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Last Updated on May 14, 2021 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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We have an 85lb Mantus anchor. She holds well and is the biggest we could fit on our boat.
Read our Mantus Anchor Review.
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.