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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 the Birds and my friend Dale the Welder article. That was not 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 worth copying.

This is Ken's boat Sparrow

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 the engine in 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 dropping.

I had a locker built into the port corner of Seaweed's cockpit for my Stop Anchor.
It matches the locker on the starboard side. Now I have seating for two back there.

Skipper stands on the starboard cockpit locker.

Because I 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 routine maintenance.

The THIMBLE for my Stop Anchor was rusted plus the chain is a mess. Both thimble and chain are now in the
garbage. 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. Rope allows for an elasticity.

*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. Three-strand 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.

When I anchor with my all chain rode, I use a rope snubber to cushion the jerks.

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 always look.

You never know what you'll find at a flea market or thrift store.

A night heron waits for me to return from one of my shopping expeditions:

That's it 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.

Chain: 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.

Thimble: 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.

My mistake 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 things 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 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.


2018, 2023

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