On the Hook

Posted: July 1, 2012

Care and maintenance of your anchor system components is vital.

By: Capt. Wilson Sheppard

Whether it is at the bottom of a chain locker or on the floor of a body of water, the anchor system is an essential part of your boat’s equipment. It generally consists of an anchor, a length of line and/or chain, and connection hardware. All components of your ground tackle should be regularly inspected and maintained.

Anchor Aweigh

The rode connects to the ring on one end of the shank, the long, straight part of the anchor, and the flukes, blade-like projections that bite or bury into the seabed, are on the other end. Examine the anchor for bends or twists in the shank and flukes. Also, check for chipping and breakage. Be sure the flukes move freely, if they are designed to do so. Last, check the anchor for any signs of corrosion or damage in welded areas.

On the Rode Again

The rode in the anchor system consists of a length of rope (called line), chain or a line-chain combination. The most common type of rode consists of line and chain.

Pay out the entire length of rode from the windlass or the anchor locker. Inside the boat, be sure it is secured to a strong point, such as a cleat or a ring bolt. The inboard end of the line is usually wrapped or fused together to avoid fraying. Check the entire length of line for frays, chafing and knots. Use a permanent marker to highlight any minor wear so you can monitor it later. Knots lessen the line’s strength, so they must be removed, but be sure to not damage the line. The outboard end of the line usually has a loop, called an eyesplice, to connect the line to the chain.

The chain is significantly more durable than the line, but it should be inspected regularly. Check the chain for corrosion, knots and defects. Links with twists, bends, nicks or gouges need to be replaced. Unless the entire length of chain is damaged, replacing individual links is generally less expensive.

Upgrading the Hardware

Although anchor system configurations vary, a thimble and shackles are typically used to connect the anchor and the rode, though a swivel is used sometimes. All of the connection hardware should be made from galvanized or stainless steel and checked regularly for corrosion, distortion, and metal loss or thinning.

A thimble reinforces the eyesplice and protects the line from chafing. It should fit snugly within the eyesplice. If either is loose or damaged, the eyesplice should be re-rigged to secure the thimble. The eyesplice is connected to the chain or directly to the anchor ring with a shackle, which has a U-shaped body and is closed with a removable, threaded pin. The threads should be lubricated with waterproof grease to avoid seizing. The pin should be secured by looping wire or a cable tie through the pin and around the body of the shackle. The condition of the wire or tie should be checked regularly. Never replace the pin with any other type of fastener.

All Washed Up

At the end of every trip, be sure to rinse your ground tackle with fresh water. Use high water pressure on the anchor and chain, but use low water pressure on the line, to avoid getting dirt and debris trapped in the fibers.

Regularly inspecting and continually maintaining your ground tackle will ensure that you can get off the dock and on the hook without worrying. You should only have to worry about having high-SPF sunblock, plenty of drinking water, a hot grill and enough bait. Hopefully, your anchor won’t be the only thing getting a good bite.

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