Methods of Joining Anchor Chain

So how do you go about joining anchor chain? Maybe you feel that you haven't got enough of it to deploy the minimum recommended scope of four times the depth, and don't want to shell out for a whole new length? Or perhaps you don't want all that weight right up in the bows of the boat and prefer to attach a length of rope to the end of the chain?

But if you do go for all-chain you're going to need a stretchy rope snubber to absorb any shock loads that would otherwise be applied to the anchor, but what's the best way of attaching that to the chain?

There are even several options available to you for joining the anchor chain to the anchor - and it would definitely be a mistake forget to attach the other end to the boat!

Joining Two Lengths of Anchor Chain Together

Clearly it's best to have a single, unbroken length of anchor chain rather than one that is comprised of two lengths joined together. 

Your first inclination may be to use a shackle for joining anchor chain, but you'll find that the rounded ends of a shackle of the same strength as the chain will be too big to go through a link.

OK, you could perhaps use two shackles back-to-back so that it's just the shackle pin that goes through the link.

You'd have to mouse the pins with seizing wire, which could be really bad news if you're hauling it in by hand.

If you're using an anchor windlass - powered or manual - the shackle approach most definitely isn't going to work.

The solution? Use a proprietary connecting link from a respected supplier.

Seafit Connecting Link, 5/16

They're supplied as a two-part component and require that the rivets on one part are properly peened over into the countersunk holes on the other.

A big hammer and a substantial clout is the way to go, after which the join is said to be as strong as the chain itself.

If you're unsure if the rivets are properly peened over, or if there is any detectable movement between the two halves of the connecting link, then you'll have a weak point in the chain. Cut it off, and try again with new one.

Joining Anchor Chain to Rope

One way of joining 3-strand nylon rope to your anchor chain is by splicing a hard eye in the end of the rope and shackling it to the chain. This is absolutely fine if you're prepared to haul in by hand but obviously not if you're using an anchor windlass.

To create a rope-chain join that will pass through a windlass you can use one of two methods:

  1. A back splice to a single link, or
  2. An elongated splice through several links of the chain

And this article describes exactly how to do them both.

Incidentally, I do not recommend that you follow the splice-testing approach set out in the article!

Connecting the Anchor Chain to the Anchor

Once again, a shackle is ideal for this provided it is properly moused with seizing wire - not a a cable tie.

Suncor Universal Anchor Swivel, 3/8

A problem can arise though when, on retrieving the anchor, it arrives at the bow roller the wrong way up - which, in full compliance with Murphy's Law, is what usually happens.

You'll now have to lift the anchor clear of the bow roller to enable it to stow at some risk to your fingers and back muscles.

An alternative approach is to use a two-way anchor swivel which allows gravity to align the anchor such that it will self-stow in the stemhead assembly.

Expensive but worth it maybe? Your call!

Attaching a Rope Snubber to the Anchor Chain

Suncor 5/16

There's not much wrong with tying the snubber to the chain with a rolling hitch - tied properly it shouldn't slip. But most cruisers will happily spent a few dollars on a chain-hook to avoid the over-the-bow contortions the rolling hitch approach requires. 

You do need to keep tension on the snubber line as you deploy it to prevent it from falling off which, given half a chance, it undoubtedly will. Conversely, on retrieving the anchor - when you want it to fall off - it won't.

Blame that Irishman again...

Joining Anchor Chain to the Boat

You wouldn't be the first cruiser to fail to do this, and watch a thousand-odd dollars worth of chain vanish irrecoverably over the bow roller.

It doesn't really matter how you do it as long as you do 'do it' - and in such a way that you can detach it in a big hurry if you have to.

With an all-chain rode it's advisable to tie the end of it to a strong-point in the anchor locker (so you can cut or untie it) rather than use a mechanical fixing.

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