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Last Updated on September 2, 2020 by Amy

The anchor set up is one of the most critical points on the boat. The system has to hold a lot of weight when winds pick up, and Starry Horizons is no light-weight speedster. Here’s what we’ve done to make our anchoring system as good as possible.

Anchor Bridle

Our bridle set up is 1″ thick, three-strand nylon. It is attached to the bow pad-eyes by bowline knots. In the center, a chain hook is attached using the Alpine Butterfly Loop.

Snubbers

We didn’t add snubbers onto our mooring bridle until a few years ago, but they are well worth it. Starry Horizons, in gusty winds, tended to jerk around on the bridle.

Snubbers help absorb some of the motion of the boat and stretch in the lines to make being at anchor more comfortable.

anchor bridle snubber
New anchor bridle snubbers.

Chain Hook

We have an older Mantus Chain Hook. This is what connects the bridle to the chain.

There is a new design for the 3/8″ Stainless Steel Mantus Chain Hook.

Anchor Chain

g4 anchor chain

How Much Chain Do You Need?

The length of your anchor chain is a factor of the depth of the water. The typical anchor-chain-length to water-depth ratio is 5:1. So for every five feet of water depth, you need 25 feet of chain.

A world circumnavigation requires anchoring in some pretty deep places. We have found that most cruising boats have 100 meters of chain.

Types of Chain

Our boat came with 33 meters of 1/2″ BBB chain. This has a working load limit of about 4,500 lbs. The BBB means that the chain is made of low-carbon steel. The chain weighed about 270 lbs.

Our first mistake was ordering 300′ of 1/2″ BBB chain in France.  We knew we needed more chain, but we didn’t realize the consequences of just adding a longer chain – we added 540 more pounds of weight into the bow of the boat, for a total of 810 lbs of anchor chain!

So on the advice of our boat guru Pat, we planned on swap out to 5/16″ Acco G4 chain.  Also known as Grade 43 chain, this chain is made from a high carbon-manganese alloy instead of the low-carbon steel of the BBB chain. 100 meters of 5/16″ G4 chain would weigh around 300 lbs, but would have a load limit of 3,900 lbs.

At this point, we need a bit of a boat terminology lesson to make sure everyone is on the same page.  A windlass is the term for the whole unit that raises our anchor chain.  Ours is manufactured by Quick and we have their Dylan model.  The gypsy is the part of the windlass that rotates while grabbing the chain to pull it in or out.  Everybody good?  Great.

Dylan Windlass
Dylan Windlass
Quick Gypsy
Quick Gypsy

So in order to swap out from 1/2″ chain to 5/16″ chain, we needed to swap out the gypsy that came with the boat, for one that could handle 5/16″ chain.  While we were in Miami, our dealer gave us a Quick gypsy that was rated for 5/16″ chain and told us that was what we needed.  Believing that we had what we needed to make the swap, Amy worked very hard to sell and get rid of our 1/2″ chain and I ordered brand spankin new 5/16″ chain.

We got the new chain on the boat and I set out to swap out the gypsy and what do I find?  The new gypsy doesn’t actually fit into the windlass (aren’t you glad for your terminology lesson right now?)!  Not a good sign, but I was hoping perhaps we had just been given the gypsy for the wrong model of Quick windlass.  So to the internets we go and I quickly discovered that Quick does not actually make a gypsy for their Dylan model windlass that will handle 5/16″ chain.

I’ll admit to a few curse words and unmentionable rants at this point but given how many issues we’d already had with the anchor chain, I was rather frustrated.  Amy and I quickly made the decision that we did not want to replace our entire windlass, but instead, we swapped out our chain, yet again, for 3/8″ Acco G4 chain, which will fit in a gypsy that Quick does make for our windlass.

Our 100 meters of 3/8″ Acco G4 chain weighs 435 lbs (nearly half of the 1/2″ BBB chain) and has a hold strength of 5,400 lbs (14% stronger than the 1/2″ BBB chain).

Fortunately, another boat that Pat is helping to outfit needs 5/16″ chain so we’ll be able to sell our chain to them rather than having to struggle through Craigslist again.  

Learn how to change an anchor windlass.

