Anchor, Chain Locker, and Anchor Roller, Part 14, Marking the Anchor Rode and Anchoring

Oystercatcher at anchor in the Cooper River on an outgoing tide
Having completed the installation of the chain locker panel, and having completed what seemed like a million other tasks, I finally was able to launch Oystercatcher and put her to good use. Along the way, I of course found the opportunity to anchor her and thus try out her new anchoring system that I had labored so long to complete. My anchoring of Oystercatcher and some of the final tasks that I undertook in the months after her first launching are the subject of this posting.
One of the first things I noticed about Oystercatcher after I had docked her in her slip was that the 33 pound Lewmar claw anchor did not look out of proportion. That was good.
In fact, I thought the anchor, the anchor roller, and the anchor platform all looked quite nice together on this boat.
Here's how the mahogany anchor platform appeared from the starboard side of the boat. Please pay no attention to the bow line running athwart it and athwart the blue furling line. This was but a temporary thing.
The mahogany anchor platform, sitting as it was on the centerline of the deck, did a nice job at distracting attention from the offset anchor roller. You'll recall from my earliest postings that this was one of my concerns.
There was plenty of room in this set-up for the 5/16 inch chain.
One task that I had not completed before the launching of the boat was the painting of the epoxy in the old navigation light holes. You'll remember that I had removed these old lights and filled the holes with thickened epoxy. Now I needed to get some paint on them before the sun started to break down the epoxy.
Ideally, I would have used gelcoat for this job, and I would have tried to get a perfect match with the existing gelcoat. It was, though, difficult to work in these conditions. It was hot, it was hard to reach this area from the dock, and the boat was moving up and down. Besides, I had plenty of other more pressing jobs to complete now that the boat was sitting in the water.
For this little project I used Blue Water Marine Mega Gloss one-part polyurethane paint. I had purchased a quart of this economy grade paint from RAKA Epoxy for miscellaneous touch-up work.
Working from the dock was so much more difficult than working on the boat under the tarp back home. It's easy to see why there are so many bad looking boats in so many marinas, especially in this part of the country - where you can leave your boat in the water year round. Up north, you have no choice but to haul the boat out every autumn.
This made me all the more glad that I had purchased this trailerable Ericson 25. I could haul the boat out free of charge, and I could work on her in my own boatyard - i.e., the yard beside my house - without having to pay a boatyard for haulout and storage fees.
Some of my neighbors at the marina do everything they can to avoid these fees - sometimes to the point of what appears to me to be folly. Is it better to pull the prop shaft while the boat still sits in the water, or is it better to do this work while the boat sits on the hard? "Better work fast to hammer that wooden plug into that hole; that water comes through there faster than you'd ever think." "You don't have to worry about that plug while you're working on that prop shaft. It'll stay put." These are the sorts of things I've heard from two different people in my area of the marina alone.
After I had applied two coats of this polyurethane paint to the old nav light holes, I focused on the marking of the anchor rode. My friend and I had experienced some mild frustration in our initial anchoring, because it was impossible for us to determine how much rode we had paid out. We both talked about our experience with this issue, he from his Coast Guard experience, and I from my experience of sailing aboard tall ships, where it's common to mark the rode in shots, with one shot equaling 90 feet (15 fathoms). Since I only had 230 feet of rode with which to work - 200 feet of rope and 30 feet of chain) - the shot approach was not practical. I opted instead for markings at every 50 feet.
I used seine twine for these markings. I had earlier purchased a one pound spool of #36 twine from Sgt. Knots in North Carolina. Seine twine is a common sight on tall ships, where it's used for all sorts of things, especially for the mousing of shackle pins and the whipping of the ends of lines.
Starting at the point where the chain joined the anchor, I measured out 50 foot segments of the rode. I marked the 50 foot mark with one lashing, the 100 foot mark with two, and the 150 mark with three. Below, we see the 150 foot mark.
The 200 foot mark, of course, received four lashings.
In terms of the anchoring process itself, I should note that the technique that I had envisioned and that I had incorporated into the design worked well. The chock and the port side cleat were of great assistance to me in the paying out of the rode by hand. Likewise, the chock and the cleat worked well in the securing of the rode while setting the hook.
As far as the anchor roller itself was concerned. As you see in the pictures above and below, despite the fact that the roller was canted to the port side, the boat still sat centered relative to the anchor itself. Moreover, it did so with a fair lead on the rode. There was no biding or chafing of the rode on account of the width of the Garhauer anchor roller and its flared side pieces on its forward end.
All in all, this was a satisfying set-up - one that was both practical and aesthetically pleasing - and I was glad that I had expended the time and effort to make it a reality.
This ends this multi-part article on my creation of a new anchoring system for Oystercatcher, my Ericson 25.

