Q&A: Hybrid Rope And Chain Anchor Rodes

windlass Question: [edited for brevity] We have a horizontal windlass with a chain wildcat on one side and a rope drum on the other. How can we handle our hybrid secondary anchor rode made up of 50 meters of chain and 40 meters of rope with this set up?

  1. Introduction
  2. 4 Vital Anchor Selection Criteria and a Review of SPADE
  3. SARCA Excel Anchor—A Real World Test
  4. SPADE, SARCA Excel, or Some Other Anchor?
  5. Rocna Resetting Failures and evaluation of Vulcan and Mantus
  6. Some Thoughts On The Ultra Anchor, Roll Bars and Swivels
  7. Specifying Primary Anchor Size
  8. Kedge (Secondary Anchor)—Recommended Type and Size
  9. Third Anchors, Storm Anchors and Spare Anchors
  10. Anchor Tests—The Good, The Bad, and The Downright Silly
  11. Making Anchor Tests More Meaningful
  12. We Love The Way Our Anchor Drags 
  13. Things to Know About Anchor Chain
  14. Selecting a Chain Grade
  15. Anchor Chain Catenary, When it Matters and When it Doesn’t
  16. Anchoring—Snubbers
  17. Anchor Rode Questions and Answers
  18. Q&A: Hybrid Rope And Chain Anchor Rodes
  19. Anchor Swivels, Just Say No
  20. A Windlass That Makes The Grade
  21. The Perfect Anchor Roller
  22. Install A Wash-down Pump—And Save Money!
  23. Anchoring—Kellets
  24. Anchoring—Chain: Stoppers, Termination and Marking
  25. 20 Tips To Get Anchored and Stay Anchored
  26. Choosing an Anchorage
  27. Choosing a Spot
  28. 15 Steps To Getting Securely Anchored
  29. One Anchor or Two?
  30. Two Anchors Done Right
  31. It’s Often Better to Anchor Than Pick Up a Mooring
  32. Yawing at Anchor, The Theory and The Solution
  33. Yawing at The Anchor, an Alternative Cure
  34. How To Use An Anchor Trip Line
  35. ShoreFasts—Part 1, When to Use Them
  36. ShoreFasts—Part 2, Example Setups Plus Tips and Tricks
  37. ShoreFasts—Part 3, The Gear
  38. Gale And Storm Preparation, At Anchor Or On A Mooring
  39. Storm Preparation, All Chain On Deck
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Matt Marsh

Do I have a better answer? No. I really have no idea how one would safely transfer a rode across the windlass with 50 metres of heavy chain still hanging off the bow.

But this is an anchor post, and boaters can’t resist chiming in on an anchor post 😀

As John rightly points out, any supposed caternary benefits that you might get with heavy chain are nullified when the wind picks up and the rode is taut. IMHO, one is often better off using a light, strong rode and putting the weight in the anchor itself: 100 kg of anchor plus 50 kg of rope or wire cable rode ought to hold better than 50 kg of anchor plus 100 kg of heavy chain. Chain is, of course, still needed for chafe resistance in the first few feet of rode… but the best solution I can think of, from an ease of handling standpoint, is to just not mix materials within any one anchor rode.

Nick Kats

Hi John

My anchor rode setup is like yours. One is all chain. The backup is rope with a little chain.

Most anchor rodes need a lot of space to coil down/stow away. I didn’t have room for this & have only one thru-deck pipe which is dedicated to the chain.

I needed a 2nd anchor rode that was instantly deployable. Here is how I solved the problem.

To minimize stowage I use Octoplait (UK name) or Multiplait (US name… I think..). The stowage space required is 1/3 that of equivalent 3 ply nylon. My Octoplait rode is 400′ and 7/8″ diameter. The bag I store it in, at 5′ long and 10 inches diameter, easily accomodates this. Huge savings in space.

Like you I store this rode in a bag. My bag’s narrow diameter of 10 inches makes tangling within the bag unlikely, and it has not happened to me. The bag is open mesh for drainage. Its mouth has a stainless steel wire hoop sewn in to hold it open, which facilitates bagging the rode by myself.

