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labatt 11-27-2006 03:47 PM

Thoughts - Chain vs. Brait?
I need to make a decision to buy 300' of chain or 300' of brait. Anchoring will be on Lake Champlain year 1 and Atlantic coast (Cape Cod, points north) year 2. Anchors to be used will include Delta Fastset, CQR and a Bruce. The boat is a Passport 40 and I have yet to decide on a new windlass. We're only going to have the boat for two years which is why I'm cringing at spending $600-$1000 for chain. With chafe protectors, what are the current thoughts on the durability and breaking strength of 5/8" brait vs. 3/8" or 5/16" chain? I'd use 40'-50' of chain plus the brait - not all brait. I'd love to hear some thoughts. Also, what about 3/8" vs. 5/16" chain on this boat (22,000 lb displacement)?


Cruisingdad 11-27-2006 04:15 PM


I think this discussion ranks right up there with the best keel typs that every sailor argues over, but, here is my opinion(s) and what I do:

I carry both.

I carry 250' all chain and use this as my primary. You can tie a line from the chain and cleat it off as a snubber to reduce the shock load. I am a big fan of chain for many reasons: 1) no chafe on rocks or coral, 2) excellent holding, 3) you "can" use less rode if the situation requires it.

I have come into many anchorages where the other sailboats ran all chain at about 5:1. If you have a "rope" rode, this scope could cause you to drag. If you put out 7:1, you might swing into another boat. However, if you come into an anchorage where the boats are swinging at 7:1, you can always let out more rode.

I also like having what I call a lunch hook and a rope rode for light days and/or afternoon stops. It is easier to work and easier on the fingers. I do have a windless, but it does not strain as much with the rope (though I have to keep pressure on the back side).

If you can, carry both. You should carry two hooks anyway with a differnt anchor for different bottoms.

Just my opinions.

- CD

Goodnewsboy 11-27-2006 04:26 PM

I have had an all-chain anchor rode in the past that gave excellent service.

The drawbacks to chain are associated with its weight. It will put a lot of it in the forward end of the boat and probably above the CG. It is also mighty heavy to recover and you will most likely require a windlass.

Lately, I have switched to a generous length of chain (perhaps equal to waterline length) and nylon for the balance. That puts the chain in contact with the bottom where it will resist abrasion, and the nylon stretches under load.

One last point. Chain eliminates the problem of chafe, while nylon requires watchfulness and careful application of chafing gear.

morganmike 11-27-2006 04:39 PM

From Setsail:
The one negative with Brait is that it will tend to catch on rough edges. This is not a good material to use around pilings.

I wouldn't think brait would be a good choice for anchor rode, however Major anchor windlass manufacturers recommend eight-plaited rope for superior operation. But notice that they recommend it for superior windlass operation, not for superior anchoring.

I can't imagine that a soft, high-snag line is going to serve you very well on anything but sand or mud. Any rocks or tree detrius on the bottom are going to tear the line up. Three-strand doesn't snag because the strands have a smooth aggregate surface. Also, nylon tends to harden with age and exposure to salt water, which would eliminate any flexibility advantage that new brait might have. And if you buy dacron brait, you lose the stretch factor that makes 3 strand nylon such an excellent snubber.

In my opinion, conservative decisions with regard to ground tackle are never money wasted. How much will you have saved when the boat drags onto the rocks?

On my Morgan 30 (10,500 lb dsp.) I run a 27 lb CQR with 100 feet of 5/16 inch chain backed by 200 feet of 5/8 inch three strand nylon. I found that I never put out less than 70 or 80 feet of rode, regardless, and so I figure I might as well put out 120 feet - the chain plus 20 feet of nylon as a snubber. This works well for me in LI Sound, where most anchorages are 10 to 20 feet deep (and rocky.) In the event I need to reduce scope, (never happens, even in crowded anchorages) I do carry a couple of nylon snubbers with chain hooks. Is this overkill? Maybe. But I sleep well, even in the squalls.

