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Thread: Soft Shackle for Anchor Chain?

  1. #1
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    Default Soft Shackle for Anchor Chain?

    I love my 50# fisherman anchor. But the shackle/thimble combination always jams in the roller, which means lifting it over before bringing it in. Not too tough with crew, not very easy alone. I'm looking at a dyneema soft shackle to let me pull it in over the roller smoothly. The criticisms of this application I've seen all concern chafe. But if chafe were going to cut my line, it would cut the nylon rode too. That hasn't happened. Is anyone using soft shackles on anchor chain? There are also anchor shackles with a hex head that might go easier, though the shackle will always be ninety degrees to the thimble. For those with nylon/chain and a bow roller, how do you bring it in?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Soft Shackle for Anchor Chain?

    The Lewmar swivel might solve your problem. I'd not use fiber at that end of the anchor.


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    Default Re: Soft Shackle for Anchor Chain?

    What has worked for me....Just get the best fitting galv shackle , peen the thread end and hacksaw the key head off the pin for flush. Every few years cut it off and replace it.
    No way I would have soft shackle and I don't trust swivels.
    Do any cutting on the dock or the ground at haul out time. You only ever hacksaw steel on deck once, in my case ,about 1984.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Soft Shackle for Anchor Chain?

    Have you considered a chain-to-fiber splice? AKA a topsail sheet splice? That would eliminate both thimble and shackle. The 3-strand variant is no more difficult than a long splice, and I'm sure there's a modern variant that uses 8-plait if that's what you're using.

    I don't use chain at all with my fisherman anchors, and in 40+ years have yet to have any problem with that, but others here seem to think I'm mad for that practice.

    Alex

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    Default Re: Soft Shackle for Anchor Chain?

    Good suggestions, thank you.
    I did think of a chain splice, but I think that the chain might rust and weaken the nylon. They don't seem to mix well. I could always cut and re-splice, but old rope is tough to splice. If anyone uses a rope to chain splice, I would be interested in how it holds up.
    The thimble is not dainty either. Does anyone have a knowledge of a slimmer style?

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Soft Shackle for Anchor Chain?

    I was addressing the leader chain to anchor connection. The screw-pin D or chain shackle (not bow) with the threads peened and the other end sawn flush is most cost effective. If you anchor for long periods on an all chain rode, then a swivel is needed. In normal use, any twist will be worked out once the anchor is clear of the bottom and free to revolve.

    I advocate good old time three-strand nylon for a fibre rode. Spectra/Dyneema/Amsteel is cool stuff but absent chafe or damage, the anchor will pull out before you part the rode. For anchoring you don't really need the modern stuff's superior strength and remarkable lightness. Besides, it's harder to splice.

    For the true chain splice, you carefully unlay the strands from each other, then untwist each strand's yarns, blend the three sets of yarns into one, divide that into four, and then make paired opposing weaves up the chain. A great pain. And very hard to get the strains balanced.

    I use a back splice chain to rope connection. No thimble and no eye splice. Just start by forming the crown knot on the first chain link, two strands passing one way and the third passing the other. I have found far less trouble with rust than happens with shackles and thimbles and far far less trouble with chafe. The thimble protects the inside of the eye just fine but as the rode drags about on the bottom the outside of the eye takes a major beating. Because the crown knot is pulled tight and kept that way by the rest of the backsplice, there is no chafe between the fiber and the chain. That means neither the rode nor your chain's galvi under the splice is abraded at the splice. You need not fear weakness within the lifespan of the rode.

    If, like me, you carry a kedge anchor with no leader chain (for ease of handling from the dink as you row the hook to deeper water) you might consider protecting the backsplice to anchor shackle connection from absorbing sand and grit that could cause internal chafe in the rode. I just paint the whole splice with Liquid Life Caulk, easily touched up if that's ever needed.

    G'luck

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    Default Re: Soft Shackle for Anchor Chain?

    My understanding is that dyneema is more abrasion resistant than nylon. Rock climbers like using it for this reason though they also like the stretch from nylon so there is a bit of back-and-forth on where to use which. I like the idea of a tool-free soft shackle between my rode and anchor but I so rarely use my anchor I am really not qualified to say much more than I don't see why it wouldn't work just fine.
    Steve

    Boats, like whiskey, are all good.
    R.D Culler

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Soft Shackle for Anchor Chain?