This design comes straight from Beth & Evans Starzinger’s website, with photos.

In addition, the bag has a hole in the bottom. I keep 2 feet of the tail end of the rode hanging out of this hole, and can pull out all I want. This allows me to set up the rode properly before deployment. It also allows me to cleat off the rode before deploying, to prevent loss.

I keep the bag below & bring/stow it on the foredeck as needed.

This is an efficient way to instantly deploy rode.

Nick Kats

David Nutt

I am an advocate of the big anchor. On Danza, a 60′ ketch at around 22 tons we switched from a 50kg Bruce (which worked really well in our 5 year circumnavigation) to a 55kg Rocna when we headed to Greenland this past summer. We carry 90 meters of 12mm G4 chain. In the last 47,000 miles of sailing and innumerable anchorings I have yet to use two anchors. The Rocna was outstanding in the heavy kelp anchorages in Greenland. The only time it dragged was during a 180 degree wind shift on a classic steep slope anchorage. When reset it held without fail.
Our second anchor is all 7/8″ rode stored in a coil and now I am going to follow the advice of some of the above comments. Thanks.

David Head

Our heavy Saga 40 has a combo of chain and rope. The mention of a ‘v’ grooved chain gypsy does scare me. On another boat I was all too aware of the incredible crush pressure on the fibres of the Octoplait when the rode was under even moderate load. We never did have any problem with the splice. Our answer is a simple chain hook on a tail of suitable strength / length Octoplait rope. We recover enough rope on the plain drum windlass to get the chain over the deck then slot the chain hook over the chain. The tail is lead back over the chain gypsy to either a winch or purchase allowing a good direct pull. Pressure released gradually on the rope drum will leave the pressure on the chain and flying chain hook. Hauling this in drags the chain over the gypsy until fully engaged in the slots whereupon the windlas can again be used to recover the remaining rode. Sounds more complicated here than in practice. We also use the flying chain hook and tail threaded through a rubber chain snubber to reduce noise, and act as a shock absorber. ‘Simples’ as the Meercat says!

Victor Raymond

I also have a horizontal windlass. They way I handle this situation is fairly straightforward but requires a short snubber. After the rope rode is retrieved and the chain now is at the windlass, then I put a snubber on the chain so it won’t slip back into the sea. Then I remove the rope from the rope drum and put the chain in the wildcat drum. The main goal is to get enough chain onboard to reach the wildcat. If I do everything correctly I usually have one or two links to slip into the wildcat. If somehow I am short I can run the rope back to a winch to give me the few inches I need to get a few links in the wildcat.

Donal Philby

Brent Swain, designer of numerous steel “origami” boats recommends using a reel on deck that can be filled with hybrid rope/chain/wire that can be retrieved by hand crank, servo motor or hydraulics. Keeps the slime, mud and critters on deck, and eliminates all the issues mentioned above.

Here is a photo from a site with many more photos:

The windlass design is in his boatbuilding manual, only one of many cheap, strong, sensible ideas therein. I don’t have such a windlass, but am seriously considering one for our wooden boat, especially if we switch out of all chain for the primary.

Neil McCubbin

Two issues
On the value of chain as a catenary, I have seen good mathematics, (van Doorn in Oceanography and Seamanship) and have first hand experience to prove that the catenary value of chain is approximately zero at over about 50 knots wind.

Despite the poor catenary value in extreme conditions, we like a good chunk of chain to guard against chafe on the sea floor.

We have 40 metres chain with 180 m 3/4″ nylon spliced to it.

We winch in the nylon with Andersen 52 halyard winch, and the chain with our manual SL 555 windlass.

When the chain comes aboard, we snub with a stainless steel chain hook, and have about 4 feet of loose chain to safely pass over the windlass.

Even with an electric windlass, much of the rope part can be done easily with a halyard winch, making transfer of chain to the gypsy easy and safe.

Craig Smith

On catenary. It seems the enlightened readers of your blog are a select audience John, well done. In any case if anyone is interested this article attempts to separate some of the myth from the reason:

Nick Kats

Just want to say that this link Craig offers goes to a collection of articles on the Rocna anchor website. These articles are by far the best I have seen on all aspects of anchoring. I cannot recommend these highly enough.

