When Hurricane Irma plowed through the Florida Keys, it left behind both a trail of destruction and a wealth of information for us to learn from. One of the most instructional episodes took place at the municipal mooring field at Boot Key in Islamorada.
One of the quickest ways to lose your floating investment is to chafe through a dock line or mooring pendant, sending your boat smashing into the neighboring slip or a rock jetty. It has been a while since we tested chafe gear (see PS October 2012), so when a new product came across our radar, we jumped on the chance to test it.
How thick is too thick for the buildup of old layers of bottom paint? This question arises because I have just finished painting the bottom of my boat. Even though I diligently sought out potential flaking spots with my knife, while rolling on the paint (Pettit Ultima Eco), I would frequently get a mess caused by the paint flaking off. I have only owned this boat for three years, so I really do not know how many layers there are.
Practical Sailor adds three anchors to our test lineup: the Quickline Ultra and two updated versions of the XYZ Extreme anchor, the original of which we reviewed in the April 2006 issue. The three anchors were attached to rode and tested in shallow, muddy water along the Florida coastline. The anchors were rated for how well they set and how well they fared under load. Sustained holding power was recorded for all three anchors. Price, weight, warranty, and stowability were also considered in the final ratings. The shiny stainless-steel anchors were easy on the eye, but weighing the pros and cons of stainless anchors versus galvanized anchors left testers more inclined to purchase a galvanized anchor. Galvanized steel is more likely to show corrosion and so has a good warning system for metal failure.
The mechanics at work at the other end of your mooring line matter as much as the mooring line and pendant. In 2009, Practical Sailor reported on two pull tests held 12 years apart (See Mooring Anchors for Sensitive Seabeds, Practical Sailor August 2009). We also reported on the results of a third test being carried out by contractors for the City of Sarasota, which at that time was about to become one of Floridas seven pilot mooring fields. Boot Key Mooring Field, which took a near direct hit from Hurricane Irma in 2017, was another harbor participant in the program (see adjacent article).
The usual advice for anyone seeking all-rope anchor rode is usually to just get some three-strand nylon anchor. The makes sense. Three-strand nylon is inexpensive, wears best, and is easy to splice. But one size, or even one type of rope, does not necessarily fit all situations.
Taking the advice of a PS review, I installed a Lewmar V2 windlass on my boat in 2008. I went with the installers recommendation of 100 feet of galvanized chain and 100 feet of eight-part braid, connected with a rope-to-chain splice, and I have a Delta 35 anchor. I found that a chain hockle (a twist in the chain that jams the windlass) will terribly mangle the vertical windlass. I have just completed my second mangling and ordered replacement parts-but these parts will not save me from the next mangling. The Lewmar distributor told me to install a chain swivel, but PS has warned about this (PS Advisor, May 2010). Is an all-chain rode a dumb idea? Is there some solution?