I did save some money by buying two 50 foot shots of chain at a consignment store and shackling them together. I don't have a windlass and I wire the shackles closed with monel seizing wire, so shackles in-line aren't a problem for me.

labatt 11-27-2006 05:30 PM

It's tough.. I want all chain and I know many of the advantages. My wife is having a problem with me spending 5 to 10 boat units on chunks of metal, but I get to make the final decision. I was just hoping - praying - someone would pipe up with "These days, a brait rode is just as good as an all chain rode!" Oh well. I know what I gots to do. I'm just not looking forward to telling the wife.

With regards to the other question... 3/8" chain vs. 5/16" chain for an all chain rode? Any thoughts on that?

camaraderie 11-27-2006 05:42 PM

Labatt...for your proposed cruising grounds and anchors...I don''t think chain or brait is needed. I would get 3 strand nylon as it holds up better and 50' of 3/8 BBB or HT chain. Chafe is not a big issue up north. Brait is easy to handle but expensive and 3 strand is long proven and will easily hold up for 2 years. Get a windlass that can handle rope & chain and enjoy more Molsen with the money you save!

Cruisingdad 11-27-2006 05:57 PM


Decide on your windlass before buying your chain/size. You can get a windlass for either, but my reccomendation is to buy them in synch. If you did not like the price of the chain, you really won't like the price of a 3/8 chain windlass. Of course, you can always tell the wife what I told mine: You are responsible for weighing anchor! She will be much more amenable to anything that will save her back (and your marraige).

I think the 5/16 would be fine. That is what I bought for mine. I have a Catalina 400, about 22000 lbs before the pots and pans. I will warn you though, I paid for the solid gold chain with studded diamonds, but all they sent me was this crappy galvanized chain (Grade 70, Hot Dip Galvanized High Test).

Enjoy pulling out the credit card. But remember this: the real fun won't start until you try to get 44 tons of chain down the dock in a push cart and try not to let it fall in the water or blow out your back!

- CD

ianhlnd 11-27-2006 07:05 PM


Ask yourself, do you like to sleep at night? If you do, a goodly amount of chain is the answer.

You see all those boats springing around their anchor, Booinngg in one direction then Sproooinnnggg in the other that's three braid.

Note: Booinnngg and Sproooinnnggg are ficticious representations of a boat springing on its rode, usually followed by SSSMMMaaaacccckkkk!

ebs001 11-27-2006 07:10 PM

Cam from his name Labatt I think he will enjoy a Labatt Blue or Bleu rather than a Molson. I have to agree though that all chain rode is a bit of over kill not to mention a helluva lot of extra weight and expense

btrayfors 11-27-2006 07:23 PM


As others have said, all chain is the way to go. I heartily agree. You can save a bit of money by buying less chain....200' or 250' is plenty, IMO.

Re: type and sizing, suggest strongly you go with 5/16" G40 (high test) chain. Pay special attention to the SHACKLES used to connect the chain to the anchor. Most shackles you see in the chandleries are not adequate; they are not as strong as the chain, and are the weakest link. Good shackles, made of alloy, are pricey but you can find them online for reasonable prices. Columbus-Mackinnon and Crosby both make very strong alloy anchor shackles. Buy the largest which you can fit (I believe 3/8" shackles will fit 5/16" G40 chain, and use a 7/16" or 1/2" shackle to link that to the anchor.

With an all-chain rode, it's a very good idea to use one or two bridles made of nylon line with a chain hook on the end. These are used after the anchor has been set to help absorb shock loads and to transfer the anchor load from the windlass to cleats on the foredeck. They also help keep the boat from "sailing about" at anchor. For your boat, 1/2" 3-strand nylon about 30 feet long would be sufficient for these.

You mentioned that you only expect to have your boat for 2 years, so price is a consideration. I understand that, but suggest you consider resale value also. A Passport 40 is a very high quality cruising boat, with a fine pedigree and much sought after if in good condition. If I were in the market for one and spotted anything other than first class ground tackle and windlass gear, it would raise alarms in my mind about how the rest of the boat had been outfitted and cared for.

For this, and for the very practical reasons noted above (peace of mine, keeping the Admiral happy, etc.), I would not skimp on ground tackle and windlass gear.

S/V Born Free
(also a Perry design)

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