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pdqaltair 10-28-2017 05:42 PM

What if No-Chain?
The "I Don't Get the ALL-Chain Thing" thread beat the positives of all chain to death. I used to have all-chain, with a bridle for snubbing, and I liked it.

There are also a lot of folks out there that anchor with no-chain. mostly small boats where the bottom is mud, but they do anchor. A few years ago I went to no-chain on my kedge, and boy was it a LOT easier to handle. I did add a special chafe leader for the first 20 feet. There are also performance boats that rightfully despise chain. There are sailors with no windlass that despise chain. There will be posters that say they don't care about weight if they sleep better, but for every boat that has a spec of carbon fiber, aluminum, or Dyneema, the designer though weight mattered and you should to. [BTW, I really hate the "I sleep better" phrase--you either understand the engineering of the system and go to sleep, or you don't and you stay awake. If you sleep and don't really know what is going on, I think that is strange. What allows you to sleep is psychology.]

I cruised many thousands of miles on a Stiletto 27 some years ago, often for weeks at a time. There was a token of chain, but mostly it was all line. I solved the yawing problems, so the boat did NOT wander at anchor, no more than other folks. I didn't chafe the rode, in part because the boat was light and in part because it sat quietly, even though the bottom was often shell.

So let's pose the reverse question.

If there were no-chain, what would you use for a no-chain rode (can be multiple materials) and how would you use it? Would you use a chafe leader of some sort? Would you use two anchors more often? Does it change your anchor selection? As boats get lighter we should explore ways to loose easy pounds. Of course, cleaning out the lockers and cutting back on sweets make a lot of sense too. If you've got a heavy boat and huge tanks, well, either think about you dinghy or move on to another thread. I've had a big boat and I don't think any of us need to hear those (valid) arguments again. We know them, just not here.

Arcb 10-28-2017 06:23 PM

Re: What if No-Chain?
Good thread.

I don't use any chain at current and I don't have chafe issues. The boat is just so light, I anchor in shallow water, I seek protection from wind and current. My background is in commercial towing, big stuff and I have used both fibre and cable for towing (never used chain for towing anything other than farm equipment), I have anchored plenty with chain. So I'm a little bit familiar with how the materials respond in different situations, but not an expert (no laboratory testing or in depth knowledge of construction, engineering etc.).

I don't have much to say on anchors, I use traditional anchors, because I can get them used cheap, but there are surely better options.

If Nylon, I think Id go double braided and keep an eye out for chafe. When towing we used to use some kind of Kevlar cored nylon, but I cant remember (and possibly never knew) the brand name, but it was good stuff, it would stand up under load pretty well. I think there are some pretty good nylons out there, where, the outer sheath is designed more for chafe resistance and the core for strength, but don't know brand names. Might want to check climbing (mountaineering) suppliers in addition to yachting suppliers

The other option that might be worth considering is polyester, it doesn't have the elasticity of nylon but seems to be a little more chafe resistant, and it seems like chafe is a little more detectable by sight (maybe due to the lower elasticity). I don't think elasticity is as big of a deal with a small boat, but I am not sure.

For chaffing gear, I think the key is to go with organic materials. I frequently here gripes about the performance of fire hose as chafe gear, but I think they may be using rubberised or synthetic hose. If you use the outer protective sheath, the canvas bit, it works really well because it absorbs water for cooling and breaths really well. Even better than canvas, in my opinion is leather chafe gear, if you have access to scrap leather some how.

On the elasticity front, you can fix some kind of weight to partially sink your rode, it will work a little bit like a counter weight on an elevator to reduce surge. I use a 10 lb mushroom anchor for this purpose, but other things would no doubt work as well (maybe there is a product just for this).

So, a bit of rambling there, I use a really simple system, double braid to a traditional anchor,
however, if I was doing a trip with a lot of anchoring in gnarley conditions on a small boat, I might go with something like a fairly good quality heavy anchor of your choice (heavier than if you used chain), a heavy polyester line (heavier than recommended), leather chafe gear, a hard thimble at the anchor, and a mushroom anchor to act as a counter weight (or Kellet).

Faster 10-28-2017 07:34 PM

Re: What if No-Chain?
How about using leaded (sinking) prawn trap line for the first 50 ft or so, then perhaps a kellet and conventional nylon?

capta 10-28-2017 07:40 PM

Re: What if No-Chain?
I might set my Northill SS anchor w/o chain, in the proper bottom with a great deal of scope, as a #4 hurricane anchor, and feel pretty confident that it would set and hold. We used them from the Mexican border to Alaska on the trollers with a cable rode and they did hold well in weather bad enough to force us to seek shelter. I don't remember ever dragging, but it was long ago and I was just a deck hand.
I don't think I would trust any other anchor we have to set and hold in bad weather, without at least some chain.

pdqaltair 10-28-2017 11:45 PM

Re: What if No-Chain?
Lots of good thoughts. Some counterpoint:

Polyester. I did some testing with polyester doublebraid for articles on snubbers. With the typical shallow water amounts (<100 feet) it was a jackhammer if there were any waves or gusts. No catenary and no stretch. But perhaps it would make perfect sense for the first 20 feet or so. 3-strand polyester could be spliced to 3-strand nylon to make a leader. Interesting.

Kellet. My problem with kellets is that now the nylon must rest on the bottom, where it can snag on something sharp. This is different from the case of a chain leader, where the rope generally floats up under load.

