A Look at Anchor Rodes

Chain-to-chain connections and choosing proper line.

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I have a rope/chain rode on my Monk 36 trawler. I would like to add 50 feet of chain to the 100 feet that I already have. Is it acceptable to use a two-part connector link to do this—like the link with pins that are peened together?

Tim Nesterak
Monk 36

A link connector or swivel will be much weaker under tension than your lengths of chain, and intentionally adding a “weak link” to your chain is a bad idea. A D-shackle to D-shackle junction would be better, but you would have to manually move it around a windlass chain gypsy.

 

In our opinion, your best—and safest—option would be to replace the chain with a 150-foot length, then use the old chain for a second anchor or as backup.

Anchor Rodes

Besides chain, it seems all anchor line is nylon because of its stretch. However, after reading your assessment of dock lines and mooring rodes, polyester would be preferable for its superior abrasion resistance. I do notice, though, that some of the nylon line recommended for anchor rode has similar elongation to polyester line (10 to 20 percent of average strength).

I have a 15,000-pound 35 Niagara with a 35-pound CQR primary anchor and 30 feet of 5/16-inch chain. I don’t have a windlass.

I am considering using Novabraid’s Novablue line (4.5 percent elongation at 10 percent strength), which has more elongation than Sampson’s Super Strong (3 percent) or Deep 6 (2.8 percent). The other line I was considering is Yale Polydyne, which I thought offered the best of both worlds: nylon core for stretch and polyester sheathing for abrasion resistance. But I am concerned about how well the different lines would work together over time, and the elongation is only 4 percent.

Most of my anchoring here on the Chesapeake is with less than 100 feet of line, so I am considering 200 feet of 5/8-inch line—larger than I need, but I am figuring the line will lose some of its original strength over time and when it is wet.

I am using three-strand now, but I want something that will get through the deck pipe and fit into the rode locker more easily. Price is important, but I am not sure that the difference in the price of the different lines will deter me from buying the one that will best maintain its strength, abrade the least, and do the best job of keeping the anchor set.

Robert Max
Niagara 35

We generally recommend high-grade, three-strand nylon for anchor rodes because of its cost effectiveness and elasticity—essential under surging loads. Certainly there are more chafe-resistant lines, but using chafe gear is a more sensible way to prevent rode chafe.

 

According to Stephen Parola at New England Ropes, you can achieve similar elasticity in polyester rode by adjusting the amount of twist, but this can also affect the handling of the rope. A stretchy braided-polyester rope can be fairly stiff and just as hard to stow. Hockling is also an issue in braided ropes. Regardless, we strongly recommend nylon over polyester. As an alternative to three-strand, you have two options in our opinion, both nylon: a braided line (single or double braided), or a multi-strand nylon line (typically eight or more strands). Any of these rope types are more expensive, and their strands are more vulnerable to getting snagged and pulling loose.

 

Neal Prescott at Novabraid recommended the company’s 12-strand product, Nytec-12, over the braided Novabraid Blue. He said that if you opted for Novabraid (or a similar double-braid product) and plan to be anchored for long periods, you should go up one size to better combat chafe, or use chafe gear.

 

A 5/8-inch rope rode with a short (at least 6 feet) chain leader is fine for the shallow Chesapeake where you sail, but it is not what we’d recommend for venturing outside the bay or northward toward Maine. For serious long-term cruising, chain rode is still king—and it rattles down a hawse pipe quite readily.

Darrell Nicholson, editor of Practical Sailor, grew up boating on Miami’s Biscayne Bay on everything from prams to Morgan ketches. Two years out of Emory University, after a brief stint as a sportswriter, he set out from Miami aboard a 60-year-old wooden William Atkin ketch named Tosca. For 10 years, he and writer-photographer Theresa Gibbons explored the Caribbean, crossed the Pacific, and cruised Southeast Asia aboard Tosca, working along the way as journalists and documenting their adventures for various travel and sailing publications, including Cruising World, Sail, Sailing, Cruising Helmsman, and Sailing World. Upon his return to land life, Darrell became the associate editor, then senior editor at Cruising World magazine, where he worked for five years. Before taking on the editor’s position at Practical Sailor, Darrell was the editor of Offshore magazine, a boating-lifestyle magazine serving the New England area. Darrell has won multiple awards from Boating Writer’s International, including the Monk Farnham award for editorial excellence. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license and has worked as a harbor pilot and skippered a variety of commercial charter boats.

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