If you’re using an all chain rode, think of a nylon snubber as insurance for your windlass! A windlass was not designed to be a cleat to hold anchor chain! In anchorages all around south Florida as well as the western Caribbean, we are continually amazed at how many boats utilize a snubber ineffectively – by not using it correctly, they don’t get any benefit from the “stretchability” of the nylon rode, which is the entire rationale for using it to begin with! We’re not experts by a LONG shot, but we were lucky enough to have an “old salt” show us how to use a snubber effectively early on in our cruising adventures.
FYI: SAIL Magazine published an edited version of my original “Insurance for your Windlass” article as a “Snub the Load” tips article in the January 2012 issue!
If you’re using an all chain rode, think of a nylon snubber as insurance for your windlass! A windlass was not designed to be a cleat to hold anchor chain!
By using a snubber, you’ll prevent transferring the shock load from the chain to the boat and also lessen the potential for the anchor chain jerking directly on the anchor as it lifts off the bottom. Here are some tips for effective use of a snubber:
- Use a three strand nylon rode for maximum stretch – more stretch absorbs more motion.
- Use two separate lines attached to the chain hook, effectively making a bridle. Cleat one side off on each side of the bow. Using a bridle style double line snubber acts as insurance in case one side chafes.
The correct length for each side of the snubber line will vary depending on your boat’s windage and the height of the bow off the water. The windier it is, the more snubber line you’ll need. We use a rule of thumb attaching to the chain about a foot under the water’s edge. Obviously, if it’s blowing, the snubber will be much longer because the chain will be stretched tauter than if there’s no wind and the chain’s hanging straight down. Using this rule of thumb, with our Passport 37 bow about 4-5 feet above the water, we need 3 feet from the cleat through the chock, another 5 feet to the water plus a foot … or an absolute minimum of 10 feet and when it’s windy the necessary length can easily be 20 feet on each side.
- Attach the rode to the chain any way you prefer, some prefer using a chain stopper (u shaped stainless plate), a rolling hitch or chain hook.
- When deploying the snubber, avoid the attachment falling off the chain by keeping tension on the attachment point as you let out more chain. Once it’s taut be sure to let out more chain. The chain should be sagging below the attachment point.
- The attachment stays attached to the chain when there’s no wind by the extra weight of the loop of sagging chain. If you don’t have sagging chain, then you really haven’t transferred the shock load to the snubber line. Let out more chain.
- If there’s the potential for chafe where the snubber line exits the boat, add chafe protection.
One final tip, when anchoring, hooking the snubber up prior to backing down lets the anchor rest for a brief period and also protects the windlass while you test to see if the anchor is going to hold.
Do you use your snubber differently? Leave a comment and let us know! Cheers! Jan