    I think that the chain might rust and weaken the nylon. They don't seem to mix well.
    That's interesting. I haven't encountered that. Not saying you're wrong, just something I haven't seen before and will now watch for.

    I use a back splice chain to rope connection...
    This is all very good advice. As Ian says, the true fiber-to-chain splice is fussy. The backsplice/crownsplice approach is not only simpler, but uses less line should you ever need to cut off the chafed end and re-splice to the chain leader. The only place it falls short, as I see it, is where you need to worry about keeping the rode diameter consistent --for instance, to bring it through a tight spurling pipe, or around the fussier sort of gypsy.

    The thimble is not dainty either.
    No, they really aren't, and thimble diameters are determined by the working strength of the line spliced around them. Too small a radius weakens the line. I learned this while making the patterns for an entire series of thimbles for Port Townsend Foundry: there are industry standards for thimble radii. So you're unlikely to find a slimmer option for the diameter rode you're using. On that same note, what Ian says about the chafe on the outside of a line spliced around a thimble being greater than on a direct fiber-to-chain splice fits with my own experience.

    ...you might consider protecting the backsplice to anchor shackle connection from absorbing sand and grit that could cause internal chafe in the rode. I just paint the whole splice with Liquid Life Caulk...
    That's quite clever. Shortly after writing post #4, I was wondering whether saturating just the last link of the chain and an inch of the splice in epoxy, to seal it from grit and weld it all into a single, non-chafing "link", would be worthwhile. I realize it could easily gum up the works in whatever windlass you're using, but maybe it's worth considering? If the nylon doesn't move relative to the metal, there won't be any chafe between chain and fiber.

    I advocate good old time three-strand nylon for a fibre rode. Spectra/Dyneema/Amsteel is cool stuff but absent chafe or damage, the anchor will pull out before you part the rode. For anchoring you don't really need the modern stuff's superior strength and remarkable lightness. Besides, it's harder to splice
    I *will* argue this one with Ian, since I just shifted over to Yale's 8-plait "Brait" rode from 3-strand (though I won't argue the part about Spectra, etc. being inappropriate for rodes). There's nothing really wrong with 3-strand, of course, and it is certainly easy to splice, but I adore the Brait, with the zeal of the convert, and wish I'd shifted to it decades ago. It's easy on the hands and lovely stuff to handle, the stretchiness is fantastic for shock absorbtion, and in the same chain locker that was once crowded by 20f each of 9/16" and 3/8" 3-strand, I now stow 42f each of 5/8" and 1/2" Brait with room to spare. It's simply amazing how well it stows. Having turned up my nose at plaited line for many years, I'm now a humbled advocate.

    Rock climbers like using it for this reason though they also like the stretch from nylon so there is a bit of back-and-forth on where to use which.
    I used to use a bit of Spectra in my climbing rack, but that's it. Non-stretch, high-abrasion-resistance fibers are fine for very short lengths --the slings on protection, and occasionally runners-- but using a static line for the actual belay line will kill you dead. At least if you're lead climbing. No exaggeration! Maybe some climbers are now using static line like Dyneema on toproped climbs, but even there some shock absorbtion is preferred. I wouldn't do it. I've taken enough wingers even on a TR climb to know that I want at least a little bounce --just as I want a bit of bounce in my anchor rode. Dyneema's good stuff in the right place, but an anchor rode isn't the right place.

    Side note: would a soft shackle (assuming Dyneema, since it isn't a shock-absorbing application and would benefit by abrasion resistance) really be secure enough? My sense is that they rely to a certain degree on steady tension, and as a fiber-to-chain shackle I'd worry it would work loose as the boat wanders about in the tide with the rode occasionally going slack and being dragged about on the bottom.

    Alex
    Last edited by Pitsligo; 09-03-2018 at 03:31 PM.

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    Default Re: Soft Shackle for Anchor Chain?

