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Old 09-06-2016, 04:09 PM   #1
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Bolt Cutters

I have what I think is 3/8" anchor chain on my 42' trawler. Not sure whether it is the super hardened type or not. I want to purchase a quality pair of bolt cutters in case I have to cut the chain loose in a bad situation. Definitely looking for better quality than Harbor Freight. Any recommendations on where to buy them?
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Old 09-06-2016, 04:16 PM   #2
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Another method is to secure the end of the chain in the anchor locker with a length of poly line longer than the depth of the water you normally anchor in. If you need to cut loose, let the chain run free then cut the poly line. Since the line floats you can return later and retrieve your gear. This will be easier and faster than a bolt cutter.
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Old 09-06-2016, 04:33 PM   #3
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Another method is to secure the end of the chain in the anchor locker with a length of poly line longer than the depth of the water you normally anchor in. If you need to cut loose, let the chain run free then cut the poly line. Since the line floats you can return later and retrieve your gear. This will be easier and faster than a bolt cutter.

Yup, just takes a knife to cut through the line and can be done by anyone on the boat (i.e. Doesn't take much strength) and normal a sharp knife if a lot easier to put your hands on that bolt cutters stashed somewhere. Even if you didn't use a long length of Poly line, I think the line idea is a good one.
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Old 09-06-2016, 05:26 PM   #4
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Another method is to secure the end of the chain in the anchor locker with a length of poly line longer than the depth of the water you normally anchor in. If you need to cut loose, let the chain run free then cut the poly line. Since the line floats you can return later and retrieve your gear. This will be easier and faster than a bolt cutter.
That's how our boat is rigged, except we keep a small float (12" round fender) in a bow locker with 50' of floating line attached to a snap shackle. If we have to cut the anchor loose, it's a quick step to clip the line to a chain link. We can always fins it later.
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Old 09-06-2016, 05:30 PM   #5
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That's how our boat is rigged, except we keep a small float (12" round fender) in a bow locker with 50' of floating line attached to a snap shackle. If we have to cut the anchor loose, it's a quick step to clip the line to a chain link. We can always fins it later.
How is your chain attached in your chain locker?
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Old 09-06-2016, 05:41 PM   #6
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How is your chain attached in your chain locker?
The thread got a little hard to follow there for a bit. I believe he has a length of line connecting the chain to the hard point in the locker.
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Old 09-06-2016, 05:49 PM   #7
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How is your chain attached in your chain locker?
20' of yellow floating dinghy tow line.
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Old 09-06-2016, 06:08 PM   #8
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Both has by vote. Bolt cutters and line on the bitter end of the chain.

We have bolt cutters (I don't know the brand) but they are a pain but doable. Lena probably couldn't cut the chain. They're on the small side and big to store.

I'd go to a commercial rigging dealer. They cut chain and cable daily. See what they're using. I haven't had to use our bolt cutters other than on the dock but we won't cruise without them. If we hang-up and only have 40' in the of water, I'd hate to have to dump the other 260'. The cruise would be over at that point.

We also have a 6' foot section of line spliced into the end of the chain. In certain situations, cutting the line and dumping the 300' maybe the only option.
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Old 09-06-2016, 07:32 PM   #9
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Another method is to secure the end of the chain in the anchor locker with a length of poly line longer than the depth of the water you normally anchor in. If you need to cut loose, let the chain run free then cut the poly line. Since the line floats you can return later and retrieve your gear. This will be easier and faster than a bolt cutter.
That's what I have. 100ft of 5/8 floating poly . Attached to the chain and inside the locker.
Easy to cut and retrieve.
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Old 09-06-2016, 07:40 PM   #10
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We also have a 6' foot section of line spliced into the end of the chain. In certain situations, cutting the line and dumping the 300' maybe the only option.
This is one of the things that I have yet to do on my boat (there are so many things that I want to do!).

