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Anchoring Accessories: Anchors, Chains, Cables, Rollers
Once you’ve found that secluded inlet you’ve been looking for, dropping the anchor will help hold your boat in place. The anchor rode (line, line and chain, or chain) connects the anchor to the boat. Small boats use a long piece of nylon line for the anchor rode, while intermediate-size boats frequently combine several feet of nylon line fastened to the boat, with a short length of chain between the end of the nylon line and the anchor. Large boats often use chain for the entire length of the anchor rode.
If you tie your anchor to a piece of line and drop the anchor overboard, the anchor will fall to the bottom of the lake. Whether the anchor holds or not depends on the style of the anchor and the characteristics of the lake bottom. In a situation like this, the anchor is likely to remain standing straight up, doing little to grab the bottom’s surface.
Attach a 3’ piece of chain to the line and fasten the chain to the anchor. Now, when you lower the anchor, the heavy chain will make the anchor lay flat on the bottom, and dig into the bottom each time your boat tugs on the anchor line. The chain also prevents the anchor rode from rubbing on sharp rocks and submerged objects.
This line/chain setup is an acceptable compromise between the light weight of the line versus the additional weight of the chain.
Larger vessels frequently use an all-chain anchor rode, because chain is much stronger than nylon line, and less likely to fail when the heavy boat pulls on the anchor rode. The extra weight of an all-chain rode is of little concern to these big boats.
What Kind of Chain
Any chain you use in your anchor rode setup needs to be made of high-quality materials (specifically for marine use) and the chain must be galvanized (protected with a zinc coating) to prevent the chain from rusting and eventually failing.
The short length of chain between the line and the anchor should have a heavy vinyl coating on it to keep from gouging and scratching your boat when you raise and lower the anchor.
An anchor roller is usually a formed stainless steel bracket with a rubber-like roller at the very end. The anchor roller protrudes beyond the front of your boat a bit, so when you pull the anchor line over the roller, the anchor rises straight up out of the water, and is less likely to damage your boat.
In addition, having an anchor roller allows you to stand upright on the deck to pull the anchor in, rather than having to get down on your hands and knees, leaning over the side of the boat, to wrestle the anchor to the surface.
Many anchor rollers incorporate a bracket to hold the anchor firmly in place at the end of the anchor roller assembly, saving you the trouble of stowing a wet, muddy anchor in a locker on your boat.