Anchor Windlass

We have a Quick Dylan DH 1512 windlass on Starry Horizons, perfectly big enough to handle the chain and anchor. On a 44′ catamaran like the Helia, going without an anchor windlass is just impossible. We need to be able to get the anchor up quickly in an emergency and let’s face it, hauling an anchor up by hand is no fun.

Chain Counter

With our anchor windlass, we have a Quick anchor chain counter. This is a simple convenience for us to be able to know how much anchor chain we have out. Proper anchoring requires 5:1 scope, or in a storm, up to 10:1. That means if we anchor in 10 feet, we put out 50 feet of chain.

Learn how to repair and troubleshoot a quick chain counter sensor.

Mantus Anchor

We have an 85lb Mantus anchor. She holds well and is the biggest we could fit on our boat.

Read our Mantus Anchor Review.

Anchor Swivel

The anchor is attached to an Ultramarine Anchor Swivel. This part makes sure that the anchor comes up the right side up every time we raise the anchor. Having to try to get the anchor flipped around can be a real pain. We didn’t start out with this item in the system but added it after almost six months.

20 Comments

  1. David & Amy,
    We have a Helia 44 and I’m trying to optimize our ground tackle. I like the Mantus M2 chain hook, but it just barely gets through anchor lock slot when raising the anchor. What kind of “older Mantus” chain hook do you have? Do you mind posting a pic?
    Also, does your bridle have a thimble?
    TD

  2. Hi David & Amy. We are in process of doing the same chain-swap as our original chain is now needing replacement. I was advised by the guys looking after the boat that the gypsy needs a 28mm pitch and that the Acco G4 HT is pith 31mm. Can’t seem to figure it out. Do you have a part number for the gypsy you used?

    Pete Williams
    s/v MapleCookie

    1. Hey Pete!

      Have to admit, I have no idea about the pitch requirements for the gypsy or the chain. We did talk to a Quick representative at the Miami boat show about our plans for a swap and they didn’t see any problem with it, and after using the new gypsy and chain for a year and a half, we haven’t had any issues…

      The only thing I’ll be slightly hesitant on is that we have a vertical Dylan windlass (http://www.quickusastore.com/windlasses-14/vertical-windlass/dylan-vertical-windlass/dylan-vertical-windlass-with-drum.html) and I know some earlier Helias came with a horizontal windlass. If you have a horizontal windlass, perhaps that’s where the concern about pitch comes in?

      I can’t find the specific part number for our gypsy, but here is the Dylan website for individual gypsies: http://www.quickusastore.com/windlasses-14/spare-parts/windlass-gypsies.html

      We have the Dylan 10mm-3/8″ gypsy. Hope that helps!

  3. David, I plan to do the same think with our chain, not only to get rid of some unecessary weight, but also to help with the chain piling problem. Keep us posted.

    1. I’ll definitely post a follow up at some point. I was really hoping the 5/16″ chain was going to work as I think that would have definitely helped alleviate the chain piling, but we’ll see how much better the 3/8″ works.

  4. Enjoyed your Post Gypsy’s! Sending you a BBBit of humor. France and Quick does not actually happen. However, “Quick pull up the anchor in Florida before Hurricane “Grace” arrives.” Actually is a good chain of events. May the Windlasst Gypsy’s!

    Now on a serious note, what is the Hurricane plan?

    1. The humor is definitely appreciated!

      Basically, our hurricane plan is to head north. Pretty far north actually. Once we get out of Florida, we’re going to head to the Bahamas for a few weeks until about July 15th (insurance designated start of hurricane season) and then we’re going to head up to Nova Scotia, Canada. Hurricanes will have to look pretty hard for us up there!

  5. Brilliant piece…and wonderful timing for us as we’re going through the same thing with our Helia!

    What’s the weight comparison between the 5/16″ and 3/8″ G40 chain? Are you still hoping to see the same non-pounding benefits?

    All the best,
    Ryan

    1. I meant to add that in the post and forgot so thanks for reminding me! I did a quick edit, but to answer your question, the 3/8″ G40 chain will weigh a bit over 450 lbs, which is about 150lbs more than the 5/16″. But the 3/8″ will still weigh about half of the original 1/2″ so it’s still a pretty good diet!

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