Safety Step: Marking Our Anchor Rode

Please be sure to read the UPDATE at the end of this post :)

May 2013

There are a couple of things that make me super nervous about our little adventure and anchoring is a biggie!  So, while Journey was on the hard, we took some time to familiarize ourselves with our rode.

Journey’s vessel description said she had about 100 feet of chain and 200 feet of nylon rope.  Because of our weekend trips last fall, we were able to figure out it was marked with various colors of fading paint at every 20 feet.

I read a million and one posts about the “best” way to mark your chain, and boy are folks opinionated about it!  Mark it, paint it, zip it, sew it, tie it at every 10 feet, 20 feet, and/or fathom!  I’m quickly learning that with sailing, most issues are this complicated and you gotta do what feels right for you.  Here’s a link to a forum that was helpful and overwhelming all at the same time!

So, after a heated discussion at the local hardware store, jr and i decided to paint and sew webbing at every 20 feet.  And that’s what we did!

that's me!  painting our chain at every 20 feet!

That’s me! Painting our chain at every 20 feet!

First, I went through and painted the chain and rope at every 20 feet.  For the chain we used a white rustoleum spray paint.  I re-coated it until I ran out!  I think i gave it about 5 coats.  For the rope, I used a purple spray paint that we had around the house.

sewn onto the chain as well.

Tabs sewn onto the anchor chain at every 20 feet..

tabs sewn on at every 20 feet!

Tabs sewn on the rode as well!

I read somewhere that those hard, plastic zip ties could potentially jam your windlass.  I love our windlass.  Like, a lot.  So, I wanna treat it well and I didn’t want to take any chances.  I’ve also been sliced by those nasty, little zip ties as they slid across the palm of my hand and it wasn’t pretty.  I thought the webbing would be kinder to the windlass and a bit more permanent.  Only time will tell (see update below!)

We used 1 tab at 20 feet, 2 tabs at 40, 3 at 60 and 4 at 80 feet.  Since we had 100 feet of chain, we know that where the rope and chain meet is 100 feet.  We used the same system on the rope and left the 200 mark tab-less but painted.  This system was completely arbitrary, made up by us because it made sense to us!  We also wrote it down and plan to have it displayed in the anchor locker in case we forget.

chain and rope - double marked and ready to go back into it's home :)

chain and rope – double marked and ready to go back into it’s home :)

We have yet to use the anchor since we marked it, but I’ll be sure to give you an update as to how it works for us.  It sure felt good to get this organized and marked.  We joke that when a fellow sailor pulls up next to us and asks how much rode we have out, we’ll be able to answer to the foot!

Note: the pic above shows red and blue paint as well.  We never could figure out what these colors meant, so we went with purple and over-“rode” the previous markings :)

UPDATE – June 2014

It has been about a year since we pulled the chain and rode out of our anchor locker and marked it!  Here is a picture taken on May 28, 2014 at Port Canaveral, FL of our anchor chain at 60 feet.

Anchor chain, after 1 year of use, at the 60 ft mark.

Anchor chain, after 1 year of use, at the 60 ft mark.

Take a moment to compare it to the pictures of the freshly painted chain above. You can see that the white paint has worn off on the outside, and the white tabbing has turned a muddy brown color (but it’s still there!) Having anchored out about 80% of the time for the past 7 months, our chain has gotten some ware! I still search for traces of the white paint when letting the chain out because it alerts me as to when the tabs will appear, so I’m pleased that we took the time to paint.

The tabs are great. They take the guesswork out of anchor scope counting and even though they have turned an icky color, they are still very much in tact and visible enough to help in counting.

When we do it again, we will definitely use the white spray paint again. Although it has worn off significantly, and is probably not effective alone, there is enough paint left to bring my attention to where the tabs will be. If the tabs need replacing, we may try a different color although I think the muddy water of the bay will foul any color after a while.

We liked the marks at every 20 feet, but we may add an additional tab in between at every 10 ft as well. This will help us with snubber positioning, but isn’t necessary, just obsessive :)  Hope this update was helpful!

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