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Old 06-17-2017, 08:39 PM   #1
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Replacing Anchor Chain - Suggestion on Rode

Last year we took our first long term cruise to Nova Scotia. Had a great time up in Maine anchoring out around the many islands of the down east. I figure that our anchor was in the water for approximately 80 days continually during the trip. The chain, original with the boat, is 11 years old.

Upon inspection as we started this year, the chain is a mess, the outer surface totally disintegrated (black flacks all over my anchor locker). I guess now that the chain is in the water almost on a continual basis, this degradation is normal(?) In any case time to change the chain.

I plan to go with grade 43 5/16 from West Marine (not sure, is that ACCO?). My question though has to do with anchor rode combination. I currently have all chain. I am thinking of going with a combo of maybe 120 ' chain, 180 ' rode. Any suggestions? Should I just stick with all chain (so heavy).

Thanks, Dave
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Old 06-17-2017, 09:07 PM   #2
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You will get lots of opinions from very experienced folks that will be completely at odds with each other.

Combination rodes are fine and have some real advantages. As you point out they are lighter weight but they also have more stretch which means you don't need to worry about a snubber/bridle. A combination rode is also less expensive. Three strand nylon is relatively cheap and easy to replace as needed.

My sailboat has 90' of chain and a couple hundred feet of three strand. My trawler has 300' feet of chain.

In your shoes, I would likely go with the solution that my windlass is setup for. If your windlass can easily move from rope to chain, then consider that combo rode.
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Old 06-17-2017, 09:21 PM   #3
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If weight is a factor, go combo rode. If not, go all chain. In the cost of boating, all chain versus combo is an insignificant difference. If I were going combo, the chain might be 40'. What's the weight difference for using 180' of robe versus chain.

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Old 06-17-2017, 11:02 PM   #4
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I have a combo gypsy with 120 ft chain and 240 ft Brait rode. I like it and find it a good fit for my boat. But if I need to replace the Brait, it'll be replaced with all chain since my boat could handle more weight up front.

If I didn't have a combo gypsy, I'd go with all chain.
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Old 06-18-2017, 12:00 AM   #5
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All good advice, but one question was not asked. Where do you plan to boat? More Maine and Nova Scotia? If this area is anything like the "Inside Passage" I use all chain rode. I have 550 feet of it. The reason is strength and the bottom I am anchoring in (rock, sticky mud) along with weather.
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Old 06-18-2017, 12:56 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FlyWright View Post
I have a combo gypsy with 120 ft chain and 240 ft Brait rode. I like it and find it a good fit for my boat. But if I need to replace the Brait, it'll be replaced with all chain since my boat could handle more weight up front.

If I didn't have a combo gypsy, I'd go with all chain.
Another aspect, Al, is just how often you would actually have enough out to get to the rope part. I suspect very seldom, I know I never have more than 100ft chain out - not ever. So you would always need to use a snubber anyway, the one slight advantage I could see of a mixed rode. But it would have to be one with so little chain you'd always have a bit of rope out to realise that convenience of not needing a snubber.

Having had mixed rode on smaller sail boats, given the option I'd certainly favour all chain every time except in vessels under 30ft, or where you have to anchor regularly in very deep water.
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Old 06-18-2017, 01:17 AM   #7
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It's true that often I'm on all chain with a snubber (< 120 ft) but there are times in the bay or just for extra security while fishing that I let out 180-210. This puts me past my splice and allows a rode tie to my pulpit cleat. Usually, my fishing grounds are 25-35 ft so 120' seems to work well for me. Sometimes I go just past the splice so I just have to tie off the rode w/o a snubber.

I have no hawseholes so when I snub, I use a single 1/2" line that plays out through my bow roller. It's very simple and almost a no-brainer.
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Old 06-18-2017, 02:58 AM   #8
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A good, well designed combination rode setup is nice, and has advantages over an all chain setup; - but it often takes a bit of trial and error to get it working flawlessly. It required the right windlass, the right rope, the right splice, and the right anchor locker design.

An all chain system is simpler, and better than a poorly thought out combination rode.
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Old 06-18-2017, 04:39 AM   #9
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....It required the right windlass, the right rope, the right splice, and the right anchor locker design. An all chain system is simpler, and better than a poorly thought out combination rode.
Exactement..! Our case rests, as they say - whoever, 'they' are...
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Old 06-18-2017, 06:58 AM   #10
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Plus, when weight is a concern, calculate the difference using wet nylon, not dry.
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Old 06-18-2017, 07:54 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AusCan View Post
... It required the right windlass, the right rope, the right splice, and the right anchor locker design.

