Boat Projects: How much anchor chain do we have, anyway...?

When you anchor out, it's pretty important to know just how much anchor chain/rope you have attached to the end of your anchor.
There's a standard of letting out a 5:1 scope in normal conditions - more if the conditions are sketchy.  So if we're in, say 10 ft of water, we'd need to let out 50 ft of chain, right?  (and don't forget those 6-8ft tidal swings we deal with here in Savannah...)

In order to do this, you kinda need to know how much chain you have - and hopefully have it marked at specific intervals in order to count how much you're letting out, right?  Well, up to this point, we had absolutely no idea.  We'd just drop the anchor, kinda eyeball it, and hope for the best.  We've done pretty well so far - probably because we'd always drop what we thought was enough and then drop some more.  And maybe a little more after that.  But we both want to be more accurate about it as we begin to travel around and spend more time anchoring around other boats.  You certainly want to know how much chain you have out when the tide changes and the boats all start to swing around 180 degrees.I'd rather not play bumper boats in a mooring field.

So how did we tackle this?

#1: Get the chain out of the anchor locker and lay it out on the deck in 30' runs. 
#2: Mark the end of each run with a specific color of zip tie (we went in rainbow order, of course...)
We used 2 ties at each location in case one breaks off over time.

#3: Hang ties inside the locker to use as a cheat sheet for when we forget how we did this in the first place...
Every time you see a tie, you're at anther 30' of chain. 

We also counted out the rope that is tied to the end of the chain.  Just for the record, we currently have about 180' of chain followed by some amount of rope that we can't currently remember.  Guess I should've blogged about this sooner!

#4: Just in case you think we forgot the fun part of projects
Finish off with a cold beverage in the sun!


  1. Y'all are so crafty! Not to be confused with craftsy in this case, although you are that, too. That drink looks good...

    1. Thanks! We kind of stole the idea and made it work with what we could find. And the drink was DElicious.

  2. Respectfully, your scope calculation is a common cause for anchor dragging. You add the depth of the water, the distance from the water to your roller, and the tide then multiply it by your desired scope ratio. Ten feet of water plus, let's say, 4 feet to the bow, Plus 8 feet of tide equals 22 feet times 5:1 or 110 feet. Minimum. The chain marking is excellent though. So's the drink!

    SV Kintala

    1. Thanks, Deb. We're actually aware of that, I just simplified the description for all of my family/friends that are unfamiliar with sailing and it's terminology. Perhaps I over-simplified in this instance. Hopefully your much more detailed/accurate description will help those that are actually participating in this sailing life. Fortunately for us, we're learning in these crazy Savannah tidal swings and have yet to drag, thanks to our diligence - and tendency to go way overboard with chain. Thanks for the comment! :)


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