Date: 13 August 2018. Routine
Maintenance and the Thimble.
It all started out innocently
enough. One of my birds, specifically Bruce the night heron, roosted
on the dinghy davit. He left me a mess to clean up as described in
Birds and my friend Dale the Welder
article. That wasn't the bad part though.
It was realizing I had failed to perform routine maintenance in the
cockpit. I am thankful as this could have been a Very Big Problem. I
missed a critical component related to safety aboard Seaweed.
I am fortunate to have discovered the
problem before it endangered my home.
My friend Ken
↓ owns Sparrow, a 40' Rhodes
Bounty. Skipper loves him.
You see, like all good boaters
having a way to halt the vessel in an emergency is important to
me. Some boats chose to have twin anchors on the bow. That is
one way to stop a boat. A friend had a better plan. Ken
on Sparrow kept his stop anchor aft. That seemed like an idea
This is Ken's
A Stop Anchor serves an important role aboard a vessel. Should I
have an engine failure being able to immediately hold the boat in
place is vital. All I need do is drop the anchor overboard.
The chain and rope will feed out automatically. The end of the rope
is always secured to a cleat on the boat when I am underway. When
the anchor catches and the rode is fully extended my boat will stop.
Years ago I had
a situation where bad fuel caused Seaweed to quit. I was heading
down current and toward the bank of a river. Because I had an anchor
in the cockpit I was able to halt the boat before she slammed into
the shore. That would have been particularly ugly as the tide was
I had a locker built into the port corner of
Seaweed's cockpit for my
It matches the locker on the starboard side. Now I have seating for
two back there.
Skipper stands on the starboard cockpit locker.
had the hose out to clean off the night heron deposits (see the
Birds and my friend Dale the Welder
article) I decided to hose out the entire cockpit. That meant
emptying out the lockers back there.
That is when I discovered a Very Big Deal. I had failed to perform
The THIMBLE for my Stop
Anchor was rusted
plus the chain is a mess. Both thimble and chain are now in the
I cut off the thimble using an X-acto knife Ken had given me years
and years ago. Thanks again Ken.
You see, I stashed the anchor into the locker and ignored it. Worse
yet, I had the line in a basket and the chain separate in a
container that captured water. The water rusted an already
not-so-great piece of old chain.
Now this was Totally my fault. When I bought Seaweed she had 16' of
plastic coated chain on the bow along with an 11 pound Danforth
knock-off. To be fair the boat was not anchoring out for months on
end so good ground tackle was not crucial.
That chain was iffy at best ten years
ago. I was going
to save a buck though. I wanted to get my money's worth out of it.
Honestly, sometimes I wonder what on earth I was thinking. This
anchor could be Critical for stopping my boat.
Instead of treating the chain and rode between
the anchor and the boat properly I cheap'ed out.
I am relieved to have discovered the problem before my home was in
danger. That is the good part. Routine maintenance would have caught
this issue, had I only checked earlier.
Next I need to buy a new thimble then splice it into the line. I
want to add some G4 chain too. This anchors' function is to stop the
boat. I will use a chain and rope rode.
for an elasticity.
When you use all chain the motion is much sharper. The boat tends to
jerk when it reaches the end of the chain. Rope stretches, therefore
it is better at absorbing shocks.
rope has elasticity because it is stretchy.
With a Stop
Anchor the goal is to stop the boat. I do not want to put undue
stress on my cleats, thus the rope will better serve me.
anchor with my all chain rode, I use a rope snubber to cushion the
Sometimes a gal just needs her coffee. Thimble
discovery day was soothed by a fresh cup of coffee.
So that is my tale of woe. At present I do not have a dedicated Stop
Anchor. That will be resolved shortly. This time I will pick a
thimble that will not rust. It would be great to come across a bit
of stainless chain too. That stuff is priced like gold but a gal can
know what you'll find at a flea market or thrift store.
heron waits for me to return from one of my shopping expeditions:
from Seaweed for now. Thanks for
reading, and happy boating.
Addendum: Although some
boaters have said my thimble and chain would have been prime for
repair, let me explain why I did not chip off the rust, spray
and attempt to re-use what I had.
The chain is plastic coated. I have a basic distrust of what I
cannot see. When inspected at least four links were damaged
beyond what I considered safe. To remove those links from a
16' chain I felt to be an exercise in foolish frugality.
Even chipping away at the rust would not have helped. When the
line was off I could bend that metal. The photo does not
clearly show the level of damage.
was not inspecting regularly
the Stop Anchor system aboard Seaweed.
Because of damage seen on
the links and the thimble I chose to err on the side of safety.
The thimble will be replaced ASAP with a stainless one. The
chain may take a bit longer as I would prefer to replace with a
short length of stainless chain. Three feet or so would be
sufficient though zero is required. I can go from anchor to
shackle to thimble/rope.
What will take longest is
getting the splice right. I am out of practice.
Regarding Visible Damage:
When I bought Seaweed one of the first items I did was replace
every hose and belt on the engine. I knew one hose was bad. What
was not seen was worse. Two more hoses were damaged to the point
of imminent failure. The ones that were okay and became a part
of my spare parts inventory.
Do you have a Stop Anchor?
And, where is yours deployed? A friend keeps his on the aft rail with the
line fed forward to his bow.
Birds and my friend Dale the Welder ~
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