Anchor, Chain Locker, and Anchor Roller, Part 13, Chain Locker Panel, Part II

The chain locker panel, ready for installation
Having installed the anchor and the anchor rode, I could now install the chain locker panel. This installation involved more than just screwing the panel into place. The steps I took in the installation of this panel on Oystercatcher, my Ericson 25, are the subject of this posting.
I began by removing the chain and the nylon rode from the chain locker. While I was at it, I rechecked the bowline to make sure all was well.
I had spent a lot of time making sure the V-berth was nice and comfy. This would be the Admiral's bed chamber, and as everyone knows, if the Admiral's not happy, no one is. The chain locker, with its odor of wet rope and pluff mud, could not impose on her queenly comfort. Therefore, the panel needed to seal off this space as thoroughly as possible.
As I said in my earlier posting on the chain locker panel, I had purchased two different deck plates for the holes in this panel.
I applied butyl tape around the flanges of these deck plates.
This would eliminate the flow of air in both directions. I didn't want any air flowing into the V-berth from the chain locker. Likewise, I didn't want any air flowing out. You might recall from an earlier posting that I had constructed an air conditioner box for the companionway of this boat. I wanted to keep as much cool air in the boat as possible.
One of the benefits of having deck plates in the chain locker panel instead of just screens (which the panel originally had) is that it allows you to have ventilation - if you want it, when, for example, the weather is cool and mild and air conditioning is unnecessary.

I used stainless steel machine screws and self-locking nuts for this installation.
Now that this was out of the way, I could focus on the sealing of the panel itself.
Around its perimeter, I installed closed-cell weatherstripping foam.
I did the same thing to the cut-out in the fiberglass bulkhead.
These pieces of weatherstripping foam would provide two separate barriers against the ingress and egress of air.
I then installed the panel with oval-head wood screws on finish washers. These oval-head screws and finish washers matched those that Ericson had originally used throughout the boat.
The panel was nice and snug in its new home, or I should say its old home. It was well-epoxied, well-varnished, well-sealed, and it now provided both visible and physical access to the chain locker simply by my unscrewing of the deck plates. All of these things told me that this was time well spent.
This ends this posting on my installation of the chain locker panel on Oystercatcher, my Ericson 25.

