Get Your Ground Tackle Ready

Posted: April 1, 2013

By: Deane Hislop

I can’t overstress the importance of good ground tackle and its maintenance. On Easy Goin’, we inspect the ground tackle annually as a part of our spring commissioning.

We begin by hauling the entire rode, anchor, chain and rope onto the dock, leaving the bitter end attached. We wash everything, including the inside of the chain locker, with a mild boat-soap-and-water solution, followed by a rinse. It’s important not to use a power washer, as it can drive dirt into the inner core of the rope rode, where it can eventually damage it.

Once everything is clean, check the anchor and rode for damage. A bent fluke or shank can weaken the anchor and make it more difficult to set and hold. The anchor should be replaced if the shank is bent to a point where the anchor doesn’t track correctly when dragged over the bottom.

Inspect the shackle attaching the chain to the anchor. The pin should unscrew easily. Ensure the shackle moves freely and is not heavily rusted, deformed or severely worn. The clevis pin needs to be secured with stainless locking wire to prevent it from unscrewing.

Next, inspect the rode for deterioration and damage. Heavy rust and deformed links weaken chain. Examine each link for rust, inter-link wear, gouges, nicks, bending and cracking. The chain should be replaced if the links are worn or elongated — elongation is typically the result of the chain being subjected to stress greater than the rated breaking strength. The links should move easily against each other. If they bind, it’s time to replace the chain. Excessive wear will also cause the chain not to fit properly into the windlass gypsy.

Badly chafed nylon line has only a fraction of its original strength. Rope that has been exposed to the sun for long periods of time or is heavily discolored may be weakened by ultraviolet rays or chemical contamination.

Examine thimbles to see that they are tight within the eye they form in the line and are not deteriorated or deformed. A loose or damaged thimble may slip out of the eye, resulting in severe strain and abrasion of the line. Check the splice at the thimble, to ensure the splice has not slipped or unraveled.

This is an excellent time to service the windlass according to the manufacturer’s instructions and locate the emergency manual handle.

Make sure rollers, chocks, deck cleats and bitts are securely fastened. Lubricate rollers and replace ones that are cracked or deformed. Check the chain grabber, chafing gear or whatever else you use to secure the stowed anchor. Inspect the anchor bridle and/or trip line if you use one.

With the anchor and rode laid out on the dock, mark or remark it as required.

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