Gary Schwarzman

We use a single windlass to handle either of two anchors, each of which is on a rope-chain rode. The windlass is an Ideal #3 vertical capstan, which has a rope drum. The rope and chain are joined by a back splice; the splice passes smoothly.

The “ah-ha” moment was when I discovered that two wraps on the drum will serve both the rope and the chain quite well. You just keep tailing, and the windlass keeps delivering rode. I had expected to have to weld lugs onto the drum to provide a better grip for the chain, but this was not necessary.

There are some caveats:

1. The size of the chain is critical. It needs to be small enough to be flexible, but large enough to strip off without binding. 3/8-inch proof coil works well with this drum, but 3/8-inch BBB tends to bind.

2. Wrapping chain around a rope drum certainly is not approved and might be considered unsafe. Handling that chain requires care and attention to ensure that the chain is stripping, falls clear, etc. But there are many operations on a boat that require care and attention to be performed safely.

Having worked the kinks out of the system and “learned the moves”, I find it a totally successful way to take in two rope-chain rodes.

peter loveridge

As you know, we have a small (30ft) boat. We have 100 feet of 1/4HT chain on a nominally 35lb stainless copy of a CQR, it actually weighs nearly 45. Our windlass is the smallest Simpson Lawrence, has a combined rope chain gypsy. It has never jammed, it occasionally jumps a little at the splice. We were unfortunate enough to experience a microburst in Florida, we survived 10 minutes of 100 knot winds without dragging or anything breaking.

Neil McCubbin

We have been using mixed chain/nylon rodes for years.
We have a few lengths of 5/8″ nylon with a chain hook spliced into one end. Good steel ones are available in truck supply shops, but now SS ones are not too expensive, so we use them.
We have a manual SL 555 windlass.
Nowadays, we pull in the 3/4″ rode with a halyard windlass on the mast, because it is easier than the anchor windlass. When the end of the chain is near the splice, we hook on to the chain forward, and tie it off, put the slack chain on the gyspy and crank it in, taking the hook off once tension is off it.
This would work just as well with an electric windlass, using the halyard winch only for the few feet to get slack in the chain.
It is good to have at least one chain hook to match your chain with about 30 ft of line on it, and one with about 10 ft. This allows using a halyard winch if the anchor windlass fails. Particularly important with electric models.


Has anyone tried using firehose or serving over chain? I am wondering if that would let it pass over a rope drum more smoothly. We have an odd setup where our secondary has 30′ of chain, then 150′ of rode, then 15′ of 7/16″ HT chain, then another 150′ of rode and a final 30′ of chain. (The issue is that the rode runs down an internal chute and without the chain it’d chafe in a heartbeat). The line retrieval is no problem, but the chain doesn’t want to roll over the drum very nicely – tends to grab and boink and growl.


Bump on an old thread. I’m of the anchor line and short length of chain in a bag school for the secondary anchor. In general, I pull up the second anchor first and having it mostly line means I can use a cockpit winch instead of the windlass if it is more convenient, but in general I simply pull the boat up to the anchor or motor over it if it is too windy. With a short length of chain that doesn’t reach the deck it is easy to cleat the line off short and let the boat drift back on the short-scoped anchor to help pull it out.


Much easier to deploy the second anchor from a dinghy if it only has a short length of chain, just watch the chafe if you have it down for a few days, Ideally serve the rope around the thimble. I have got away with a couple of meters of chain.

But I now have a decent primary on all chain, and love it, I hardly use the second anchor any more…

I use a chain pawl on my bow roller to help get the chain onboard, this works brilliantly on smaller vessels, considerably increasing safety and taking the load off my back.


So what’s best? “All chain” or “all rope (except at the end which, on the A40 with it’s midships windlass, could be 20′ of chain)”

Stein Varjord

Old thread, but I’m a new member, so I search the nooks and crannies for info. 🙂

My boat is a 49 foot, 30 metric tonne 1928 wooden rescue boat with an all chain rode and a 70 kg classic fisherman type anchor, and my winch is an Anchorlift Aquarius, which is a very rugged and powerful vertical winch with the wildcat immediately below the rope capstan. Just out of interest, I’ve tested a chain rope combo.

