One of the first tasks we did as new owners of Choices was to haul out the chain and rope that comprised our two anchor rodes and mark them at measured distances with colored zip ties. That way I could tell how much anchor rode was played out when we anchored. In doing this, we noted several problems.
A pile of rusted old chain in the chain locker.
First, the main anchor (the Danforth) was attached to 135 feet of chain. The first 50 feet of chain was in good shape, but the remainder must have been original to the boat (circa 1992). It was a rusted, knotted mess. We had to take a hammer to it to pry the links apart. This is not what you like to see when you’re planning to spend many restful nights asleep while swinging on your anchor.
The second problem was that the chain was connected via a shackle directly to the U bolt in the chain locker. If we were ever in an emergency situation and needed to cut the anchor and make a fast retreat, we’d be sunk (maybe even literally). There was no way we could cut and run fast.
The secondary anchor was attached to a short segment of chain, then a hundred feet of three stand nylon rope. It was OK, but the anchor itself was a rather small Chinese knock-off of a Bruce anchor.
We knew we needed to make changes and upgrades. Our first problem arose in that we couldn’t find (on the chain, windlass, or in the manual) what size chain we had. We read that you needed to carefully match the chain size and type to what your windlass can accommodate. We hadn’t a clue, so we needed to take a segment of our chain to an expert for sizing. We couldn’t find a chain cutter that could make a dent in the chain, so Rich burned through 3 saws-all bladed, cutting through it.
Rusted shackles and a unreliable swivel need replacing.
We headed down to the chain locker which is in the bow of the boat, accessed from our forward V-berth stateroom. We needed to disassemble the entire assembly and replace the rusted old components. This proved to be a monumental challenge. First he tried to unbolt the U bolt, only to find that the lower screw was below the floor of the chain locker. It must have been installed before the chain locker was built. Rich has to saw a hole in the bottom of the chain locker to get the U bolt out. The chain locker is so deep and narrow that Rich had to choose to have his head inside to look, or one arm inside to work. Both together was not an option. Plus, three rusted shackles were in the way. With prodigious sweat, he managed to undo the U bolt and hoist the assembly out of the chain locker so we could take off the 3 rusted shackles.
So far, we were making slow progress with the tear down. We began to plan the replacements. We researched anchors and decided to get a 60 lb Manson Supreme anchor. Thankfully a man on the MTOA e-mail list warned us to check the shank dimensions to make sure the anchor would fit in our bow roller. We drove to Sarasota to West Marine (the closer Venice store doesn’t carry anchors large enough) and made tracings of the 45 lb and 60 lob Manson Supreme anchors. At home we transferred these tracings to cardboard and made templates. Sure enough, neither would fit through the bow roller because of their wide shanks.
Newly delivered 55 lb Rocna anchor still in it’s protective packaging.
Back to the drawing board – more research – and we decided on a 55 lb Rocna anchor. This time thankfully the manufacturer supplies pdf file tracings via the internet that we could print out. It was a fit, so we ordered the anchor (from California). FedEx delivered it today.
Earlier this week we drove to Largo FL (north of St. Petersburg) to a rigging vendor. They identified our chain for us and are splicing 100 ft of 5/16 inch G4 chain to 100 ft of 5/8″ 8-plait nylon line for our new anchor. They’re also making us a new bridle for us (which was a major research project in and of itself). When it’s ready we have to make another trip to largo to pick it up. I also ordered a special shackle from Crosby to tie the anchor to the chain.
We’ll keep this as a secondary bridle, but we’re having a new one built.
For the secondary anchor we’ll reuse the 3 strand nylon line but we attached it to the 50 ft of good chain from the original primary anchor. We’ll use the Danforth as our secondary anchor and retire the Bruce knock-off.
Now we have our fingers crossed that when all the components arrive, they will fit into the chain locker and on the bow pulpit.