Windlass technique: use messenger/snubber line with chain? - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 61 Old 08-08-2016 Thread Starter
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Windlass technique: use messenger/snubber line with chain?

Our new (to us) C34 has a very nice windlass. Although I have not used it yet, it's identical to the ones on other boats that we've chartered, so I have some familiarity with its pluses and minuses. It is designed for rope rode, with no gypsy to accommodate chain. Unlike chain windlasses, it pulls up only (not down). For lowering the anchor, you just wrap the rope it like you would a manual winch and let the rope slip out as you drop the anchor.

On the charters with heavy plow anchors and rope/chain rode, it was always difficult pulling the anchor in once past the rope. The last bit of chain needed some pretty hard manual pulling. And on midsize cruisers like the C320 and C34, it was always difficult getting the shank of the anchor under the furler drum - it required a horizontal pull angle that's perfect for the windlass, but a very bad angle for manual pulling. On of the charter checkout skippers said that I could just wrap the chain around the windlass, which did make it a little easier, though not without its own faults (including the risk of gouging through the chrome on the windlass or damaging the gelcoat behind the winch head).

I got to thinking about this, and I was wondering if it might be feasible to attach a rope to both ends of the chain, 18-24" longer than the chain itself. Call it a messenger line or snubber, or maybe there's already a term for this. When anchored, this rope would lie on the bottom adjacent to the chain (thus it would get rather muddy), so that the chain would function as normal while anchoring. But while pulling in the anchor with the windlass, once the rode was fully into the anchor locker, you could unwrap the windlass and do a few wraps with this snubber line. This would allow you to continue to pull the chain and anchor into the boat using line instead of the chain. The chain would drop into the anchor locker, while the rope would be wrapped around the windlass pulling the chain and anchor into the boat.

Have any of you heard of this before? What are the potential pitfalls that I have not anticipated?

My boat currently has an aluminum Fortress anchor, so manually pulling it in will be pretty easy. But I would like to replace it with a heavier "MansRocMant" at some time in the future, so having the windlass assist will be more necessasry.

Rick S., Swarthmore, PA
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post #2 of 61 Old 08-08-2016
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Re: Windlass technique: use messenger/snubber line with chain?

Why not replace the drum with a chain gypsy and go to all chain setup? The peace of mind is worth it.


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Re: Windlass technique: use messenger/snubber line with chain?

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Originally Posted by Bleemus View Post
Why not replace the drum with a chain gypsy and go to all chain setup? The peace of mind is worth it.
Not interested. It's not a drum swap. Since it's a one-way up only windlass, you'd have to replace the whole thing, which means major surgery in the anchor locker.

Plus, having chartered and borrowed boats with both all chain and rope rode, I am much happier with rope for a boat my size.

I'm open to comments on my original proposal.
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Re: Windlass technique: use messenger/snubber line with chain?

I suggest using a trip line to get the MansRocMant up. It will come up cleaner, easier, and this line will allow you to keep the chain where it belongs; as a leader to your anchor.

I had used this setup, until the float that I used failed, and then the trip line chafed through. I didn't loose the anchor though!



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Re: Windlass technique: use messenger/snubber line with chain?

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Not interested. It's not a drum swap. Since it's a one-way up only windlass, you'd have to replace the whole thing, which means major surgery in the anchor locker.



Plus, having chartered and borrowed boats with both all chain and rope rode, I am much happier with rope for a boat my size.



I'm open to comments on my original proposal.


Fair enough. My experiences with trip lines has always been bad so I won't use them anymore.

Find it odd that it is only one direction on the windlass. Wonder if there was a way to build a switch that reverses polarity to make it go both ways? Probably not worth trying as the gypsy conversion is likely a custom job.


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Re: Windlass technique: use messenger/snubber line with chain?

A one direction windlass is called a freefall windlass and is (was?) actually very common. You just ease up on the brake and the anchor and chain freefall out until you reach the desired scope. Our windlass does both and we rarely, if ever, use the power down function as it's way too slow to get one's anchor to the bottom where you actually wanted it.
Sorry, I can't help with your idea as I consider anchoring with all chain (with a snub line) a cheap insurance policy which allows me to sleep well at night.

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post #7 of 61 Old 08-08-2016 Thread Starter
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Re: Windlass technique: use messenger/snubber line with chain?

Quote:
Originally Posted by eherlihy View Post
I suggest using a trip line to get the MansRocMant up. It will come up cleaner, easier, and this line will allow you to keep the chain where it belongs; as a leader to your anchor.

I had used this setup, until the float that I used failed, and then the trip line chafed through. I didn't loose the anchor though!

That's exactly what I had in mind. The float is a nice touch because it keeps the line out of the mud. Then I could wrap the trip line around the windlass drum if I need mechanical assist for hauling in the chain.

Any other negatives to this arrangement?

Also a question about your 5/8" shackle. Is that a free-rotating shackle? My anchor currently has one, and my surveyor told me to remove it because it is a common point of failure. Is twisting a problem if you don't have it?

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Re: Windlass technique: use messenger/snubber line with chain?

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Originally Posted by capta View Post
A one direction windlass is called a freefall windlass and is (was?) actually very common. You just ease up on the brake and the anchor and chain freefall out until you reach the desired scope. Our windlass does both and we rarely, if ever, use the power down function as it's way too slow to get one's anchor to the bottom where you actually wanted it.

Sorry, I can't help with your idea as I consider anchoring with all chain (with a snub line) a cheap insurance policy which allows me to sleep well at night.


Makes sense as my experience has been on very large boats with two way windlasses or smaller boats with no windlass. Even large race boats with no windless. I agree about all chain wholeheartedly. If this is more than daysailing to you then getting to an all chain solution is the best course but to each his own.


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Re: Windlass technique: use messenger/snubber line with chain?

If you buy a plastic float, get a spare. They don't do well with UV.

The red one is the float that I had used;
I used to store it so that it was exposed to sunlight. It was pink in year 2, and white in year 3, and completely disintegrated by year 5.

If I had it to do over again, I would probably use a water ski marker and a carabiner. Something like this if it is not too big;
(you don't want too much bouyancy, just enough to hold the trip line up)

I did not use a swivel, and I agree with your surveyor.
This is a shackle:

These are swivels;


This setup worked well, until the trip line chafed through, because the float fell apart. Prior to that the only challenge was that the trip line was too long, and it could get tangled in the chain. If I had replaced the float, neither issue would have been a problem.


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Re: Windlass technique: use messenger/snubber line with chain?

Regarding the swivels, the problem with them is if/when there's any off-axis pull on the swivel. The only way to completely eliminate this is to put a short section of chain between the swivel and the anchor shank.
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