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Dear folks,

In floating around various anchorages up and down the US East Coast and the Bahamas I have noticed that people using all-chain or even mostly-chain rodes usually use a large diameter rope on their snubber. For boats in the 35' to 40' range that diameter is usually 5/8" and often as large as 3/4" and often up to 1".

I thought the idea of the snubber was to provide a "shock absorbing" link between the boat and the anchor. If that is the purpose then would not a smaller diameter and therefore "stretchier" line be better? Also, most snubbers appear to be about 10' in length. If nylon stretches X" per foot, would not a longer line provide more stretch?

For the past three years I have used a 30 foot long, 3/8" diameter 3-strand nylon line as my snubber for our Crealock 37'. I rarely use more than about 15' of its length but have, when it was blowing 30 Knots or so, used the entire length. In winds to 40knots that 3/8" nylon sure looks skinny but it has not broken nor shown any signs of fatigue. But boy does it stretch nicely to avoid shock loading the anchor.

My question for the group: Am I utterly nuts on this one?

Thanks and Happy Thanksgiving, Jay

PSC 37, Kenlanu
Buck's Harbor, Maine
 

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I agree that a lot of people use snubbers that are too large. Our boat is about 40,000 lbs loaded and we use a bridle made of 5/8". Has held up well, we used the same rope for 33,000+ miles. It is looking a bit tired now but still useful.
 
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A lot use very thick snubbers. Crazy.

My length is shorter, it never touches the water. I am at anchor most of the year so its important not to have sharp barnacles grow inside the lay of the rope and cut it in wind.

As you might be perceiving, a lot of people do things for no good reason!

Mark
PS you are probably nuts anyway ;)
 

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This fall in Port Washington, our dinghy painter picked up a huge amount of growth, much more than the anchorages we usually visit. That place really grows things fast.

So I tied a light bungie line to the middle of my dinghy painter and then to the end that gets looped over a stern cleat. It keeps the painter out of the water when the wind isn't blowing. (The painter already stays out of the water when the wind is blowing, due to tension.) The bungie-on-painter is definitely a part of our normal setup now.

Not so much for snubbers, but something similar could be done for mooring pennants. We had one side of our pennant wrap around the buoy and get eaten-up by rubbing against the chain this windy fall. They get wrapped when the wind is light and the buoy is right below the bow of the boat. A bungie would has prevented this and helped to keep the pennant free of barnacles and other growth.

Regards,
Brad
 

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We have a rubber mooring compensator in our single line snubber and a pair in our bridle. They add stretch without length keeping the hook off the bottom in calm periods and thus keeping it attached to the chain. The photo is in Marsh Harbour. The line is nylon of dubious origin, maybe 3/8' or maybe 1/2".



Bill Murdoch
1988 PSC 34
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Jay being nuts? Probably so, as he owns a boat.
In regards to snubbers, indeed most people use ropes far too strong, hence with too little stretch; 3/8 (or 10 mm) is often enough, and only of wind pipes up to 40 to 50 knots one could consider going up a size or two.

Secondly, indeed most snubbers are too short; the longer it is the better it will work. Hmmm, does that mean 100 ft of chain with 100 ft of nylon snubber/rode? I think it would work well, assuming that those lengths are correct for the size of boat and depth of water.

The option OceanGirl gives via the the pdf file/link has certainly benefits, ie no stretchy nylon over the bowrollers, creating heat/chafe. The only thing is that adding dyneema to the top and bottom of the snubber creates more links, more opportunities to fail. It certainly does not adhere to the KISS principle.
 

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My snubber is a fairly large length of old mooring line (also served as splicing practice), not especially stretchy but it's main purpose is to take the load off the windlass, and secondly to avoid the noise we'd have in light air as the chain between the bow roller and windlass lifted and fell back down on the deck. I hook the snubber then run the windlass "down" a bit to slack the chain. It's also just short enough to keep the hook out of water, also limiting the stretch. One day I'll get around to replacing it with 3-strand.


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My snubber is about 20 feet long; when deployed, the point attaching to the chain is under water about ten feet in light winds/currents (I cannot see it, but the water here is very polluted). The main reason for the "snubber" (for me) is to take all the load off the windlass and put it on the main deck cleats, not to snub the anchor chain (absorb tension in the rode). I let out more chain (have more scope) for that purpose.
 

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I believe the length and thickness of a needed snubber changes with the conditions.
But only in tight quarters, right? Reason I ask is that we prep for the strong winds. Then if it's light winds, we don't change anything. We just stay prepared for strong winds.

Regards,
Brad
 
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But only in tight quarters, right? Reason I ask is that we prep for the strong winds. Then if it's light winds, we don't change anything. We just stay prepared for strong winds.

Regards,
Brad
I agree with your philosophy here Brad. My biggest anchor is my primary anchor, and I like to lay out lots of scope. I only change to shorter scope when quarters are tight (which is actually quite often).

I do have a second anchor that I would lay out if I knew a big storm was coming, but usually if I know a big blow is coming I'm more worried about securing a safe harbor and anchoring somewhere protected, with good holding and low fetch than I am with laying out more ground tackle. I also likely wouldn't be in tight quarters (short scope) if I expected said blow.

I think this philosophy is part of why I've been comfortable with my snubber which does not have an adjustable length. Rarely am I in a situation where I feel I need to change my scope after it's already been laid out.

MedSailor
 

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My snubber is about 20 feet long; when deployed, the point attaching to the chain is under water about ten feet in light winds/currents (I cannot see it, but the water here is very polluted). The main reason for the "snubber" (for me) is to take all the load off the windlass and put it on the main deck cleats, not to snub the anchor chain (absorb tension in the rode). I let out more chain (have more scope) for that purpose.
I believe something to be careful about is when there is enough fetch such that strong winds means waves in the anchorage.

Then when the wind is strong enough you have both waves and a tight chain. So there will be jerking without any catenary to protect your windlass or cleats. IMHO, that is what a snubber is for, when the conditions are bad, expecially when there is fetch.

Regards,
Brad
 

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I know someone who snapped a snubber line while setting his anchor.

Now he makes extra sure that he backs down slowly to pick up tension before increasing the RPMs (in reverse). And he uses a snubber line that is in better condition.

Regards,
Brad
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thanks everyone for contributing to a very thoughtful discussion of snubbers. Further reading and especially Morgan's Cloud Attainable Adventure Crusing site confirms what many here are saying -- that you should have a LONG length of 3 strand (at least equal to the length of your boat) for your snubber, using 10 feet or so in normal circumstances and all of it when the winds are howling. The Chain manufacturers REALLY stress the importance of not shock loading chain -- never mind attachments points on BOTH ends -- boat and anchor. All the "safe working load" figures for chain are for gradually imposed loads on the chain, not shock loads which can be a LOT higher.

And as many here have said, conventional wisdom often contains lots of convention and little wisdom. Thank you everyone for helping me sort through which is which.

Jay
SV Kenlanu
Buck's Harbor, Maine
 
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