Anchor Rode Chaffing - Georgetown, Bahamas 2/13/10

Anchor Rode Chaffing - Georgetown, Bahamas 2/13/10

Mary Rose V had two very nice CQR anchors on her bow when we bought her with 250 feet of three strand nylon rode attached to the 25 foot 3/8 inch chain on the anchor end of our ground tackle. One weighed 33 pounds and the other was 44 pounds. We knew that we needed at least one anchor with a minimum of 75 feet of chain for the Caribbean trip that we are on. We also felt that it would be better to have two types of anchors so that if we experienced difficulty with the CQR holding we would have an alternative to try for a better hold.

The Admiral and I went to the St Petersburg boat show in December of 2009 and we saw a Delta style stainless steel anchor for sale with a show special. After about two hours of nonstop whining from the Captain, the Admiral cheerfully agreed that we indeed had to have the stainless steel anchor with the boat show special price that was too good to pass up.

We met the vendor after the show and we went back to the marina with our new ground tackle in hand. We purchased our anchor from Captain Jack at Seven Seas, his phone number is 410-340-8244. His business is in the Ft Lauderdale area but he makes regular trips throughout Florida. We were very pleased with the anchor and the service we received from Captain Jack. He came by to visit a few weeks after the purchase just to make sure everything was OK. We give Captain Jack a very strong recommendation.

While we were in Georgetown, we received a weather forecast for a strong frontal passage with squalls that could deliver winds in excess of 40 kts. The whole harbor was a buzz about the threat of the squalls and the wind forecast. Cruisers made a run on the town and loaded up on water, stores and fuel like they do in the Midwest when a blizzard is knocking on their door. We knew we had to prepare and we looked at the possibility of moving to another anchorage but there were few options available to us with our keel depth and none seemed to offer any more protection from the wind direction. So our storm preparation at anchorage was to batten down the hatches, make sure the anchor was surely buried deep in the pure white sand 10 feet below our keel and then increase the scope of our anchor. We choose to anchor with the delta on arrival at Georgetown due to the soft white sand bottom. There was no apparent need for the all chain anchor. So now the dilemma was do we change anchors and move from nylon rode to chain? I made the decision to say on the delta with nylon rode and 25 feet of chain attached to the anchor. I felt that the stretch of the additional nylon rode would be better for staying dug in and not dragging anchor. We had already had some strong winds and we knew the anchor was well set and dug in tight from several days at anchor and healthy winds. We let out more anchor line to increase our scope. We were in about 10 feet of water and the bow is about 4-5 feet from the water line. So that’s 15 feet times 7 for normal conditions or 105 feet of anchor line. I increased that to 125 feet for the storm that was headed our way.

The wind began to blow straight down the harbor and the waves stated to build as well. At times it felt more like we were sailing rather than at anchor. The waves were coming at us nonstop and were at least two feet high. Mary Rose stained at the anchor and you could feel the rode stretch as tight as possible and then Mary Rose would spring forward and begin to hobbyhorse a bit. We set the anchor drag alarm on our GPS and never once felt like we were in peril or about to drag anchor. However there was one boat without crew that did drag anchor about 2 AM. We were made aware of it on the VHF by a captain doing an all night anchor watch for the protection of his boat. We were grateful to him for his effort even though the dragging vessel was no threat to us. Fortunately we did not have any other boats anchored directly forward of Mary Rose. The watchful captain repeatedly blew a warning horn after he made his VHF announcement giving the location of the boat dragging anchor. The dragging boat simply slid past all the boats aft of it and the anchor reset itself in shallower water before the boat went aground.

I inspected our anchor rode for chaffing the next day and was surprised to see that there was significant evidence of chaffing in less than 24 hours. The chaffing had the appearance of melting the nylon rode. So it is safe to say that the constant movement creates heat at the rub points on the nylon anchor rode. The lesson we learned from this experience is that you MUST adjust your anchor rode early and often when conditions are extreme. All damage to the anchor rode could have been avoided if we had simply let out a foot of rode or taken in a foot of anchor rode every couple of hours during the high wind period. We will monitor our chaffing more closely from now on and take preventative measures early and often. If we had decided to go to all chain we still would have had the same issue with chaffing of the nylon snubber that we use to prevent the shock due to lack of stretch when anchored with all chain.

Remember check early and often for anchor rode chafe in extreme conditions and move the anchor rode in and out every couple of hours when conditions warrant. We also reposition our anchor rode every 12 – 24 hours under normal conditions just to prevent chaffing and extend the life of our anchor rode.

Captain Don Montgomery

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