This is a typical raft up on the Mississippi where we boat on the Alton Pool. On this Memorial Day last summer the water was up and running fast, but with most of our boating gang having experience with anchoring and in possession of good ground tackle, we usually avoid any mishaps.
Swing Set came from the factory with a Good Automatic Windlass, an all rope model using 5/8" anchor line. Over the years, some of our friends began replacing their anchor rodes with all chain. The idea appealed to me but our windlass was working very well and putting any chain into the mix was going to mean buying a new windlass.
Milton Ohlsen was a fellow Duck Club Yacht Club member who had left the harbor several years ago, along with his wife Fran, aboard their Kadey-Krogen named Sea Fox, to live aboard and to do the Great Loop. Milton was providing an occasional update via the Alton Pool website, RiverBills.com so I decided to call him. I asked him about ground tackle and how essential it was to have chain along with a rope rode included in our anchoring system. He was emphatic in his reply that a windlass that will accept chain is not an option, but a requirement. Rocks, coral, and even sand over time will wear through anchor line, so the end of the anchor line closest to the anchor and the sea bottom needs to be chain, but how about the whole thing? I knew weight was a consideration, but in addition to that, any wave activity would produce annoying clunking as the chain rides through the pulpit rollers, making sleep nearly impossible.
Sometimes I over-think a problem, and one consideration I had was the thought of the security of our boat at anchor was only a quick knife blade slice away from disaster, whether at night while we were aboard sleeping, or if we left Swing Set unattended for a trip to shore. I'm not sure if there are dastardly folks about that would maliciously cut an anchor line or not, and maybe I'm dastardly enough to think of it, but having all chain would at least require a vandal to have bolt cutters in their possession.
I had been aware that the Good Automatic Windlass Company had a trade-in policy and we would be able to get some value for our used rope windlass, so I called the fellas at Good to see what they thought. The majority of the Good windlasses that accept chain, accept both rope and chain, and the new windlasses come standard with only ten feet of chain, and an additional ten feet could be added for an additional cost. I provided the model of our boat, the length, and where we would be cruising, which was just about everywhere, and we were told what model of windlass to order. My concerns of a calamity involving some miscreant cutting our anchor line was dismissed out of hand, along with the observation that if the cruising world was full of people capable of such a devious act, then maybe we shouldn't be out at anchor at all. Not being one to live life in fear, I abandoned my thoughts of having an all chain rode to protect us against vandalism. The people at Good were also concerned about the weight that we would add with 300 feet of chain, but the big concern was the noise at anchor, which I mentioned earlier.
The new windlass was to be shipped along with the rope/chain rode, and I was to ship our old Good Windlass back in the same shipping box to obtain our trade-in credit. We were able to keep the anchor line and we have it attached to a Danforth on the bow for some additional holding power if needed. More to come in the next post regarding the installation of our new windlass which we decided to do ourselves.