Anchor Chain Marking
I do not have a fancy chain counter for my windlass. If you ever anchor you need to know how much rode you have out to insure you have proper scope for holding power but not too much. In general more is better for holding but may not be a good idea for other reasons. If you have too much rode out, you might swing into other boats at an anchorage or go aground when the tide goes out by swinging closer to shore. I used to mark my chain with paint. I would lay all the chain out on the ground and paint the chain for about 12″ inside a cardboard box. The problem with paint is that it wears off and the chain has to be dry to repaint. Repainting usually involves taking all the chain out again after it is dry. I decided to try a new method with zip ties. The chain doesn’t twist in the gypsy so I figure the zip ties will last a long time if I put them on top where they won’t rub. I have been using the same color code for years and replicated it with zip ties. I ordered colored zip ties that are red, white and blue. I can keep extra zip ties in my front locker and replace when they break when the chain is wet or dry. The big test will be after anchoring during our three month Alaska trip this summer.
I mark every 25′ with white, every 50′ with blue and every 100′ with red. I put two ties per link on three consecutive vertical links.
No project is complete without finding another problem. After all the chain was out and sitting on the bottom of the bay in my slip, I found the bottom of the anchor locker full of water. There is a false bottom to the locker creating a flat surface to keep the chain from jamming into the small triangle. I lifted the false bottom of the anchor locker and found the drain full of mud probably from years of use and no cleaning. I tried a plunger and running a wire down the pipe. I pumped out all the water and scooped out the mud so I could disassemble the hoses in the bilge. I removed the hose (with a bucket handy) at the check valve after closing the thru-hull. The hose was draining but nothing was passing the check valve. The type of valve on the line was a spring loaded piston type rather than a swing type used on our sinks so I couldn’t just push the valve open. I removed the check valve and took it into my engine room work bench. When I finally got the valve dissasembled I found the piston completely frozen. The screw holding the rubber seal had also broken. I cleaned and buffed all the parts with the scotchbrite side of my bench grinder. I lubed the piston and reassembled and it worked great. Fortunately, when I went into the newly organized Roxia Hardware Store I found the right size screw.