The transfer from rope to chain goes very easy even at a decent load and without stopping the pull. I just step on the rode, a bit away from the winch, and it jumps down on the wildcat, never losing grip. Then I pull the rope turns straight up off the capstan, so the chain falls off nicely. This part is actually very easy.

As mentioned this was just tests, so I haven’t figured out how I’d do the storage of the two. Ideally I’d also prefer the whole rode to go straight into the bin below deck, without having to do much organising, but see some complications. Braided nylon ropes flake very nicely by just letting them down in any container. No control needed, but I think rope and chain need to be separated, unless the chain is very short.

The reason for my curiosity is that my present boat is not my type of boat at all. She’s a beauty, but my roots are firmly in racing, and on top of that even from the most extreme multihull classes. I have also designed and built some racing multis. In a slow boat, I suffer and in a very heavy monohull… say no more. 🙂 So I’ll move back to multihulls not so far into the future. Then I want it to work much better than any cruising multihull I have seen. So, I explore possibilities and test things.

I used to be a firm believer in the catenary effect. That the weight of the chain would give a much better angle of pull on the anchor. I was happy to discover that this is poor thinking. In normal weather, yes it works, but what we care about is what works when we approach trouble, in heavy weather. Then it doesn’t apply. The reason I was happy to discover this, is of course that I love speed and hate weight on a boat.

Thus my ideal anchor setup (for a very fast cruising catamaran) now is this: Anchor, rode and winch will be stored and set from just ahead of the mast. When anchored, the load will go to each bow via two ropes prepared to attach to the rode. The “best bower” will be a galvanized steel Spade, much larger than one would normally use. Kedge will be a large Fortress. Backup will be a very large aluminium Spade. Rode will be about 15 metres of strong chain for abrasion resistance and to improve setting. The rest of the rode will be soft braided nylon, at least 150 metres. The winch will be a vertical capstan type.

The chain section is shorter than normally seen as appropriate. This saves weight that I will put in larger anchors. It makes the setup more vulnerable to chafing. On the boat, that’s easy to prevent by having the cleats well placed. Chafing on objects on the bottom can be minimized by having a svery small buoy attached to the rope about 5 metres from the end of the chain. That will keep the rope rode off the bottom, but also normally not at the surface. The whole rode will be stored in the same bin, just straight in.

This layout will develop as I learn more. Comments and suggestions are welcome!

Stein Varjord

A very short chain is extremely tempting, but I have a feeling that the weight is useful when setting. At leat that is my impression form a lot of anchoring through the years, but that’s not at all scientific proof of course, and I have not experimented with the Spade, which is the anchor type I think fits my bill the best.

As I have the imagined layout now, I plan to both set and retrieve the anchor from a spot just ahead of the mast, meaning that the “bow roller” will be there too. Then the distance to the winch would be small, but I might actually move the winch and chain/rope bin even further back, which could be good. I’ll look at that possibility. There are several reasons for my choice of keeping it off the bows.
– Moving the weight to a better spot.
– Moving the work spot to an area where it’s easier to work.
– Quicker to reach from the helm, for solo handling.
– Space for all anchors to be stored in a ready to deploy fashion.
– Ability to use the same anchor gear and setting spot for both the bow and the stern, as I will have snubbers ready from both the bows and the sterns (the latter passing under the bridge deck). In Scandinavia, anchoring with shore lines and the bows close enough to jump ashore is normal. Putting the bows on a beach, as normal in the Netherlands where I live now, I also like having a good anchor ready to pull me out fast.

