What packs in anchor locker better? Nylon or Chain? - SailNet Community
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What packs in anchor locker better? Nylon or Chain?

I have had an electric windlass installed. I wanted 200 ft. of nylon plus 50 ft. of chain. The boat yard took it upon themselves to give me only 175' of nylon. The reason quickly became obvious: there is not enough fall room. In fact, even 175' turns out to be too much, for the space allowed. I have a partition in the locker; I was trying to leave space for my secondary rode. It's looking like I may have to remove the partition, in hopes that if the pile can spread better laterally, then I will be able to get what I want in there, for my primary rode. I may have to just keep my extra rode in a rode bag on deck (ugh).

Be that all as it may, my basic question at this point IS THIS: which, after being brought in by the windlass, will fall and pack in more tightly? 5/8" plaighted line, or 5/16" chain?

I am thinking that maybe if I went to all chain, or at least a much larger chain-to-nylon ratio (say 125' of each), perhaps that would pack in better. I THINK that the chain will pack more compactly, but I don't really know.

Also, this initial test (on land) was with brand new, dry nylon. If the rope was wet (and therefore heavier), would it pack in tighter? In relationship-world conditions, obviously the rode would be wet.

In my test, almost all of the nylon went thru the windlass before jamming when the chain was a foot or two away. I went below and found that the pyramid of nylon had reached the bottom of the windlass. Before any of the 50' chain even got there!

I do think that if, say, I cut back to 150' of nylon, then the nylon pyramid would be short enough; and then, when the chain arrived it would, with its weight, pack the whole rode down better, maybe even allowing for all of the 50' to go in. ??? What say you?

Any suggestions for me, in general, regarding this dilemma?
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Re: What packs in anchor locker better? Nylon or Chain?

All chain... fits and fills weird volumes of chain / anchor lockers.
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Re: What packs in anchor locker better? Nylon or Chain?

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All chain... fits and fills weird volumes of chain / anchor lockers.
Sander is bang on (as were your instincts). Chain of similar size will always pack in tighter, and will fall easier.

Unless weight up front is an issue, or you don’t have a reliable windlass, all-chain rode is usually preferred. Although, rope/chain certainly can work fine, and does has some nice benefits, like not needing a snubber.

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Re: What packs in anchor locker better? Nylon or Chain?

Thanks so much, Sander and Mike!

My boat displaces 11,500 lbs. I don't think 200 ft. of 5/16" chain (186 lbs., I believe) is too much up there, do you?

Or, I am wondering if I might be able to fit 150' of chain and 50-100 of nylon. Then I'd have built-in snubber when I put out a lot of scope.
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Re: What packs in anchor locker better? Nylon or Chain?

I’d say it depends on displacement AND the design of your boat. One way to see if it matters is tie up to a quiet dock and measure the impact on your bow when the rode is loaded vs unloaded.

My boat is 30,000#. I carry 250’ of 3/8” in the bow, along with a second rode (60’ 3/8” chain and 200’ nylon). My boat is both heavy, and my chain locker moves the chain a bit aft of the bow. This weight has no measurable impact on my boat.

Sander’s boat is likewise very heavy.

At 11,500# your boat is considerably lighter, so 186# pile of chain at the bow may have an impact on your boat. But it may not. I wouldn’t dare to say either way from a far.

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Re: What packs in anchor locker better? Nylon or Chain?

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Originally Posted by mainemandean View Post
Thanks so much, Sander and Mike!

My boat displaces 11,500 lbs. I don't think 200 ft. of 5/16" chain (186 lbs., I believe) is too much up there, do you?

Or, I am wondering if I might be able to fit 150' of chain and 50-100 of nylon. Then I'd have built-in snubber when I put out a lot of scope.
186 lbs is the same as one person standing on the anchor locker while you are sailing. doubt you will be able to tell the difference

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Re: What packs in anchor locker better? Nylon or Chain?

That was my thought, overboard (great handle!). Thanks. Pretty much exactly my own weight with foulies and boots on.
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Re: What packs in anchor locker better? Nylon or Chain?

For the gear you have, it sounds like you need a bigger locker: remove the partition. Hoping that wet line will pack better, or that chain will tamp it down is nice, but for the amount of line & chain you have, there are too many "ifs". If you want to work that way, then you could also figure that the 175' of rode you got could stretch to 200', under load. With 50' of chain using a rode 7x the depth is likely OK, so the desired setup of 250' would allow anchoring in water almost 40' deep before needing any reserve rode. If your harbors are deeper than that, you may need even more rode, and an even larger locker to stow it in. Additional nylon anchor line is simple to stow in mesh bags (keeps it aired out & helps keep it dry) and not to heavy to carry forward when it's needed.

Last edited by paulk; 4 Weeks Ago at 12:25 PM.
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Re: What packs in anchor locker better? Nylon or Chain?

Thanks, paulk. I appreciate your input.
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Re: What packs in anchor locker better? Nylon or Chain?

Don't forget the nylon line will get much stiffer with time and salt and it will not coil down at all well. Keep some nylon to go with your #2 and chain, but it might need to be stored otherwhere than the anchor locker.
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