An all chain system is simpler, and better than a poorly thought out combination rode.
Quote:
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Exactement..! Our case rests, as they say - whoever, 'they' are...
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Old 06-18-2017, 07:55 AM   #12
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If you are not going to visit coral areas 5 ft of chain and all nylon is really EZ to live with.
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Old 06-18-2017, 08:36 AM   #13
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Exactement..! Our case rests, as they say - whoever, 'they' are...
"Our case rests"
Get real Pete. This will never rest.

Example;
I spent years boating in Alaska and never used over 20' of chain and haven't dragged. Chapman says "a short length of chain".
I'd say case closed but I know better.
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Old 06-18-2017, 09:23 AM   #14
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Very good points being made here.

As usual, a lot depends on where you tend to anchor. Around here, a lot of my anchoring is in 25 to 40 feet counting the distance to the anchor roller. Since I normally use 5-1 scope, I usually am putting out 125-200 feet of rode. This is where the 90' of chain on the combo rode on my sailboat worked well. I usually had enough nylon out to negate the need for a snubber.

If you typically anchor in less water, then less chain would work better.
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Old 06-18-2017, 10:13 AM   #15
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Is weight an issue?
What about your windlass and gypsy?

I have a vertical windlass with wildcat and gypsy so I can use either easily.
In Maine I did find that when anchoring in deep, 100' water, I used the combo rode (50' chain, 250' nylon 3 strand rode.

But 99% of the time, I use my all chain, 3/8" BBB. I have 400' of it.
My anchor locker stays dry so I don't have real rust issues.

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Old 06-18-2017, 11:35 AM   #16
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But 99% of the time, I use my all chain, 3/8" BBB. I have 400' of it.
My anchor locker stays dry so I don't have real rust issues.

Richard

That is one advantage to a chain rode. Both my boats have anchor lockers above the waterline that drain well. The all chain rodes gets rinsed with fresh water upon retrieval. The combo rodes gets washed down when back at the dock. The chain rode dries relatively quickly, the combo rode not so much. The nylon line holds the moisture longer.
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Old 06-18-2017, 03:17 PM   #17
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I have used all chain and different combinations of chain rode including short chain. Aside from abrasion on sharp coral or rock both can work well. I find the choice of anchor and where one sets the anchor and scope much more important to the point that the type of running gear hardly matters so long as it is sturdy and protected from chafe. I have had a broken windless with all chain necessitating a buoy and latter retrieval. I occasionally use a second anchor with very short chain and all rode which with a wind shift often becomes the primary holding anchor and over > 50 years including periods of six months of continuous gunk holing has never failed due to a lack of enough chain.
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Old 06-19-2017, 06:18 AM   #18
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One joy of short chain is that if it fits between the anchor and windlass the chain does not have to fit the windlass.

So big heavy chain can be used .
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Old 06-21-2017, 08:50 PM   #19
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Dhays mentioned that I would get many opinions on this subject and he was right. However, all of the various opinions made good points and noted experiences with their method, so I thank all who offered.

I can note that:
My boat has an above water anchor locker with good drainage. Also, as the boat was delivered new with all chain (240'), weight in the bow is not an issue that I've ever noticed. Also, my windlass (Lewmar) will take both chain and rode.

You never know, but I can reasonably be assured that we will probably do most of our boating on the eastern waterways, including rivers, from Florida to Canada. So, with exception of various parts of Maine and on the rivers, the bottom will be mostly sand and mud.

Chain / Rode: There are 2 good points that are relative to me. First, the "less need" for a snubber. Second, the ability to pull in the line by hand (although still not easy) and to tie the line to a deck cleat.

The other, not mentioned here, but brought up in conversation at West Marine, was should the anchor get snagged and your in a dangerous situation, you can cut a line.

Should I go with a combo, I'm not sure why some have gone with long lengths of chains (120 '). Is this based on calculating the chain being "on bottom", to avoid abrasion to the line?

On the other hand, I've had all chain for 11 years and it has worked. It also offered a shorter scope (maybe that's why those with a combo have a long length of chain?).

It's not often in local waters that use any more than 60 feet of scope. That also has been my experience for most gunk holes down the eastern shore. But in Maine, we did from time to time let out up to 180 - 200. Even at BI, if we're not successful at getting in to the shallows before every else, we have to anchor in 30-40 feet water.

I have a week to make up my mind and I again thank all for their input. Seriously, there really is no wrong answer.
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Old 06-21-2017, 08:55 PM   #20
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Hi Dave,

Just a quick question. Can you tell why your trawler has all chain? Would you consider a combo when replacing or stay the same. It would help, basing on the size and weight of your boat compared to mine.

Thanks, Dave
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