed.

Too small? Old? Chafe? (Either on the boat or underwater?) Other?

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Old 04-22-2014, 06:32 PM   #17
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I have had both systems on various boats. Rope / chain in the same locker invites rust to get to the rope at which point it should be discarded. My fear with all chain is the inability to ditch your anchor in a hurry especially when I am alone. I have line at the bitter end but I am still required to pay the whole thing out b/4 I can cut it free. That makes me nervous sometimes in a tight place.

I agree with manyboats, experienced as these cruisers were, their rode needed replacing and they didn't know it. It could be rust, bleach, deck cleaner, sun, whatever.
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Old 04-22-2014, 06:53 PM   #18
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If you think it takes a while to get ride of 200' of chain....don't...on freespool with my windlass or just yank it off the wildcat...that chain is gone in maybe a minute.....or as fast as you can run and get a knife or to the throttles and back again to cut the tag end. I have 100 feet of poly on the end so when I come back to look for it...hopefully there's a bit floating on the surface.
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Old 04-22-2014, 07:22 PM   #19
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I have 100 feet of poly on the end so when I come back to look for it...hopefully there's a bit floating on the surface.
That's a good idea, hadn't thought of that before.
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Old 04-22-2014, 09:22 PM   #20
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Great thread! I found out I only have 130ft of chain on ASD. With the plan for the inside passage, I think I will be going all chain. When I was in Prince William Sound (PWS) in Alaska, the norm was at least 600ft of rode. 600ft of chain is a lot, but I would feel safer in a storm with chain rather than rope.
We carry 600' of rope plus 100' of chain.

I'd go for a all chain setup, except that we often anchor for fishing in 300' of water and my windlass won't reliably break out and lift 300' of chain plus our 30 kg anchor.

BTW we're going shrimping first trip out weekend after next. Thought you might like to know.
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