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Discussion Starter #1
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.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
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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Learning the HARD way...
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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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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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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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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
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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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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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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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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Discussion Starter #11
Is the swivel needed at all? Is the issue related to twist caused by putting tension on three-strand rode?

Also, why did you use double-braid for rode? I always thought that three-strand had more stretch, thus providing shock absorption.
 

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Is the swivel needed at all?
It is my understanding that any swivel is THE weak link in the anchor tackle. I've taken mine out and have no intention of replacing it. By the way, other than 4 nights on the Grenada Yacht club dock a year ago, we've been anchored for more than 660 consecutive nights, so our anchor tackle is pretty important to us.
 

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Removed my swivel also

Having 90 feet of chain before the rope road gives me piece of mind when anchoring where there are rocks or even rebar/ trees sunken which could saw an all rope road . Besides the weight of chain helps to lower the cantenary angle and helps prevent anchor wrap in a current situation.

I'd replace the whole windlass ,. What brand type is it?
 

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Please dont use a trip line with a float unless anchoring in very foul bottom.
The float interferes with the swing room of other boats trying to anchor nearby.
A boat or dinghy passimg thru at night cant see it and can snag it, tripping your anchor.
You can drift over your anchor and snag the trip line in your prop or rudder.
The float interferes with the swing room of other boats trying to anchor nearby.

We cruise full time from Maine to the Bahamas and maybe, at most, 1% of boats use a trip line.

You could tie one end of a line to the anchor shank and tie the other end about 10' up the rode. When retrieving anchor, untie the end from the rode and wrap it around the drum to finish the retrieval. It will be quite muddy unless you anchor in sand. Do you have a washdown system?
 

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They make self adjusting anchor floats. Multiple advantages:
Marks where the anchor is. Big flag so helps prevents others from running over it. Also no slack to catch in props.
No way trip line can tangle in rode. No chafe.
Easy to use. Pull in rode until close. Pull up float with boat hook. Use that to get last bit up.
Also great if anchor gets fouled.
Made to survive for multiple seasons as designed for your use.
Short additional money especially c/w what you would pay buying components
Can retrieve anchor if you need to cut and run.

Still agree with others. I've been known to move if boat in front is rope and it's going to be a windy night. Same if I don't see snubbers on chain. People forget it's windage not displacement that is the concern for rode stresses except for the effects of the up and down from chop. Good rope rode needs to be strong. Loading and unloading, abrasions from small particles of dirt and shells wears it out. Always wonder about the strength of a rope rode on an old boat and if it was ever changed out. Seen them break. Not pretty. Usually no way to re anchor on the boat. Leave your keys in the engine at all times. Even when you are not on the boat please. Then there's a chance someone can save your boat if you are not around.
 

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Please dont use a trip line with a float unless anchoring in very foul bottom.
The float interferes with the swing room of other boats trying to anchor nearby.
A boat or dinghy passimg thru at night cant see it and can snag it, tripping your anchor.
You can drift over your anchor and snag the trip line in your prop or rudder.
The float interferes with the swing room of other boats trying to anchor nearby.

We cruise full time from Maine to the Bahamas and maybe, at most, 1% of boats use a trip line.

You could tie one end of a line to the anchor shank and tie the other end about 10' up the rode. When retrieving anchor, untie the end from the rode and wrap it around the drum to finish the retrieval. It will be quite muddy unless you anchor in sand. Do you have a washdown system?
Nope...

If the trip line is attached to the chain/nylon as I did in my illustration, then the trip line, and the float, remain below the surface until you raise the anchor. The key is to use a trip line that is only about 3' longer than the chain. I did this for over 5 years, and 100s of days at anchor without a problem.

The only time that I ever remember being concerned while anchoring with this setup was one day inside of the Point Judith breakwater, when some newb, after dragging his anchor three times, motored past me about 10 feet off my bow. He caught, and almost cut, my anchor line on his keel! I had about 6:1 scope out in about 12 feet of water. I saw my anchor line bounce as his keel motored over it... Thank God he didn't catch my rode with his prop... If he did, however, I could have easily found the anchor, as the trip line and float would have been easy for me to snag with the grappling anchor that I keep onboard for my dinghy.

This had nothing to do with the trip line, but had everything to do with his lack of seamanship. If you have to pass close to boats at anchor, you should pass close by their stern, NOT their bow.
 

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Trip line with float is just asking for trouble in the real world--don't do it! The answer is simple if you don't have a long length of chain there is no reason not to go with just six feet of chain. When you get as close to the anchor as you can, cleat off the line and motor forward a little bit to break the anchor free. Then pull it in. Despite all the yattering classes here on the Internet there is no need or reason for all chain or even long lengths of chain if anchoring in mud and sand bottoms where there is no coral. I have anchored this way perfectly peacefully up and down most of the East Coast when using my secondary anchor, which is a Fortress on a short length of chain (probably 10 feet) and the rest nylon. There is no gain with having say 15 feet or 30 feet of chain over just 6 feet if the bottom is not likely to chafe the rode. Get to the Caribbean or someplace with coral and things change a lot and long lengths of chain are mandatory unless you are very careful with how you anchor.
 

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By the way, for those that don't know I am pretty sure the OP is anchoring in the Chesapeake which has deep, deep mud in most places. Anchor chain will come aboard with huge gobs of the stinky stuff. Anchoring on mostly rope rode is perfectly safe and probably superior to all chain there, so shorten up on the chain leader, use the engine to break the anchor free. Works perfectly. I have done it hundreds of times on boats in the Chesapeake. Chances are you will be anchored in less than 10 feet of water most of the time so any type of float used would be very vulnerable to being fouled by someone, if you don't foul your own float when the wind goes against the current in some locations. If there is a float on something someone will foul it--guaranteed! I once helped someone unwind a Cuttyhunk mooring ball he had managed to back over and wind up, then the ball jammed in the rudder opening for the propellor!
 

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Keep it simple. When (not if) you have to quickly haul anchor at 0300 in a gale you don't want to be messing with extra lines/floats etc that WILL tangle on something. If you don't want to scratch your pretty windlass by wrapping the chain (more the better) around it then just pull that section by hand. On a 34' boat you won't have more than a 30 lb anchor so it shouldn't be a problem (keep a pair of rubberized gloves that fit well handy).

ps three strand nylon is excellent for anchor rode
 
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