Manuel Jose Berrocal

It is me, bothering again. My doubts are: I do not like to use the rope spliced or weaved into the chain, the way that most windlasses require. I have always use a shackle to connect the chain with the anchor and then another shackle to connect the chain to the rope. And the knot that I have always use is the SCAFFOLD KNOT (recently found out the name, I always thought it was called the hangman’s knot) I originally believed that it was called HANGMAN’S KNOT, but the hangman’s knot is totally different. Here is the scaffold knot I always use to tie the rope of an anchor to a shackle, but I use a minimum of six to seven turns: http://www.netknots.com/rope_knots/scaffold-knot
QUESTION 1: Is it the correct or appropriate knot to use to tie the anchor rope to a shackle? Will it hold?
QUESTION 2: What brand and type of windlass do you recommend to use chain tied to a rope with a shackle and a big knot like this?
QUESTION 3: Are there any other secure knots that you may recommend to tie an anchor rope to a shackle, which is attached to a chain?
My best, thank you.

Eric Klem

Hi Manuel,

In general, I am more positive about mixed anchor rodes than many people are. That said, we have all chain as it is undoubtedly less prone to chafe although we effectively make it mixed by using a line snubber. Whether a mixed rode is appropriate really depends on what your requirements are in terms of weight, usage area and reliability. I have spent a significant amount of time anchored on mixed rodes including in reasonably severe weather such as tropical storms and never had any issues but we were always cautious about chafe.

The biggest issue when you have line involved is chafe. Chafe on underwater objects is very scary largely because you can’t detect it as it is happening. My recommendation for this is to choose a line that is very chafe resistant (double braid construction and a good material) and then be careful about where you anchor. If you regularly anchor in places with coral or other sharp objects, line is simply a bad idea but if you are somewhere where these don’t occur, the risk is not too bad. At the deck end, you also have serious chafe concerns. If you look at boats breaking free from moorings in storms, it is usually due to pendants chafing through and these are quite large in diameter. I believe that a line anchor rode should be sized like a mooring pendant with something like an 8X safety factor making it quite large (we use 5X on our secondary rode but put a lot of effort into eliminating chafe). We have used 3 systems to deal with this chafe, all with good success. The first system which we used prior to high tech lines was to simply let out 6″ of rode every so often during a blow to move the chafe point (note that this has some serious safety considerations). The next system we went to was actually using a snubber on the anchor line so that the line was effectively the backup where it came aboard and the snubber chafed first. Finally, the solution that we ended up with was using a short piece of dyneema with a splice on the outboard end that would cow hitch either into the snubber or the anchor line itself. This is my favorite system and what we have rigged up on our secondary anchor rode as well as on our normal snubber for our chain. Putting some effort into eliminating chafe points from your foredeck is still required with all of these methods.

The other large issue to me is how to deal with a windlass. John’s solution of a very short chain leader works well for many and doesn’t result in a reduction in holding power, only a slight reduction in setting reliability at very short scope. In many cases like mine, this doesn’t work because the windlass is too close to the bow roller. For secondary rodes, it isn’t too big of a deal to swap from a line drum to chain by using a short snubber as we so rarely do it. For a primary rode, I would consider this unacceptable. Rope to chain slices do work reasonably well and probably represent the best option (although you will need to use 3 strand which I don’t love). As a rule, I used to cut my splice off every 2 years and redo it and never ever saw any chafe provided that the splice was very tight when I made it. The likely issue with going this route is that I am unaware of any gypsies for hybrid rodes that are compatible with the chain sizes you have mentioned elsewhere but someone may have one.


Manuel Jose Berrocal

Thank you John. Your reasons not to use hybrid rode are very logical. However, I must go with the hybrid rode. I have never had the need to use windlass in the relatively small boats that I have had (so loosing a finger has not been my concern), but now I must use a windlass. I need to know if the SCAFFOLD knot to tie the shackle to rope is good enough. You, sailors, are far more experienced than us sport fishermen. I will value your opinion. There are no sites like this one in the sport fishing world. And if there are, they do not address these issues, just trivial fishing experiences.