I'm not convinced how much a chain leader has to do with anchor holding in severe weather. I've done a LOT of anchor testing, and under high load in shallow water, the chain is nearly straight (deep water and all-chain are a different topic). If there is enough scope--easy to do in shallow water--then the anchor will hold, independent of chain. At least in my neighborhood (Chesapeake Bay) there is very little reason for a light boat to anchor in more than 5-6 feet of water and long scope is thus easy.

Chafe gear. For several years I have been experimenting with a 20-foot chafe leader consisting of a loose webbing cover over a Dyneema core. The webbing moves and is not under tension, so chafe and cutting have been very low. It's hard to cut something that doesn't hold still.

Noelex 10-29-2017 04:40 AM

Re: What if No-Chain?
There are some cheap Dyneema materials (or more correctly HMWPE as Dyneema is a trade name) appearing on the market because the Dyneema patents are expiring. Acera is one such rope.

These show a lot of promise. The main advantage is better chafe protection than traditional fibre rodes. There are problems that need to be overcome. It floats and the lack of elasticity means a snubber is needed. Attaching the snubber is not easy.

There are ways of overcoming these problems, but the solutions are not ideal.

I dive at anchorages and it is surprising the amount of debris that I see, some of which could cut easily through line. So although the chafe protection of Acera is still well below that of chain, it still some appeal over nylon or polyester despite the drawbacks.

If this is for a primary rode there is still the complication of swinging differently to other boats. The swinging problem is solvable with kellets, but with all these extra difficulties there has to be significant advantage in reducing the weight.

Minnewaska 10-29-2017 06:24 AM

Re: What if No-Chain?

Originally Posted by pdqaltair (Post 2051262145)
...[BTW, I really hate the "I sleep better" phrase--you either understand the engineering of the system and go to sleep, or you don't and you stay awake. If you sleep and don't really know what is going on, I think that is strange. What allows you to sleep is psychology.]......

This is a silly criticism. The point is, which system can handle more unknowable variables, without being monitored (ie. sleeping). That's engineering and scientific analysis. The point could as easily be made, by going ashore for dinner. Unknowable variables, such as chafe, did the keel wrap, what is the aged strength of the rope or splice, etc. You can't even realistically know the set is false around here, by diving on it, due to visibility and water temps. If the wind is blowing less than 10kts, there is literally nothing that will put my 1/2" chain on the shore. The bloody anchor could fall off and I still wouldn't drag that far. That can't be said for rope, albeit, I'm certainly not saying chain is the only valid choice. I'm just addressing your sleep issue.

I know you want a thread focused on all rope rode setup. You could maximize those odds by not poking folks in the eye.

ScottUK 10-29-2017 06:39 AM

Re: What if No-Chain?
Many years ago I had the use of a 17' tinny to fish that came with a Danforth with an all line rode. It has been so long I do not remember the composition of the rode. I used the boat in a couple of large rivers. When I would anchor I would let out rode and look at the angle of the line until I thought it was Ok, The boat did not have a depth sounder and I would always be anchoring in a current. Have letting out the rode I would back down on the anchor. The line typically would be stretched fairly tight when anchored because the boat was so light. A lot of times I would start dragging when I was waked by another boat. I did experiment with the scope with little effect. I doubt if I would have had as much trouble if the anchor had a segment of chain. This made me wary of all line rodes and, conditionally, Danforth anchors.

Arcb 10-29-2017 09:34 AM

Re: What if No-Chain?

Originally Posted by pdqaltair (Post 2051262817)
Polyester. But perhaps it would make perfect sense for the first 20 feet or so. 3-strand polyester could be spliced to 3-strand nylon to make a leader.

Kellet. My problem with kellets is that now the nylon must rest on the bottom, where it can snag on something sharp.

Splicing nylon to polyester- I don't see why not.

On the counterweight issue, not necessarily. Say you are anchored in 5 feet of water, you've got a 5:1 scope out, 25 feet of rode out. You could set the counterweight at just 4 feet. If its a big enough counterweight, especially something like a mushroom with decent hydrodynamic resistance when pulled through the water, I think it can provide some decent shock absorption, without holding your line on the bottom.


Originally Posted by Minnewaska (Post 2051262865)
did the keel wrap,

I see what you are getting at, but I don't think we are talking about boats that are burdened by the weight, drag, draft and wetted surface area of a keel. Think 9 or 12 inch draft.

Which also means not anchoring in anchorages, when you have that kind of draft, you aren't playing by the same rules as cruisers, you can anchor wherever you want. I have anchored my current boat in 2 feet of water, its pretty easy just to look down and see whats there, although, I am not sure what tides are like on the Chesapeake, so I don't know if that is possible there.

sesmith 10-29-2017 08:48 PM

Re: What if No-Chain?
Our Seaward 25 is pretty light. In the Great Lakes and Fingerlakes, where we live, I've always used all braided nylon rode with a 25' chain leader. No issues with anchor holding with our 25 lb Mantus, regardless of what we use for rode. We took a trip to Penobscot Bay, Maine, this summer. With the 10-11' tides up there and the prevalence of rocks, I added another 75' of chain to the leader for a total of 100' chain and 130' nylon.

Normally, with our shallow draft, we can usually anchor closer than boats we find in an anchorage when we pull in. We found that you don't do that in Maine, if you anchor at high tide, due to the huge rocks that show up at low, even if you calculated 5' at low.

We found our boat sails less at anchor with all-chain rode and snubber. I felt better about possible chafe of the rode with all chain out. No windless on our boat, so the extra chain came off once we got home. Rope rode is certainly easier on my back, and we don't need the extra weight in the anchor locker.

I think a lot of the all chain vs rope argument depends on where you're sailing, and the size / weight of the boat you're on.

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