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Old 06-26-2011
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Anchor chain size & length

I came across another 'surprise' (although expected) on my new-to-me Contessa 26. I pulled out the mass of anchors, line and chain to see what the inventory actually looked like before going on our trip.

Fair enough, the spare Danforth has about 140' of 1/2" 3-strand line but without any chain. Not ideal, but workable in the Great Lakes as a spare for my small boat. It looks like the anchor, line and even thimble have seen some practical use.

However, the primary Bruce has 150' of rode, good condition nylon braid but attached to an absurdly thin chain that measures only 14'. A fellow, whom I trust, recommended 5/16" chain to replace it and at least 1.5x the boat's length.

My question is simply to verify that 5/16" chain and 40' is sufficient for my 26' Contessa. What would you use in my case if different?

To make this thread valuable to other members, feel free to add your opinion on what is an appropriate amount and size of chain for anchoring on your particular size of boat.

... The silver lining to this surprise is that I now have an appropriate sized chain for locking my dinghy motor.
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Old 06-26-2011
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It all depends on the locations you're anchoring and the composition of the bottom.

Here in Florida, we typically have skinny waters often covered by weedy bottoms. You often anchor in 7-9 ft of water. Adding your freeboard, usually means that 50' of chain and 100' of rode is AMPLE. I'd keep a minimum of 50' of chain since for durability and protection against what's down there.

As for anchors - I used to have a Lewmar Claw which is a Bruce knockoff. Worked great in mud, but if you hit the slightest bit of weed or seagrass, the anchor was useless.

Now, if I anchored in deep coves such as in the South Pacific - I'd have a completely different anchoring package.

I'm actually going to be upgrading my primary anchor package and make my Claw a backup anchor. Primary package will be 125' of 5/16 High Test + 150' of nylon rode on my Rocna 15.
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Old 06-26-2011
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Jordan

I think for a Contessa 26 5/16" might be larger than you need. I am installing a windlass on a 32' powerboat and he will be using 1/4" HT (grade 40) chain, which would be a good size for you as well. Safe working load is 2600 lbs and breaking is 7750 lbs.

40' or 50' should be plenty. Same as I will be using on my CS27.
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Old 06-27-2011
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50' of chain may be an acceptable minimum but I'd still push for twice that.

On the old girl, 34m (approx 100') of 5/16 was acceptable but I'd have preferred 50m. trouble is of course that more chain means more weight and on a relatively light boat like a Contessa 26 that is not good for sailing performance. 35m to me would be a nice compromise.

When I bought my previous boat (28' med displacement) she had around 20' of chain and we draged all over the place in anything other than perfect conditions. I increased that to 20m and had no more problems even when the anchor was a Danforth.
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Old 06-27-2011
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That would probably depend if there was a windlass or not. Without one an anchor of 25 or 30 lbs and 50' of G40 (37 lbs) is getting close to max - both for weight in the bow area and hauling by hand.
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Old 06-27-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mitiempo View Post
That would probably depend if there was a windlass or not. Without one an anchor of 25 or 30 lbs and 50' of G40 (37 lbs) is getting close to max - both for weight in the bow area and hauling by hand.
oh yes ... oh yes indeed. Our windlass died , and not just the electrics, with all 35m of chain on the bottom and getting it back on board was well nigh impossible for me at least. In the end got it up with the aid of sheet winches but not a fun thing to do.

Sorry, but i should have thought of that. I guess not many 26'ers have a windlass, certainly my 28'er didn't.
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Last edited by tdw; 06-27-2011 at 12:41 AM.
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Old 06-27-2011
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Like others have said it depends where you are and what conditions you anchor in. I live on the hook in the Caribbean often in anchorages where the bottom is littered with junk that would eat through rope rode in an hour.
Sometimes the depth is 50 -60 feet and in one place 180 feet.

So I have 200 feet of 3/8 chain followed by 200 feet of rope rode, times two. The boat is 44 feet long and I have an electric anchor windlass. Fairly normal for my cruising area but overkill if you only stop for lunch in Biscayne Bay.

Do bear in mind that one of the things you never hear said when a black squall is blowing through an anchorage with zero visibility and winds of 40+ knots is " I think we need a smaller anchor and less chain don't you?"
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14'-15' of 1/4" chain with 150' of 3/8 or 1/2" nylon rode is a standard anchor package for a boat that size. Will it work? probably. Is this package right for you? You have to know your anchorage areas and have an idea of what circumstances you would need/want to anchor before you can determine your own ground tackle needs. Keep in mind that chain is heavier than nylon and anchor rode ratio should be about 5-7:1.
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Old 06-27-2011
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For my 30' 6500-7000 lb fin keel boat, I have a 7.5kg/16.5 lb bruce with currently 16' of 3/16" chain and 250' of 1/2" 3 strand. Then again, here in Puget Sound, you are usually in 40-100' of water when you anchor, add in upwards of 14' tides......... lots of rode is nice. I do plan to go with a bit longer chain and one size up. To a degree, the more metal be it anchor or chain, the better the holding.

I've also been toying with a race hook on the bow with a 7lb fortress alum, about 4-5' of 1/4" chain and 3/8" line in the 150' length too. Race rules require a min 6lb anchor and 10'ish lbs of total chain and anchor for myboat, one figure out how to get the best appearance bang for the buck when racing, vs cruising.

If I was in the Caribbean, Oz or other places with coral, the more chain the merrier! I might look at 50-60' and an appropriate anchor that would catch in coral/rocky bottoms. Or if it does not catch per say, at least have enough anchor and chain such that the wt might hold me.

If you need to go thru a hurricane or equal, again, a different anchor wt and chain. probably something in the 30KG/50 lb anchor and 75-100' of chain depending upon depth etc.

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Old 06-27-2011
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Hard to disagree with the "more and heavier" suggestions. Also agree HPLou about the "standard" package for a boat your size. Remember that you ar going to have to get the chain and anchor up on deck each time, so there is something to be said for something that isn't too heavy. Assuming your anchoring requirements are similar to what we see here on Long Island Sound and southern New England, I would go with 15 to 30 foot of 1/4 inch chain and then switch what you have to the other anchor.
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