One of the thoughts I had was to make the length of line long enough so that it would just hold the chain on the gypsy. That way if I ever got distracted and let out too much chain it wouldn't go past the gypsy and make it harder to take the chain back in. It also would put a bit of line above the level of the deck so that it could be cut from there instead of having to open up the locker and cut it there.
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Old 09-06-2016, 07:40 PM   #11
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I have a cheap Harbor Freight electric cutoff wheel onboard that could cut a chain easier and faster than my bolt cutter from home, but I don't carry it for that purpose. I use 50 ft of poly line in the locker at the end of my combo rode. When I retied the chain-to-rope splice, I flipped the rope end for end and left a single link on the old splice. The poly ties easily to that link. The other end of the poly is loosely tied to a small 1x2 piece of wood to prevent inadvertent loss.
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Old 09-06-2016, 07:52 PM   #12
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I too have an electric cutoff wheel. Actually a battery powered grinder with different wheels, one of which is a cutoff wheel. A while back there was a thread on rechargable tool kits. This was part of a Makita set I got through Home Depot for about $500. All quality stuff that has now gotten lots of use. The cutoff wheel I think it much more versatile than bolt cutters - for example cutting off rusted anchor shackles, etc.
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Old 09-06-2016, 07:56 PM   #13
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I too have an electric cutoff wheel. Actually a battery powered grinder with different wheels, one of which is a cutoff wheel. A while back there was a thread on rechargable tool kits. This was part of a Makita set I got through Home Depot for about $500. All quality stuff that has now gotten lots of use. The cutoff wheel I think it much more versatile than bolt cutters - for example cutting off rusted anchor shackles, etc.
If the weather and seas are nasty and you need to get rid of the anchor and chain in a hurry, do you want to be digging out your grinder, finding and installing the correct cut off wheel, and then be trying to hold that to the chain while the boat is hobbyhorsing in the waves?

The tool sounds great, but not what I would choose to use for the OPs original question.
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Old 09-06-2016, 08:08 PM   #14
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Man, I hate the thought of leaving a poly line just floating in the water without a marker buoy. Of course I speak as someone who once picked up a big wad of that stuff in one of my props courtesy of some unknown slob. I just attached my chain in the locker with a suitably rated snap shackle with a lanyard for virtually instant release. Time permitting, I could have quickly attached a little pre-rigged anchor buoy I had in a deck box. Other wise put a mark of the spot on your plotter if one isn't there already (see the many "anchor alarm" threads) and come back with a grappling hook... even a big triple fishing hook on a rod and reel will do the job just fine.
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Old 09-06-2016, 08:20 PM   #15
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Cut off wheel in an arbor in my cordless drill. If you have a Fein tool (high speed oscillating tool), they make blades that will cut anchor chain. My Dremel tool also has a cut off wheel.

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Old 09-06-2016, 09:33 PM   #16
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Another method is to secure the end of the chain in the anchor locker with a length of poly line longer than the depth of the water you normally anchor in. If you need to cut loose, let the chain run free then cut the poly line. Since the line floats you can return later and retrieve your gear. This will be easier and faster than a bolt cutter.
That's pretty much the standard way of dealing with this potential problem.


The danger with a cordless tool on a boat is that the battery might be dead when you need it. Bolt cutters are expensive (decent ones), heavy, take some strength to use and are prone to rust.
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Old 09-06-2016, 11:01 PM   #17
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cut off wheel,agree with the chain locker attachment,but I don't think that was what the poster was asking.
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Old 09-06-2016, 11:58 PM   #18
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Chain is a bitch to cut with a hand tool. If after reading the above you still want a cutter, H. K. Porter 0590MHX is what you want. It is not cheap!
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Old 09-07-2016, 12:01 AM   #19
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wow,those cutters are 42 inches,tough to store.
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Old 09-07-2016, 12:19 AM   #20
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Note I didn't say it was a good idea. I just answered your question. That's what it takes to easily cut 3/8" chain. I use an abrasive cut off saw in my store to cut chain. H. K. Porter also make one with 36" handles that will cut 3/8" chain but it takes a lot of effort.
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