Thursday, September 2, 2010

One of the best sounds in the world...

To a cruiser, one of the best sounds in the world is the sound of chain dropping over the bow to release the anchor into the sea floor. We had many opportunities to hear that sound over nearly 8 years while cruising on aCappella, especially over the 9 months of last cruising season. But there is eventually a price to pay for hearing that sound - the back breaking job of preparing the chain for a few more years of use.

With the slip next to us empty at Olverson's, we had a perfect opportunity to remove all 400' of 3/8" chain, treat the unavoidable rust, clean it up, and re-mark it for deployment. After hauling out the 600 lbs of chain, we realized that the first 200' was worn and rusty but the second 200' was almost new looking. Flipping the chain seemed like a good idea. So we split it up into 2 200' sections, treated the rust on the first 200' and cleaned it all up. It took 3 full days of work in 95 degree heat.

Every boater has their own technique for marking chain. None of them work. We've tried them all. With multiple days of prep and painting time, I used a cold galvanizing primer to cover the old marks and prep all the new ones. It took about 4 applications to each section to get it well covered. The top color coat was done in a bright orange color to hopefully show up in all conditions. It took 4-6 applications to get that properly covered - light coats applied after the previous coat had dried. At each marking, a bright yellow tie-wrap was also applied to give some length indication when the paint starts to wear off.

Many people mark their chain in different colors. In my experience, it's rare enough when you can actually see the marks after a year or so. My technique is to put 1 mark at 25', 2 marks at 50', 3 marks at 75', and 4 marks at 100'. That repeats for the next hundred feet. If I can't remember which "hundred" I'm on, I shouldn't be dropping the anchor.

Once we get to 250', the marks go on every 50'. The end of the chain is tied to the hull of the boat with nylon line which would stretch for another 100' and then snap in an emergency. All of the chain is stored in a chain locker which was also scrubbed and cleaned out. Guess who cleaned the chain locker? Do I have the best wife or what?

All we have left to do is to put the chain back into the locker. The sounds of doing that are likely to be anything but good.


Bill Corbett said...

One of the scariest things about chain is that the old saw 'its only as strong as its weakest link' is true. Fortunately, modern chain is well made, and will serve you well, especially is its maintained.

Here's an idea: How about a chain counter on the windlass that lets you know how many feet you've paid out.

«Côte de Nuits» said...

Another method!
When I leave the boat for a long period in dry storage, I leave all the chain in a large seal and fills it of diesel. Rust does not develop and metal absorbs diesel which protects it long enough.

Adam said...

What did you use to treat the rust on the chain?

TakingPaws said...

Treating rust...good question. I've found that Corroseal works the best. It's all I use in the engine room. But I didn't have enough of it and couldn't get it locally. Instead, I used 2 quarts of Ospho on the chain. It's pretty inexpensive and does a good job. It just doesn't seem to last as long as Corroseal. Both products chemically change the rust into a stable, paintable compound. Corroseal also coats the new surface and seems to stop new rust from forming for longer (3 years). I know it's just a matter of time (1-2 years) before rust starts to form on the back 200' again. It's a never ending battle.