Sailing ABC – A is for Anchor – Anchoring, V

Sailing ABC  by Marianne Wheeler

A is for Anchor – Anchoring, V

Cruising boats that lie at anchor for long periods of time and that are likely to anchor in rocks or reefs often use an all-chain rode. Many modern, larger boats do as well.

One good thing about all-chain rode is that the weight of the chain increases holding power by burying into the bottom and staying down flat so that the anchor remains parallel to the sea bed. Another good thing is that using all-chain avoids chafe on the rode as the boat is swinging, tugging and jerking on the anchor.

On the other hand, hundreds of feet of chain are quite heavy when stored on board and that affects the sailing performance of a boat and sometimes even its safety. My friend Salty Clay says that the weight of the chain, usually carried in the bow, front-loads and disturbs the boat’s balance and handling. Chain is also much harder to haul back on board and may require a windlass, a device that makes life at the bow much easier when weighing anchor.

For day sailing, the ideal rode is often a combination of rope and chain. A length of chain, maybe 10 or 15 feet between the shank and the nylon rope, helps the anchor dig in and stay down horizontally. It takes the brunt of merciless chafing on jagged ground while the nylon rope stretches above it and nicely absorbs shock loads on the boat.


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