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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
The Chesapeake is an amazing cruising ground but --like most-- I could do without the mud that the chain comes up with when you weigh anchor. You can wash it off with a hose but better do that hanging over the pulpit, or you sluice the whole mess down your deck. And forget about it if you are single handing without a windlass (that would be moi).

In really bad cases, when most of the links are filled with solid mud, I have kind of sawed the chain over the roller up and down, to loosen some of the mud into the water before it gets to the deck. Kinda works but it gets pretty old when you have to do that with 100' of chain and your arms only (moi again).

I think I discovered the solution to this problem this weekend. I anchored in Fairlee Creek (deep mud!) and, given the early sunset this time of the year, after dropping the hook and before drifting off to sleep I had lots of time to think about life, the universe, and anchoring. The problem seems clear: Over night (or longer), the chain sinks deep into the mud and collects the crud. The solution then presents itself: Before getting the chain up, you want it washed off with water. You could use the washdown hose, but why rely on its tiny stream (which, as discussed, furthermore washes the mess onto your decks) when you have the water of the whole ocean at your disposal?

So I did an experiment, and it worked absolutely beautifully: Before walking up to haul up the chain, I went smartly in reverse, with the goal of lifting the whole chain off the seabed, and out of the muck. Similar action as when setting the anchor with the motor. Does not hurt to have the boat come up somewhat hard against the anchor, to get the chain really straight and fling off the mud. After that, just go forward and collect the chain as usual.

Did it work? BEAUTIFULLY, better than my wildest expectations! There was no mud at all on the chain, right until the anchor itself came up. The water that dripped off the chain was a bit dirty but not a single link had any mud embedded. I will do that always from now on.

Caveats/Points for discussion:

1) Is this a new idea? Probably not; this seems too obvious a solution to a known problem that it is highly unlikely that I am the first person in history to have it discovered. Many have probably done it before. I just have never read about it previously, so I thought I would offer it for discussion.

2) I have done this exactly once. It worked absolutely perfectly but was it a fluke? Needs to be repeated.

3) This time, I had only 50' of chain down (only 5.5' of water, and a very quiet night forecast). If you have much more, you may have to do the maneuver more than once to get all the chain straight: Go back with the engine, get chain up until it gets muddy, get chain straight again, repeat.

Thoughts?
 

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My concern is the load on the windlass, since the snubber is probably not attached for this. But I'm going to try this. I often raise and lower the last bit a few times.

I wonder if it might be somewhat effect to simply come up on very short scope (2:1?) and wait a few minutes.
 

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Nothin' beats a high pressure / high flow wash down pump!

'The admiral' for many years was a co-editor of one of the popular Chesapeake Bay cruising guides. We've probably anchored in 95% of the 'gunk holes' on the bay. Before installing a quality 'wash down pump', I used to hand rinse the chain by pulling it in so that chain would rapidly lift off the bottom in the hope of clearing the muck. Depending on the season (!), sometimes it worked but many times it didn't; and thus, we expended a lot of time using buckets to laboriously dowse the muck off the chain .... and the deck .... and ourselves.

A high quality high volume/high pressure wash down pump is the ultimate.
It can also be the 'nuclear option' when in 'water balloon fights' .... when you'd otherwise be 'losing' the battle. ;-)
 

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Discussion Starter #5
My concern is the load on the windlass, since the snubber is probably not attached for this. But I'm going to try this. I often raise and lower the last bit a few times.

I wonder if it might be somewhat effect to simply come up on very short scope (2:1?) and wait a few minutes.
Well, I suppose you set the anchor by going backwards with the engine. Whatever you do to protect your windlass in that case (use a chain hook, a snubber, whatever), do the same when you do the mud slinging maneuver :wink

As for coming up on very short scope, what are you going to do WHILE you are coming up to very short scope? In my example of about 5' depth, a 2:1 scope would have been ~10' of chain. What should I do with the 40 muddy feet of chain that come up in the process of getting to that 2:1 scope?
 

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Discussion Starter #6
How about a long handled brush, and scrub it at the surface as she comes . . . .a bit at a time . . .
Maybe. Assuming you have a lot of time and --more importantly-- someone to do the scrubbing. Not really an option if you are pulling up the chain alone, by hand. Which is what I am (usually) doing.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Nothin' beats a high pressure / high flow wash down pump!

