Monday Minute - My Chain Hook

 A cruiser with a properly set bridle that will stretch rather than tug at the anchor chain.

A cruiser with a properly set bridle that will stretch rather than tug at the anchor chain.

I was talking over the weekend about how much I enjoy being at anchor. Where I live in Annapolis, there are a million or so little coves and river bends that can be found in and around Chesapeake Bay. If you prefer the social activities of a busy seaport, there is Annapolis and St. Michaels, probably the two most popular spots near me. But if you prefer quiet and natural beauty there are literally scores of great places on the upper and lower Bay that will find you surrounded by natural beauty and wildlife. A few days up the Wye River on the Eastern Shore will recharge anyone’s soul, and allow you to read that pile of books you have been collecting all year.

It is a shame so many people get into delivery mode when running up the ICW each spring, as there are so many great places to tuck in, get away for a rest day, and chill out among the tall grasses. New England and, the Pacific Northwest have their own charm and beauty. Sitting at anchor is one of cruising’s biggest  attractions for me.

There are many ways to safely and securely anchor a cruising boat, and most all cruisers have their own style and gear that works for them. Most of these scenarios involve a chain hook and snubber to allow some elasticity in the anchor rode if one is using all chain. The nylon snubber will slowly stretch in gusts, eliminating any jerking of the anchor chain. It acts like a rubber band to keep the chain and anchor set, and not cause a racket to anyone trying to sleep in the forward accommodations.

The problem with many snubbers is that they employ a chain hook to grab the chain. Some minimalist cruisers tie the snubber onto the chain with rolling hitches, but that can be a pain to deal with. A simpler and newer solution is the Mantis Chain Hook that has a latch to keep the snubber from falling off the chain, which is especially helpful in shallow anchorages where the slack of the anchor rode might otherwise cause the chain hook to fall off the chain.

I thought I would share what I use, a custom stainless steel setup that I first used on our power catamaran. We had it made by a metal fabricator in Florida, using ⅜-inch stainless steel plate. This hook is super strong, and even the stainless carabiner is rated for over 2,600lbs.

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On a power cat, it is important to use two nylon lines to the chain, one from each bow, to keep the boat straight into any wind or current. The nylon lines can be adjusted as necessary from bow cleats to keep the boat secure and those aboard comfortable. It worked brilliantly, in my opinion, and I also found this works exceedingly well on monohulls. Many sailors and trawlermen use two lines, straddling the bow. While I never did this, I’m sure this works well even with just a single nylon line. It still won’t separate from the chain.

 It is a simple job to slide the gate open and fit the hook around a link of chain then close the gate to keep the chain captive. In a pinch the shackle could be attached to one snubber line and both gate and carabiner left off. It would still work as a traditional chain hook. And for serious conditions or longer term anchoring, the carabiner could be replaced with another shackle.

It is a simple job to slide the gate open and fit the hook around a link of chain then close the gate to keep the chain captive. In a pinch the shackle could be attached to one snubber line and both gate and carabiner left off. It would still work as a traditional chain hook. And for serious conditions or longer term anchoring, the carabiner could be replaced with another shackle.

On Spitfire, we used ½-inch three-strand nylon line with this hook, which provided a good degree of stretch. It kept the snubber doing its job, and could not come off the chain, even in shallow water that had it resting on the bottom. It is simple to use and pretty foolproof.

I look forward to using it again. Come on spring, we are ready for you...

Have a great week!