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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Posts
    2,779

    Default Twisted anchor chain

    We have 80 metres of chain. The first 40 or so work well but then when lowering the anchor we get a build up of twists in the chain as it comes up out of the locker. These naturally jam in the windlass and cause havoc with boat control! We have tried taking it all out and straightening it, but still twists re-appear. What can we (ie really the foredeck hand) be doing wrong?
    Peter

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Ammersee, Bavaria
    Posts
    4,677

    Default Re: Twisted anchor chain

    How did you take it all out and straighten it?

    The chain can't twist as it goes through the windlass without jumping, so any twist in the chain is already there in the anchor locker. When paying out chain, any twists will be shifted and concentrated towards the end in the locker as the windlass will only pay chain out straight.

    The best way to get rid of the twist is to dump all the chain in the dinghy by hand (without the anchor attached) and then use the windlass to transfer it all back into the anchor locker (the windlass will remove all twist as long as the chain doesn't jump). After it's all on board, re-attach the anchor. This should solve the problem.

    PS: If it is really badly twisted, you may need to halt the operation and work twists out by hand in the dinghy before resuming with the windlass.
    Last edited by Baggywrinkle; 04-06-19 at 11:50.
    The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2018
    Location
    Wolverhampton, UK Boat: Gosport
    Posts
    118

    Default Re: Twisted anchor chain

    Would a rotating shackle help?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Home UK Midlands / Boat Croatia
    Posts
    18,883

    Default Re: Twisted anchor chain

    I once let my whole length of chain, plus anchor, out in water that was deeper than the length of chain, then wound it all in again to get it straight. If you have a lot of twists in the locker that won't go over the gypsy then this won't work because the chain plus anchor will be too heavy to lift over the gypsy to remove the twists. Baggy's idea is then a better one.

    Richard

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Sydney, Australia.
    Posts
    5,094

    Default Re: Twisted anchor chain

    A mentioned any twist in the chain cannot pass through the gypsy - unless the chain jumps in the gypsy's pocket. So any twists in the locker were there to start with and any twists caused by your yacht 'rotating' tide or wind - will stay outside the windlass and will not pass into the locker.

    I have this nasty feeling that twists in the locker are there because someone simply dropped the chain into the locker when loading the chain and the twists have been there since commissioning. It is better to load chain by loading it using the windlass - and then any twists will fall out as the chain is loaded.

    The above methods, posts 2 and 4, are really all that you can do.

    However as you deploy the chain any twists will bunch up in the locker and be a devil to untwist - in the locker.

    Instead of dropping into the dinghy 80m of chain is heavy especially if it is 10mm or 12mm --- I'd try to discharge to a pontoon, have the bow roller overhanging the pontoon, quay, pier and discharge to there. Once you get to the point where the twists in the locker are unmanageable - take the chain in the locker out by hand (with all the twists) and dump, unceremoniously) on the pontoon. Re-feed the lot you discharged first - so you will be end for ending. The chain you discharged will then be twist free and will feed into the locker, twist free. Once you get to the lot that is twisted, also called hockles, you will need to untwist by hand - and then feed back into the locker, through the windlass - all now twist free (and you will have end for ended the chain at the same time.

    Your bitter end will have been secured to a strong point in the locker - this should have been completed usually with a short strop of rope - to allow you to cut free in an unimaginable emergency. That strop may contain twists. make sure you take them our before you re-attach.

    When you re-attach your anchor make sure the chain between gypsy and chain is untwisted before you attach to the anchor (and cut one link off to ensure it is twist free, if necessary - or your anchor will never arrive correctly at the bow roller).

    So - your bowman has been doing no wrong - the twists were always there.

    This is fairly easy to complete if the chain is 6mm or 8mm. For 10mm or 12mm - you might need someone (preferably strong). 12mm chain is heavy (and might seriously over load a small dinghy)

    We once discharged 50m of 8mm chain to a big box in our dinghy (no problem). Of course once we got it to the beach it was impossible to lift

    Jonathan.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Boat (now back in) the Clyde
    Posts
    5,324

    Default Re: Twisted anchor chain

    As others have said, chain twists should not be able to pass the anchor windlass. Therefore if after taking it all out the chain was put back in the locker with the windlass then there shouldn't be any more twists.

    But I wonder if it is in fact "twists" that is the issue. 80m is a good load of chain (like we have). When bringing the chain into the locker, do you ensure that the chain is not piling up under the windlass, as happens on most boats? If left to pile up this then falls over in a heap and can cause such problems.
    We have a "chain prodder" (a T shaped stick) which we use to jostle and spread the chain at least every 5 metres, to ensure the chain does not stack up and jam.
    Do you do likewise when retrieving the chain (or do you have the 1 boat in 100 where 80m of chain stows itself without stacking)? If not could this be the issue?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2017
    Posts
    170

    Default Re: Twisted anchor chain

    It could be simply that the latter part of the chain hasn’t been used enough. When I bought my new chain three years ago it jumped off the windlass constantly and I was advised to let it all out and back in a few times to allow the galvanised links to run smoothly. I did it and it has been fine since. Maybe your lash half hasn’t seen as much use

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2001
    Location
    North Wales, sailing Aegean Sea or Menai Strait
    Posts
    21,701

    Default Re: Twisted anchor chain

    Twisted chain does seem to be an inexplicable mystery. I fully agree that the mechanism of a windlass gypsy would seem to make it impossible that chain would twist in the locker, but it happens.

    A few years ago we were part way through a Greek season. Having berthed stern-to a few times most of the chain had been out of the locker. We went to anchor in a bay at Iraklia and the chain refused to come out of the locker. I have never experienced such twisting, almost tied in knots. We went out into deep water and tediously unravelled all 65 metres of it, hanging straight down. I then loaded it back into the locker and it has never happened since.
    Answers to some technical queries at new website http://coxeng.co.uk

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Posts
    7,149

    Default Re: Twisted anchor chain

    Possibly your only way though long and tedious will be let all the chain out in deep water. When you get a bunch up that can’t come through the windlass, tie a rolling hitch to the chain and tension via a winch. This will take the load off the twisted in the locker so you can unravel. Allow to stay in the anchor well, then take off the strain of the line with the rolling hitch tied then repeat lowering.
    It Will mean this rather convoluted way will get you there in the end.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Sydney, Australia.
    Posts
    5,094

    Default Re: Twisted anchor chain

    I have heard of those who have deployed all their chain in deep water to find that their windlass was insufficiently man enough to retrieve the complete rode. You can obviously retrieve by hand, your windlass surely has a manual override and you can equally obviously use a sheet winch - but both can be rather tedious/

    It might be a valuable lesson to find the capacity of your windlass but if you want to deploy the lot - plan ahead. I'd personally deploy into a dinghy, the quayside or 'shallow' water (and retrieve with the engine running or shore power).

    Jonathan

    Jonathan

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