Monday Minute - Extending Anchor Chain

Upgrading Spitfire's Anchoring Capabilities



Over the course of owning several boats, one tends to collect bits and pieces of boat parts one either comes across, or buys for a special trip or project to improve the boat and its cruising abilities. That's my excuse for having a heavy bucket filled with 150 feet of 5/16-inch anchor chain. I kept it because I figured it might come in handy one day.

When I bought our power catamaran, Spitfire came with a reasonable anchor rode combination, which was 60 feet of 5/16-inch chain attached to 120 feet or so of three-strand nylon. For lots of cruising areas, especially in protected anchorages, that is fine.

However, I must admit I became an all-chain guy during the PMM years. Heavy trawlers just don’t play around, and most use all chain, which makes sense on displacement boats that can carry the weight of hundreds of feet of chain. Attach a nylon bridle once the anchor is set, and you can enjoy a snug evening at anchor. The bridle keeps things settled even if the wind pipes up. My custom bridle will be the subject of another post.

The original, 35-lb anchor also was too small, in my opinion. So I quickly upgraded to a big Rocna. And I figured I would use my bucket of chain to augment the 60 feet already on the boat. Luckily it was the same size and type, so it would not be a big deal to replace the combination chain/nylon rode with a longer length of all chain. The extra weight was nothing on this power cat, and it is stored away from the bows of the boat.

But how best to attach the two lengths of chain? Honestly, the idea of connecting lengths of chain together always seemed an iffy proposition to me, and it is one of those dockside debates where everyone has an opinion. Do an Internet search with that question and you will see all sorts of ideas out there, some better than others.

But I found a product that really fit the bill for me. I spent some time with the online catalog of McMaster-Carr, the huge supplier of all sorts of industrial products, hardware, and other materials:

Among the pages of this massive collection of 555,000 items was a product that looked ideal for what I had in mind. Click on this link to see page 1484 in their online catalog:

The Grade 100 Figure-Eight Connecting Link is removable, super strong, ultra resistant to corrosion, and has a working load limit well beyond that of the anchor chain, quite a bit more, in fact, than even the high test G43 grade of ACCO chain.

Connecting Link.jpg

When it arrived, I put the 60 feet of chain into the anchor locker first, attached one end to the boat with a length of nylon line, long enough to allow me to cut the chain loose in an emergency. If I needed to leave immediately, for any reason, I would tie a couple of fenders to the end of the chain in hopes of returning to retrieve it when the situation calmed down.

Then I used the Figure-Eight Connector Link to connect the two lengths of chain together, and was pleased to see it run over the windlass without drama. As I don’t need to put out anywhere near this amount of chain to achieve proper scope where I cruise, I felt this a good way to extend my anchoring abilities with a connecting link much stronger than my chain and which is highly resistant to saltwater and general corrosion.

Have a great week.