The Purpose of Anchor Chain

The anchor chain serves a crucial role in anchoring systems, providing several essential functions to ensure the stability and security of a vessel. Here are the primary purposes of the anchor chain:

  1. Weight and Stability:
    • The anchor chain adds weight to the anchoring system, helping the anchor to maintain its position on the seabed. The chain's weight contributes to the overall stability of the anchor, preventing it from dragging or shifting easily in response to wind, waves, or currents.  This is the reason Boat Hardware recommends Short Link chain for anchoring.  The short link chain has more links per metre and therefore is heavier and assists with keeping the anchor pulling at a lower angle (ie. closer to the sea bed) which allows the anchor to grip better.
  2. Horizontal Force Transmission:
    • When the anchor is set, the anchor chain transmits horizontal force from the boat to the anchor. This force helps the anchor to dig into the seabed, improving its holding power. The chain acts as a link between the boat and the anchor, ensuring that the anchor is properly set and can resist lateral movement.
  3. Scope Adjustment:
    • The length of anchor chain deployed determines the scope, which is the ratio of the length of the anchor rode (combination of chain and rope) to the water depth. A proper scope is essential for effective anchoring. The chain allows for easy adjustment of the scope, ensuring that the anchor is at the correct angle to the seabed for optimal holding capacity.
  4. Shock Absorption:
    • The anchor chain also serves as a shock absorber. In rough weather conditions, waves and wind can exert significant forces on the boat. The weight and elasticity of the chain help absorb these shocks, preventing sudden jolts and reducing the stress on the anchor, anchor rode, and boat.
  5. Preventing Chafing:
    • The anchor chain acts as a protective barrier against chafing. Chafing occurs when the anchor rode rubs against rocks, coral, or other underwater structures. The chain, being more durable than rope, helps prevent abrasion, prolonging the life of the entire anchoring system.
  6. Vertical Force Transmission:
    • While the anchor primarily resists horizontal movement, the anchor chain also aids in transmitting vertical forces. This is crucial in holding the anchor against the seabed, especially in challenging conditions where the anchor needs to maintain a secure grip.
  7. Ease of Retrieval:
    • When it's time to retrieve the anchor, the chain's weight helps to keep the anchor's flukes (the pointed parts that dig into the seabed) down as the boat moves forward. This positioning facilitates easier retrieval by preventing the anchor from getting stuck or lodged in the seabed.
  8. Rust Prevention:
    • Many anchor chains are made of galvanized steel, which is coated with zinc to resist corrosion. This galvanization helps protect the chain from rusting due to exposure to saltwater, ensuring the chain's durability and longevity.

In summary, the anchor chain plays a multifaceted role in anchoring systems, offering weight, stability, force transmission, shock absorption, chafing resistance, and aiding in both setting and retrieving the anchor. Its proper use is integral to the effectiveness and safety of a boat's anchoring setup.