Dick Stevenson

Hi Manuel Jose,
I have never liked the looks of 3 strand nylon rope to chain splices nor of the multibraid splices for the same purpose, but I have never heard any problem with them coming loose. But, nor do I have any first-hand experience. When I had a hybrid rode (NE US where the mud is good and there is little to chafe) I attached the 3 strand nylon to a shackle with a splice, (no thimble but the line had protection of shrink wrap) and then to 60 feet of chain. When the chain to nylon connection came on board I lifted that short section over the gypsy which had rope grooves in it as well as slots for the chain (a very old style windlass Simpson Lawrence Sea Wolf or something like that) and so worked with both chain and rope. Lots of compromises there, but it worked for decades for when I was mostly coastal cruising.
A scaffold knot is a good knot but why not use 3 strand nylon and splice it yourself? Or get a rigger to do it. The tried and true/historical classic knot is an anchor bend with the end securely sewn to the standing part to ensure it stays tied.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

Dick Stevenson

Hi Eric,
That was a nice little essay in response to Manuel Jose’s questions.
A couple of thoughts:
Instead of 3 strand, some use nylon mutiplait. There are directions for splicing this to chain on the internet. I believe this to have the added benefit of the rope part laying down in a locker easily and not hockling. Is this why you “don’t love” 3 strand?
As for chafe at the bow, after hurricane Bob, I wandered among the boats blown ashore (a majority of Onset’s moored fleet by a good margin) and, at first blush, thought they had chafed their moorings. Upon closer inspection, I realized the break was usually 8-10 feet from the bow, clearly caused by other boats sterns/rudders/props backing up to the stretched out mooring lines and cutting them, or getting hung up on when upwind boats came loose. In storms, one’s neighbors may be your worst enemy.
Finally, I think strategies for chafe etc. change markedly depending on whether there is someone on board to attend/inspect periodically.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

Mark Coady

I have a 3/4″ 8 plait spliced to 3/8 G4 for a working rode. Fakes lovely into a smaller locker….much flexier than 3 stand and absorbs stretch energy nicely without a tendency to twist. The splices look more difficult than they are. I do both 8 and 12 strand happily enough. The pairs basically track each other in a uniform fashion back up the line. A tubular U shaped fid is a wonderful thing for this task.
I will tread light here as I am more diver/fisherman than sailor anymore, now with a heavy old 35 foot twinscrew here in the northeast, typically in water and in use year round.

I lived in mortal fear of Rope Chain splices in many years. My live and die approach for anchoring anywhere with a combo rode was forged Grade 8 Crosby wired shackles linked through served and thimbled line. I carried 2 Rodes of 300′, 230 ‘ of 8 plait and 70′ of chain. Figured if I needed to create an extra long one for deep work on a dive site, I could join them with the second rode chain shackle meeting the thimble ending the first. The 70 feet of chain in the middle hurt nothing. No they were not windlass friendly, but in my younger days I was a regular weight lifter and was my own windlass.

So anyway I figured splices around a chain link were a horror and a super stress, like weakening with a knot all the while adding chafe. I commented this to an old rigging hand one day and he said to get then get them super tight. That they don’t chafe much because they don’t move much, they were better than I gave them credit.

I listened and decided to do a test. Before I got a little doggie to walk who gets cold, I stayed out in my exposed summer slip all winter. New England winters chafe dock lines regularly from constant wind and water motion. Especially exposed well out in the harbor to regular gales.
I made up several rope chain splices from 12″ lengths of chain in 3 and 8 strand and put them in the middle of my most vulnerable lines. I was living aboard so it was easy to monitor them.
I ran them for years without failure. Though some of the other ends of the lines wore badly on the rough cleats on the dock, the splices held up better than I imagined. I was amazed at the durability. No it wasn’t storm anchoring stress…I get it..but still…not the glaring weak link I imagined.

That said:
1. If I must use a combo rode, I still want a severe storm one aboard without the splices, when pushed to the limit, always use the toughest gear you can muster.
2. For routine daily anchoring and blustery anchored harbor nights I slept comfortably with 3/4 8 plait spliced tight through 3/8″ G4. It’s held up great.
3. I see the beauty of all chain, but sometimes a combo rigs have a purpose, especially in deep anchoring on a 130’ + dive site.
4. I would prefer to run enough chain to make much of my anchoring all chain, but for the real deep stuff keep plenty of line too. In really rough bottoms, I would prefer to never have more nylon out than a little less than water depth, so you can’t chew it up in coral or rocks.

