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Eliminating chain twist and correctly orientating the anchor for the roller

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What is the issue?
The longer you sit on anchor the more the boat wanders about twisting up the chain. This can make the chain difficult to fit over the windlass gypsy when weighing anchor and in extreme cases prevent the anchor setting correctly. Another problem also emerges when hauling in the ground tackle in that it is a matter of good luck that it comes up with the anchor head orientated in the correct way to sit on the bow roller.

Why address this?
Some people may never experience this problem or can simply resolve it when it happens by lowering down the anchor a short way and turning the chain on the gypsy manually, or by letting the twists spin out themselves before recovering as normal. Some, on the other hand, may have to remove the anchor occasionally and let the chain out to untwist itself. How many times the problem is experienced can depend upon how the anchor chain interacts with the roller and gutter. Flatter rollers probably allow the anchors to turn by themselves most easily. Deeply V'ed rollers, with narrow gutters, can be less forgiving and even get jammed.

Correcting the orientation will involve someone on the bow lifting the horizontal chain run by hand and twisting it and dropping anchor again, or by using some additional persuasion from a boat hook. It is usually not a big problem, just a little extra work, but single handed it is not at all desirable. For shorthanded or solo sailors in crowded anchorages, this is less than ideal and may be worth solving if it is commonly experienced.

How to address this?
Isolate the chain twist from the anchor itself via an anchor swivel. Swivel connectors provide a smooth connection between the windless, anchor chain and anchor. Many windlass manufacturers advise that a swivel is installed between the anchor and chain to prevent the chain from twisting and possibly jamming in the gypsy.

However, it is always a concern when it comes to inserting an articulating element between a reliable anchor and reliable chain. As the ground tackle could be used as the last defence against losing the vessel when all else has failed make certain any swivel deployed is a well-made brand that is well capable of supporting your vessel. Cox Engineering, a technical information resource for yacht owners, has tested the breaking points of a wide range of connectors.

The current approach to installation is to put 3 - 5 links of chain between the anchor and swivels. Check the chain and fittings regularly. It is usually best to use similar metals throughout your system e.g. galvanised anchor, galvanised connector and galvanised chain. This is due to the corrosion caused by electrolysis that occurs when dissimilar metals are in contact with one another in salt water. However it is common practice to mix stainless steel with galvanised steel in the ground tackle but advisable to cut off the last link of the chain seasonally to prevent electrolysis damage.

With thanks to:
Michael Harpur, Yacht Obsession.

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