'The admiral' for many years was a co-editor of one of the popular Chesapeake Bay cruising guides. We've probably anchored in 95% of the 'gunk holes' on the bay. Before installing a quality 'wash down pump', I used to hand rinse the chain by pulling it in so that chain would rapidly lift off the bottom in the hope of clearing the muck. Depending on the season (!), sometimes it worked but many times it didn't; and thus, we expended a lot of time using buckets to laboriously dowse the muck off the chain .... and the deck .... and ourselves.
If you have an 'admiral' (or any other crew) to direct the water stream onto the chain, this is probably a good solution. I do have a washdown pump but (usually) not the personnel to operate it.

I did not understand the second part of your posting: "I used to hand rinse the chain by pulling it in so that chain would rapidly lift off the bottom in the hope of clearing the muck." Are you saying you basically did what I am proposing, but by hand instead of by using the motor?

And, continuing, are you saying that it sometimes worked, sometimes not, depending on the season? Could you elaborate?

As I said, I have a statistics with N=1 so it is quite possible that I got lucky that time but I would like to know some more details. Thanks!
 

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That sounds like an OUTSTANDING idea! Even if it doesn't remove all of the mud, it might significantly help in loosening it and make it easier to wash off with the hose. I'm definitely going to start using the technique.
 

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Depends on a few factors... but if you get the anchor clear of the bottom a by good distance, and haven't gotten to the muddy part of chain...

Pull till the mud is visible, lower about 5 ft, lock the snubber and then motor the boat slowly, dragging the anchor and chain through the water for a bit.

REALLY use the whole ocean to wash the chain and anchor...

There are of course times this isn't even practical to try. When conditions permit, it works well.
 

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A> If you have an 'admiral' (or any other crew) to direct the water stream onto the chain, this is probably a good solution. I do have a washdown pump but (usually) not the personnel to operate it.

B> I did not understand the second part of your posting: "I used to hand rinse the chain by pulling it in so that chain would rapidly lift off the bottom in the hope of clearing the muck." Are you saying you basically did what I am proposing, but by hand instead of by using the motor?

C> And, continuing, are you saying that it sometimes worked, sometimes not, depending on the season? Could you elaborate?

As I said, I have a statistics with N=1 so it is quite possible that I got lucky that time but I would like to know some more details. Thanks!
A> My wash down hose is connected adjacent to my vertical windlass (with its foot operated control push buttons adjacent to the windlass).
B> My 'snap-up' method with the chain was probably quite similar to your method. Since I could manually (by hand) and rapidly 'snap-lift' the chain, my method was probably more effective ... I think.
C>In 'muck', The differences are probably seasonal, as in mid summer there is a LOT of 'fibrous scum' growing on and in the top surface of the bottom; not so in spring and after the water again becomes colder and the bottom 'releases' its growing 'crud'. In summer the bio-species in the mud, seems to increase the 'sticky-ness' / adhesion of the muck.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
A> My wash down hose is connected adjacent to my vertical windlass (with its foot operated control push buttons adjacent to the windlass).
B> My 'snap-up' method with the chain was probably quite similar to your method. Since I could manually (by hand) and rapidly 'snap-lift' the chain, my method was probably more effective ... I think.
C>In 'muck', The differences are probably seasonal, as in mid summer there is a LOT of 'fibrous scum' growing on and in the top surface of the bottom; not so in spring and after the water again becomes colder and the bottom 'releases' its growing 'crud'. In summer the bio-species in the mud, seems to increase the 'sticky-ness' / adhesion of the muck.
A> Good on you! I have neither foot operated controls nor a windlass, just my arms and my back to get the chain and anchor up.

B>Hm, 'snap lifting' my anchor chain is not something that I am probably good at. In particular if there are 100' of it.

C>Yeah, perhaps I got lucky that I did that in October. Maybe my great discovery will fall apart in the heat of summer. We will see.
 

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Well, I suppose you set the anchor by going backwards with the engine. Whatever you do to protect your windlass in that case (use a chain hook, a snubber, whatever), do the same when you do the mud slinging maneuver :wink

As for coming up on very short scope, what are you going to do WHILE you are coming up to very short scope? In my example of about 5' depth, a 2:1 scope would have been ~10' of chain. What should I do with the 40 muddy feet of chain that come up in the process of getting to that 2:1 scope?

