Piece by piece I chose the elements of the anchoring system: a Lofrans Tigress windlass, a Rocna 25 (55-pound) anchor, 300 feet of 5/16th G4 high-test chain connected with a load-rated hot-dip galvanized shackle. These choices were heavily influenced by the anchoring advice from the folks at Morgan's Cloud, Attainable Adventure Cruising web site. Their on-line anchoring book very convincing lays out what anchors to buy (Spade or Rocna) and how to choose chain. They also go in to great detail about shackles: what to buy (a load-rated galvie shackle) and what to never buy (stainless steel swivels). Their experience with decades of high-latitude cruising and anchoring under challenging conditions together with their no BS approach made them my go-to source for anchoring equipment advice.
|The choice of the Lofrans Tigress windlass and the Rocna was relative easy, figuring out the other elements of the anchoring system and how to put it all together took some time.
So when I bought a copy of Creative Anchoring, the new book from Capt'n Fatty Goodlander, I was delighted to learn that the anchor, windless, amount of chain, everything, right down to the shackle, that Capt'n Fatty had aboard his 43-foot, 30,000-pound ketch Ganish, was exactly what I bought for Oceanus. The only difference was that he had 3/8ths G4 chain, whereas I had 5/16ths G4. But his boat is bigger by 8,000 pounds and is ketch-rigged, so it is heavier and has more windage than my boat.
The book, like all of Capt'n Fatty's writing, is funny and entertaining. Better yet, he explains in detail how he rigged and marked his chain and a step-by-step explanation about how he and his wife, Carolyn, deploy and retrieve the anchor. Just what I was looking for.
Virginia and I started putting together our anchoring system. I drilled holes in the deck where our manual windlass was. After removing as much of the balsa wood core as I could reach with a bent nail in a hand drill, I taped up the bottom of the holes and filled them with epoxy thickened with cabosil to about the consistency of honey. This protects the balsa wood core even if the fitting leaks.
The next day I redrilled the holes and ran the bolts through. Virginia, chief electrician aboard Oceanus, mapped out where to run the wire for our windlass. Then we worked backwards with a hole saw along the path the wire would take back to the battery bank in the saloon. It ran under shelves and through lockers in the forepeak, our stateroom and the head until we reached the bathtub.
|Old technology saves the day.
With the pathway to the battery box established, we used a flexible 100-foot tape to measure precisely how much wire we would need. We even used masking tape to hold the measuring tape in place to get a good measurement. The two runs of double ought tinned wire is expensive and we didn't want to buy more than we were going to use.
Don't cheap out on the wire. Undersized wire causes voltage drops that hurts the performance of your windlass and can cause heat buildup in the windlass and the wire. The wire can get hot enough to cause a fire aboard. Goodlander has some scary stories about this in his book. The cable we used is as big around as your thumb.
|The windlass cables start their journey from the battery box to the chain locker. Note the 100-amp breaker in the positive (red) cable.
The installation looked perfect. With excitement and trepidation Virginia stepped on one deck switch: nothing. Then the other deck switch: also nothing. The deck switches feed into a control box that contains two solenoids, one for the up and one for down. Using a chunk of battery cable and bypassing the control box we determine that the winch and the switches were working fine. The control box was defective.
|The new control box in a high locker just outside the chain locker. We made no connections inside the chain locker where they could get wet. The control box is a replacement. The original was defective from the factory.
The new control box from Imtra arrived a week later. It took a few minutes to switch it out and the windlass worked like a champ. It's frustrating to spend so much money on equipment, spend a lot of time and more money on installation and then have a high percentage of the pricey gear not work the first time.
|Me demonstrating poor lifting technique. You can see some of the cable ties marking the chain lengths.
Goodlander marks his chain every 50 feet with nylon cable ties, as many as will fit on one link. That's about five or six in our case. At 50 feet we bristled up one link, at a hundred we did two links separated by three links, at 150 we three links separated by three links, and so on. Goodlander said marking the chain every 50 feet is a compromise between knowing too much and knowing too little. That made sense to me.
Virginia had the idea to spray paint a mark in between, so we can get a little finer detail on how much chain is out. We used some white appliance paint to mark three links every 25 feet, if it wasn't already marked with the cable ties. The advantage of the cable ties is that even if your chain is real muddy, you can still see them. The painted links in between might be obscured with mud, but most of the time we should see the mark.
Considering how close the tolerance is between the chain and the gypsy head on the windlass, it's surprising that all the cable ties don't gum up the works. But I could detect no change as the bristly links came aboard. According to Goodlander, the cable ties last a long time too.
|The new U bolt installed in the chain locker along with some Dry Deck to allow the chain to stay drier.
The chain is not shackled to the U bolt for another reason: in an emergency I may need to divorce the chain from my boat. With a length of rope, just long enough to clear the chain gypsy, I can cut it free if I need to and retrieve it later.
I also put four squares of Dry Deck in the chain locker to keep the chain off the bottom and allow some air to circulate to keep the chain drier. This was another suggestion from Goodlander's book.
|I will need to add a stainless steel kick plate to the bow of Oceanus to protect it from the anchor.
Oceanus has a deep chain locker. The chain drops about six feet before it starts to pile up. This is good to keep the chain from hockling. Shallow chain lockers, so common on newer boats, have a problem with this. I don't anticipate we will.
|Oceanus's deep chain locker.