Nothing Is Ever Easy! Replacing Snubber Rusted Shackle

Anyone else notice that on a boat, the simplest project is never easy?  Our latest example left David shaking his head — in earlier years he would have been swearing and I would have learned some new words, but lately he’s so used to it, he’s not very colorful anymore!

Our snubber thimbles rusted completely through after several years of service.   No problem, we purchased new thimbles while we were at West Marine getting parts for the head.   The snubber lines are long enough that David simply cut off the ends with the old rusted thimbles.  The plan was to redo the splice around the new thimbles and replace the old rusted shackles with new.   Simple enough right?

Identical shackles, right? The new bar fits perfectly through the old shackle… Except it does NOT fit through the snubber U plate… 🙁

But despite having an entire bag of spare shackles, we didn’t have any large enough, so David walked to West Marine again to purchase new shackles.   His first try, the shackles were a bit too large and wouldn’t fit through the holes in the existing stainless U shaped chain gripper that we use, so back to West Marine.   This time the old and new shackles were identical.   (NOTE:  If you’re looking for a U shaped stainless chain gripper like ours, we think ours was manufactured by ABI and we cannot find another one online.  West Marine carries one manufactured by Sea Dog, I haven’t seen it in person, so don’t know if it’s the same, but you might want to check it out … click here.)

What the @%$#! Why won’t the shackle screw fit through the SAME hole the old rusty one did?

EXCEPT, the new shackles screw connection would NOT fit through the existing hole.   Remember, nothing is EVER easy on a boat.  🙁   The only thing we can figure is over the years, the forces on the stainless plate have caused the holes which are EXACTLY the size of the bolt to elongate or change shape just enough that the screw threads on the new shackles would not fit through the hole.  No way, no how…

So out came the clamps and a makeshift vise to hold the stainless plate in place.  Now we had to make a trip to Home Depot for a drill bit that would drill stainless.  Guess what, they didn’t have one.  No kidding?  Why are we not surprised.  The guy told David to use some oil to help cut and use a non-stainless drill bit … he also bought a round metal file just in case.  Good thing!

Back at the boat, after drilling and filing, and drilling and filing,  more oil, more drilling and filing.



Finally he got one side and then the other … and the shackle screw threads fit through just enough to allow our snubber to be reassembled!   Finally, after WAY too long, a “simple” boat project is done!  But the good news is, it should last for another 10 years!


Others use other snubber methods, the important thing is if you’re using all chain for an anchor rode, you need a snubber to cushion the shockloads to the boat from the chain with the boat movement in the water.  Nylon stretches and works perfectly as a shock absorber, thus our anchor snubber configuration.  If you have better ideas, please leave a comment and share!   Or if you just want to share your “Nothing Is Ever Easy” story, please feel free to leave a comment as well!   🙂   Cheers — Jan


  1. Keith Davie says:

    I feel your pain! Stainless is almost always a pain to work with, but a couple tricks that might help:
    Use a tungsten or Cobalt bit. Anything cheaper will instantly dull.
    Once you start drilling, don’t stop, don’t let up on the pressure even for an instant. This is critical, because stainless heat-hardens as each cut of the bit is made. As long as you keep cutting, the cutting edge is just below this hardened area, but if you stop, the hardened area is at the surface, and your chances of cutting through it again aren’t good.
    You probably already knew that, but just in case!
    – Keith

    • Hi Keith! Actually we tried to get a different bit at Home Depot, but they didn’t have anything and since we were “out cruising” we didn’t want to wait to order something special. So we made do. David said he’d order a new tungsten bit, but then it wouldn’t be the right size for the next project, so se la vie! It’s done & it works. It just took too long & too many new words in the process! 🙂 THANKS! Jan

  2. Roger Danley says:

    I enjoy reading your stories about how you cope with the projects on a boat. We have an Allied Princess that we are prepping for an extended voyage. In the past my anchors have always been nylon rode with a length of chain at the anchor end to weight it down. With the Princess it’s all chain and so I appreciate the idea of a snubber. With all the different attachment options, wouldn’t a simple shackle be the best bet to attach the snubber to the chain? Hooks and sea dogs like you use might come loose if for some reason the line went slack or the tide changed, or is your experience that this doesn’t happen?

    • David says the problem with a shackle is getting it off if you need pull up anchor in an emergency. We’ve done a lot of anchoring and if we lose the attachment, it’s because we did something wrong. Some friends just use a couple rolling hitches. I don’t think there’s a right and wrong answer, each sailor has his own opinion. 🙂 Cheers — Jan

  3. Gregory Kirk says:

    On our our boat we had a Mk.1 whale gusher fit pump that was leaking. Easy fix, buy a new set of seals, disassemble, replace seals and good right?

    So I get under the galley sink with a screwdriver and find the it’s mounted on an angled base, remove two screws, and pull the pump. Take the pump home and start disassembling it on the dining room table. Many parts inside are cracked, and further inspection shoes a crack in the housing, likely the source of the leak.

    The mark one is long out of production, so I other a mark three, making sure to get the correct left vs right side pedal.

    Back to the boat new pump in hand. Should be quick, skip the new pump in, tighten the 4 screws and reattach the hoses. Except..

    Remember that angled base it mounts to? Well the mark three pump has two additional mounting hole molded into the top of the pump. Seems like a great idea, allowing for a more secure mounting. But in our case that additional bit of plastic makes the pump taller and because of the angled mounting bad, it hits the inside face of the cabinet and the pump can’t be secured in position.

    Timeto break out the hacksaw, and carefully trim that of the top of the pump. This will no doubt invalidate any warranty. The pleasures of old boat ownership.

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