I attach a bridle before setting. A short snubber would work fine. I just wanted folks to know that slamming back against a windlass is dodgy and will shorten the life.

2:1 scope is more like 16 feet of chain (freeboard). Obviously the numbers vary with the situation.perhaps 3:1 (24') is a better number.

Do what you like. I've never really had a problem. Occasionally I lower 10-20 feet and rehoist, but that's about it.

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As an aside, if you are getting mud on 40' of chain in 5' of water and it is that sticky, you can use less scope.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I attach a bridle before setting. A short snubber would work fine. I just wanted folks to know that slamming back against a windlass is dodgy and will shorten the life.

2:1 scope is more like 16 feet of chain (freeboard). Obviously the numbers vary with the situation.perhaps 3:1 (24') is a better number.

Do what you like. I've never really had a problem. Occasionally I lower 10-20 feet and rehoist, but that's about it.

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As an aside, if you are getting mud on 40' of chain in 5' of water and it is that sticky, you can use less scope.
I agree with all your points.

And yes, I was a bit generous with the chain but not way too much: 5.5' of water, 3.5' freeboard, so my 50' was a bit more than 5:1. Slight overkill for a quiet night in the creek but not outrageously so.
 

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Never go to sleep on short scope. Murphy checks all anchorages for those boats.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Depends on a few factors... but if you get the anchor clear of the bottom a by good distance, and haven't gotten to the muddy part of chain...

Pull till the mud is visible, lower about 5 ft, lock the snubber and then motor the boat slowly, dragging the anchor and chain through the water for a bit.

REALLY use the whole ocean to wash the chain and anchor...

There are of course times this isn't even practical to try. When conditions permit, it works well.
Sounds like a good idea but more complicated than what I was proposing. Again, I don't know if the simple lifting that worked so well for me last week will always do the job, maybe at that point something more involved like what you are suggested will be needed.
 

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Tried your technique in the nortorius muddy bottoms along the NC ICW..Your not going to like my findings...
 

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What you describe sounds like it is easy to do each time you retrieve your ground tackle. We typically have to deal with gooey [glacial] ooze mud as well- very sticky as you describe.

One difference is our anchorages are typically much deeper [60-90 ft], so our all chain rode spends more time suspended in the water while being retrieved at ~40 ft/min. That pre-soak cycle helps loosen, but doesn't always remove the mud. So we almost always have to use the wash down pump. [We use raw water to blast the mud off, and rinse the chain pile with fresh water when we are finished.]

To help make that more efficient, we are experimenting with one of these cheap jet wands. I've heard from other credible sources they hold up a few years to salt water, and work surprisingly well... Ours is on order so I don't have first hand experience with this particular device to share yet...

On a previous boat, I rigged two similar venturi jets permanently below the bow roller assembly. The result was a cross-fire of two 90° opposing high pressure jets [spraying forward and down slightly] a few inches behind the chain as it came up. That dealt with 90+% of the goo, and I will likely rig something similar on this boat after experimenting manually. [This doesn't work as well if it is really blowing, however... meaning it creats more mess to clean-up... Reminds me of early advice we all received about not performing certain actions into a stiff wind...]

When the mud is really bad and we don't have time to drive in circles rinsing 50+ ft of dangling chain and anchor, I break out the portable pressure washer and blast it as it comes up. [~1500psi] That always works and uses a very small amount of [fresh] water to boot.

I hope your experiment pans out for you.

Cheers! Bill
 

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I agree with all your points.

And yes, I was a bit generous with the chain but not way too much: 5.5' of water, 3.5' freeboard, so my 50' was a bit more than 5:1. Slight overkill for a quiet night in the creek but not outrageously so.
I like good scope.

I calculated 5' (what you said) + 3' (I guessed a small boat in only 5', but I anchor that shallow and my freeboard is 4') = 8'. 40' on the bottom means probably at least 70' out, since some is vertical and the wind will lift some from time to time, cleaning it. Thus, 70/8 = 9.

The bit that is only on the bottom part of the time never seems dirty.

But I was just guessin'.

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I've sailed the Bay for 30 years, and a hose has just never seemed worth the time it would take to turn it on. Must be somethin' about how or where I anchor.
 
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