Anchor, Chain Locker, and Anchor Roller, Part 12, Anchor and Rode, Installation

The installation of the nylon and chain rode
Having completed my installation of the chain locker platform I could now focus on the installation of the nylon and chain rode. This was the simplest and most pleasing part of this entire project. The steps I took to accomplish this on Oystercatcher, my Ericson 25, are the subject of this posting.
I had earlier purchased a 33 pound Lewmar claw anchor. I explained my rationale in an earlier posting for my purchase of this anchor designed for boats in the 36-40 foot range:
I also had earlier purchased 30 feet of chain for the rode.
This was Acco brand 5/16 inch, G4, High Test chain. I had purchased it from Defender, the well-known chandlery in Connecticut. According to my research, the suggested minimum by ABYC (American Boat and Yacht Council) for a 25 foot sailboat with a 9 foot beam in 30 knots of wind was as follows: 1/4 inch chain with 150 feet of 3/8 inch nylon rode. The ABYC suggested-minimum for a 30 foot sailboat with a 10 foot beam was 5/16 inch chain with 200 feet of 7/16 inch nylon rode. Just as I had done with the anchor, I up-sized for the sake of safety. In other words, I followed the ABYC suggestions for a 30 foot boat with a 10 foot beam, even though I had a 25 foot boat with an 8 foot beam.
This Acco brand 5/16 inch, G4 High Test chain that I purchased was made in the U.S.A., and it had a working load of 3900 pounds. I opted for 30 feet of this chain on the recommendation of Don Casey and Lew Hackler, Sensible Cruising: The Thoreau Approach, a Philosophic and Practical Approach to Cruising (1986). These gentlemen confirmed what my research had revealed - that no one would want less than 5/16 inch chain, even on a small pocket cruiser such as the Ericson 25. It's all about the catenary effect. These gentleman also recommended a minimum chain rode of 3 fathoms (18 feet), but urged their readers to consider 30 feet instead. Again, it's all about the catenary effect. The heavier the chain and the longer the chain the more likely the pull on the anchor is horizontal (which keeps it set in the seafloor) rather than vertical (which frees it).
The G4 chain had arrived at my house in a plastic bucket. Yes, that's how Defender ships chain by UPS, in case you're wondering. Surprisingly, the shipping was not that much more than it usually is from Defender. I guess that if it weren't, then no one would ever buy it online from Defender. I should mention that I bought this chain from Defender rather than from a local West Marine because Defender sold Acco brand G4 High Test. The highest grade that West Marine sold was Acco brand G3 Proof Coil. The G4, as I said, is rated to 3900 pounds. The G3, on the other hand, is 1900 pounds. There is not that big a difference in price between the two, and it actually cost me less to buy the G4 and have it shipped to me in South Carolina than it would have cost me to buy the G3 locally from West Marine.
In terms of the shackles, I again did my homework. According to my research on various online sailing forums, Crosby brand shackles were preferable to all others. Hamilton Marine in Maine was the only chandlery I could find that sold the High Test versions - recognizable by their galvanized pins. The lower test versions, I should note, have red pins. I purchased two, 3/8 inch, High Test shackles. Each shackle was rated at 2 tons, in other words, 4,000 pounds. This meant that the shackle closely corresponded to the 3,900 pound rating of the 5/16 inch G4, High Test chain. If I had not purchased this 3/8 inch High Test shackle, then the shackle would have been the weakest link in my entire anchoring system.
One of these shackles was for the joining of the chain to the anchor. The other was for the joining of the chain to the eye splice in the nylon rode. In terms of the chain itself, it's worth pointing out that if you click on the picture below, you can see that Acco has stamped "G4" into the side of each link.
As far as the nylon rode was concerned, I had earlier purchased a box full of it from West Marine during one of their one-day sales. That saved me about thirty dollars.
This wasn't the bottom of the barrel stuff. It was manufactured for West Marine by New England Ropes. It included a pre-spliced eye.
I opted for 1/2 inch x 200 feet of nylon rode for several reasons. First, it exceeded ABYC standards for 30 foot boats in 30 knot winds. I had a 25 foot boat. Secondly, it had a tensile strength, i.e., a breaking strength, of 7,500 pounds and a working strength of 2,800 pounds. Finally, I knew an Ericson 25 owner in Alaska who used 1/2 inch x 200 feet of nylon rode. He said that he preferred the 1/2 inch size rode because it was easier for him to handle when the time came for him to weigh anchor. I should note that this is the same E25 owner from Alaska whose anchor roller set-up I used as a model of sorts for my own:
I began my installation of these components by mounting the anchor on the anchor roller.
Then I applied marine grease to the pin of the shackle. This would help me in my installation of the pin, and it would help me down the road whenever I needed to remove it.
After I had installed the pin in the shackle, I secured the pin in place by installing a plastic wire tie. This would prevent the pin from gradually working itself free. I also locked the chain in place by means of the chain stop. This would prevent the anchor from slipping off the roller.
Back in the cockpit I removed the nylon rode from the box and carefully uncoiled it.
With the bitter end in hand, I walked forward to the anchor roller. It was early April in the Carolina Lowcountry, and for several weeks pollen had been blowing around all over the place. The deck and the companionway hatch were covered with it, despite the fact that the boat was well tented.
Down inside the chain locker, I tied off the bitter end to the stainless steel eye with a bowline. This end of the rode would not bear a load. The knot was simply a way of ensuring that I did not loose the rode whenever I was paying it out by hand.
Here's how it looked from the V-berth. All 200 feet of the nylon rode had to fit in the locker with enough room left over for the 30 feet of chain. I was confident that the nylon rode would fit, because the Ericson 25 owner in Alaska had told me that he could fit this same amount in his own chain locker.
After I had fed almost all of the 200 feet of nylon rode into the chain locker, I joined the eye splice to the chain with the second Crosby brand High Test shackle. Just as I had done with the other shackle, I greased the pin, and I secured it in place with a plastic wire tie.
After I had completed these tasks, I fed most of the 30 feet of chain into the locker.
Inside the boat, I had temporarily installed the chain locker panel to ensure that the nylon rode and the chain would not spill out of the locker into the V-berth. Fortunately, everything fit together well. Now I needed to install this panel permanently. That is the subject of my next posting.
This ends this posting on how I installed the anchor and the rode on Oystercatcher, my Ericson 25.