I have used shallow recreational type mixed rodes on various boats many times. I anchored fine with them. I learned a bunch of tricks for hopping on and off wildcat and gypsy combinations without losing fingers… but, one huge issue….the extra futzing is dangerous sometimes…as when you are caught upwind of a lee shore and the wind is whistling and you really want or need to get going. I did this alone one night at 3 AM with a rope and chain setup in 35 – 45 knots that came in unexpectedly.
I really wanted to get some sleep and head for a nearby harbor…but it was scary getting out of there. I motored a half circle upwind till I was directly upwind, then hauled like a frightened maniac to get it on board on the pass over…then looped it around the Sampson post and raced to the helm before I ran ashore sideways or bounced off the bottom.
It was scary: I had been a little nonchalant about weather..the calm before the storm…….it was a stupid situation to get in (I was too close to shore for the wind shift), and a close call. It’s a case of what I call “learning through accidental survival”.
I did however have my heaviest of three anchors and beefiest rode out as a matter of routine….I never sleep with anything small…..so I could have taken my beating…she was tight as a submarine forward….but I would have had no sleep…. I used to sleep forward in my old boat…and that night with the waves hitting the shallow bank it was like trying to sleep in a washing machine…..
When people ask me about my favorite anchor…I tell them I prefer a 200 Ton locomotive… but I just can’t seem to find a bow roller for it…
PS.. I like my anchors with the whole world hanging onto the other end.

Robert Andrew

How much chain? I have read the articles and posts on AAC and am not sure on sorting this out. Everyone seems to agree that chain is needed for chafe protection but rope is otherwise considered superior as there is no catenary value from chain in any serious wind and rope is a better shock absorber, and the weight of chain would be better invested in the anchor itself. That said, most of the cruisers commenting here seem to have very high percentage of chain if not all chain rodes, with appropriate snubbers. John, you indicated that at one time you used a rode with only short chain leader, but now I think you have an all chain rode. Is this the result of an excess of caution because of where you and other AAC cruisers may be anchoring or is there something else I’m missing here? Fortress in their literature suggests at most 30 feet of chain is appropriate, and that only when typically anchoring in depths of 100 ft. or more. I’m not expecting to be anchoring in the kinds of places that you regularly do and for the more benign situations it seems that there is no real benefit from the additional chain but a number of downsides ( weight, need for snubbers, cleaning – I also read your post on the value of washdown pumps! )

Mark Swanson

Hi John,
I may have missed where you have this information but how much chain do you you use on your bower Spade?

Mark Swanson

Hi John,

I did read all of the anchoring book. I think might be one of those situations like my wife telling me the so and so is on the shelf. I say I looked there twice but when I look again it is right in front where i looked before.

I did see your table where you have 340′ of chain. I also read where you said the rule of thumb is twice the boat length but that may be too long for boats over 35′. I noted your concern (mine as well) in general about weight on the bow. That you got along ok with the old plow (other than dragging) with 6′ of chain. You made the point that in ultimate conditions the chain becomes near straight and does not help in holding. Someplace you say the main purpose of chain is chafe protection on rocks, coral etc. So I am confused. I am sure I am misunderstanding or have missed something here. Is you chain that you use 340′ and if so why do you have so much chain?


Miguel Bogaert

Hi John,
I’ve been trying to figure out rode, anchor and shackle selection for my boat. I’ve reread the anchor book several times and I’m still a bit confused. Please help me understand a few things.

You mention that your current rode is 400ft, but you also state you anchor in very deep anchorages. Can you clarify this? Are the rules for scope different at deeper depths? Much of the literature I’ve read has said that scope of 7:1 or higher for overnight. This would seem to limit most cruising boats to anchorages of 30-50 feet, as I don’t see many boats carrying more than 200-300ft of rode, especially since you recommend all chain.. What is are the scope ratios you recommend for deep anchorages? Is there a good table for this? Do modern anchors that hold better (spade i.e.) need less scope? Do you need less scope for all chain with a modern anchor? I ask, because in California, we deal with very deep anchorages as well, but no coral…which would seem ideal situation for a chain/rope hybrid rode.