    I have not had rust affect the strength of the rope to chain splice on my anchor rode. Of course that is not scientific--but there's no apparent damage and I once left the boat anchored in a blow that was enough to bend the flukes of Danforth anchor.

    Kevin
    There are two kinds of boaters: those who have run aground, and those who lie about it.

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    Default Re: Soft Shackle for Anchor Chain?

    A great discussion, thanks.
    I have considered the back splice, I'm glad to know it works.
    I also like plaited line, using it now for my main and mizzen sheets. Next time I buy rode, I'll look into it.
    Maybe I'm overthinking the rust issue. After all, the thimble is galvanized steel too.
    I also considered the security of the soft shackle. If I used one I would seize it.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Soft Shackle for Anchor Chain?

    If the chain link is big enough to allow you to pass the rode thru twice a seized anchor hitch will allow you to eliminate both the thimble and the shackle.

    If it's not big enough then a long narrow "D" shackle will do the trick and it will pass thru the roller easily.


  12. #12
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    Default Re: Soft Shackle for Anchor Chain?

    Dyneema soft shackles have been used for quite some time by very well respected sailors. Evans Starzinger pops to mind immediately. I use them to connect my chain snubber and they work great.

    However, I think in your application, which I take to be the connection between the chain and rode, the common solution is a rope to chain splice. https://www.animatedknots.com/chainsplice/

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    Default Re: Soft Shackle for Anchor Chain?

    I also considered the security of the soft shackle. If I used one I would seize it.
    Sounds like you've got it all under control.

    I will point out one thing that you're probably already aware of (), which is that the more links you put into a system the more places you have for something to go wrong. Maybe a soft shackle with a seizing is no more complex than a chain ("U") shackle with a mousing, but it feels like you're increasing the number of places for something to go awry. I'll leave that entirely up to you, though. I've never actually played with soft shackles, so I'm hardly an expert on them. It may just be my suspicion of new things that makes me hesitant.

    On a tangent, while the anchor hitch is good...
    ...and it is what I use (sic)...:



    ...in johngsandusky's case, my sense is that he's trying to get rid of bulk at the fiber/chain join, and an anchor hitch is unavoidably bulky. Much more so, even, than a shackle and thimble. It sure is nice when it comes time to break off the rode and stow everything below, and for simplicity/infallibility it's hard to beat, but I'm not sure I'd use it in a fiber-to-chain-leader application where I had to worry about it jamming in a bow roller or feeding around a windlass.

    Alex

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    Default Re: Soft Shackle for Anchor Chain?

    I was interpreting his problem as being caused by the rigidity of the shackle to thimble joint. I think that replacing both with something soft would be a good remedy so I showed the anchor hitch as an alternative to the rode to anchor splice in case he is using some form of braided for the rode and can't do the splice.

    I'm pleased to see that you seized the bitter end.

    I don't see any chafing at all on your setup.

    What is that hangy down thingy?

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    Default Re: Soft Shackle for Anchor Chain?

    I'll jump in and suggest that the thingy hanging down is the key that locks the stock in position when unfolded. The clip will keep it from slipping out. We use a hammer and a lashing.

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    Default Re: Soft Shackle for Anchor Chain?

    Quote Originally Posted by Pitsligo View Post
    I've never actually played with soft shackles, so I'm hardly an expert on them. It may just be my suspicion of new things that makes me hesitant.
    Alex
    I have a few spare soft shackles aboard Marianita I will try to remember to bring them to the Wee Nip this weekend.
    Steve

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  17. #17
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    Default Re: Soft Shackle for Anchor Chain?

    I think that replacing both with something soft would be a good remedy so I showed the anchor hitch as an alternative to the rode to anchor splice in case he is using some form of braided for the rode and can't do the splice.
    Good thinking.

    I'm pleased to see that you seized the bitter end.

    I don't see any chafing at all on your setup.

    What is that hangy down thingy?
    Seizing the bitter end *probably* isn't strictly necessary when I'm out cruising, sailing every day, since I can inspect the hitch every morning when the anchor comes up, but it sure makes for good peace of mind. If I were going to anchor for several days, it would be inexcuseable not to seize it.

