The Right Stuff: Chain Reaction - PassageMaker
Anchor setups with anchor swivels
This Fleming has redundancy in a two-anchor system: the port side anchor is a Rocna with a Mantus swivel while the starboard side anchor is an Ultra with an Ultra swivel.

This Fleming has redundancy in a two-anchor system: the port side anchor is a Rocna with a Mantus swivel while the starboard side anchor is an Ultra with an Ultra swivel.

This anchor setup highlights a number of best practices. With two anchors and two windlasses this Fleming has redundancy and the ability to set two anchors if the situation calls for it. In addition, the boat has been outfitted with two different styles of anchor, giving some options for different bottom conditions.

The use of anchor swivels remains controversial. Proponents claim that swivels reduce the likelihood of the chain fouling around the anchor as the boat swings with wind or current. They also note that swivels help align the anchor as it pulls into place on the bow roller. Others argue that swivels are not necessary and create a link weaker than the chain, putting the ground tackle at risk when you need it most.

If you are going to use a swivel, then it pays to purchase the highest quality available. Both of the swivels shown meet high standards of design and manufacturing.

Inadvertently dropping an anchor while underway can be a disaster. The port anchor is ready to be deployed, but the starboard anchor has been secured with a chain hook and turnbuckle. This device removes any slack so that the tension holds the anchor securely in place, even when bashing into head seas.

The stainless chafe plates will protect the deck. Some would add a sacrificial length of synthetic material to protect the chain and the stainless from wear.

Below in the chain locker, each length of chain has been secured to a bulkhead with a length of rope. The rope must be long enough to reach on deck if all of the chain is released. In an emergency (for example, the anchor is fouled on rocks and you are unable to retrieve it), you will want to be able to dump all of the chain and then cut the rope on deck to free the boat from the anchor.

We often colloquially refer to the “weakest link,” but when it comes to ground tackle that expression becomes a life-saving statement of fact—all the more reason to make sure you have the “Right Stuff.” 

We'd love to hear from our readers about their experiences with or without swivels.
Email: editor@passagemaker.com

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