    That's a brand new rode, but even so, no, chafe doesn't seem to be a problem. That's one of the real advantages of wooden anchor chocks placed well out on a bowsprit: the wood is easy on the rode, and having the chocks so far out keeps the rode well clear of the bobstay. Having a bobstay of 3/8" rod, instead of wire or chain, also helps prevent chafe. Chain would chew wooden chocks to splinters in no time, but since I don't use any chain, that's not a concern.

    The hangy-down thingy is, as Johngsandusky says, the fid for locking the stock in place and a small Wichard hook to prevent the fid from working loose. I made the angle of the fid a bit too steep, so hammering it into place isn't adequate, and lashing it would take longer than I'd like when I'm coming in to an anchorage and trying to get the hook catted out. Looked at more charitably, at least the fid doesn't jam...

    (Here's the thread on the anchor. The last post is about stowage. http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthre...otos-for-Peter)

    I have a few spare soft shackles aboard Marianita I will try to remember to bring them to the Wee Nip this weekend.
    Thank you, Stromborg! I look forward to getting my hands on one, rather than just looking at photos.

    Johngsandusky, I really look forward to hearing how you progress with your rode. I'm curious what you decide to do and how it works.

    Alex

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Soft Shackle for Anchor Chain?

    I mounted an old bronze sheet minch sideways off the side of the stem to replace the wee roller that broke off and floated pooly.
    Fixed the shackle jam up problem.(It needs a cheek thing, someday ill get around to that).

    The problem with a rope to chain splice, we KNOW its going to get tired and need renewing and we will put it off.


  19. #19
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    Default Re: Soft Shackle for Anchor Chain?

    Is that the Minch Who Stole the Sheets?

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    Default Re: Soft Shackle for Anchor Chain?

    Boy howdy, that fairlead roller ain't gonna jam from being crowded by a splice!

    Alex

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    Default Re: Soft Shackle for Anchor Chain?

    Call me paranoid, but i have never used a rope to anchor system. Even my lightweight kedge anchor had 15ft of chain. I never had an issue with rust and nylon. Usual set up was a bow shackle and anchor hitch with the tail stitched off. No way i would ever sleep with a bit of hi-tech string securing my anchor, even if in theory its ok. 3 strand is what i have used in the past, more than 3 strands gets confusing to splice.....

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    Default Re: Soft Shackle for Anchor Chain?

    For those skeptical of dyneema, I would encourage you to go to your local store and buy a little... usually they have tails in the extras bin. Try cutting it alongside some 3 strand nylon. Try to get it to chafe. There is a reason that dyneema is now used for mooring pennant tails over everything else.

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Soft Shackle for Anchor Chain?

    Going south in the ICW a couple of years back we ran aground. The tow boat came out with skinny blue line. I thought that won't pull 16 tons off stiff mud. Then it dawned on me: dyneema! The tow guy confirmed it and put me back in the channel. I believe the nylon would chafe through before the dyneema.

  24. #24
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    Default Re: Soft Shackle for Anchor Chain?

    Very low stretch with dyneema, not ideal for an anchor rode, whereas nylon absorbs wave action and stops the boat from breaking out the anchor.

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    Default Re: Soft Shackle for Anchor Chain?

    The dyneema is great for strength and resisting chafe, but if a soft shackle isn't made up very carefully it will slide apart under continual stress. The stuff does not like to hold a knot or splice. Before putting it to any critical use, I'd advice working with it in non-critical applications to make sure you've got a good understanding of how different it is.
    -Dave

  26. #26
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    Default Re: Soft Shackle for Anchor Chain?

    Thanks guys. If I use the soft shackle I will add seizing.

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    Default Re: Soft Shackle for Anchor Chain?

    You don’t need to seize it, just make it correctly and set the diamond knot. Or you can buy them now.

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    Default Re: Soft Shackle for Anchor Chain?

    Thanks SailAR, I might buy one and make some.

  29. #29
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    Default Re: Soft Shackle for Anchor Chain?

    These links might be helpful, if you haven’t already seen them.

    http://l-36.com/soft_shackles.php?menu=4
    http://forums.sailinganarchy.com/ind...hain-snubbers/

  30. #30
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    Default Re: Soft Shackle for Anchor Chain?

    Thank you.

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