Monday, September 19, 2011

Marking Chain

Knowing how much rode you have out is essential to proper anchoring. When I had an all-fiber rode I would measure it as deployed, counting the fathoms by arm span. I could time the windlass (about 6 feet per second) but I always loose count. My windlass doesn't like anything attached to the chain, so paint was the most obvious choice. But how to mark 100 feet of chain on-deck without making a mess?
  • Flake out the chain in even loops. In this case, 10-foot lengths fit across the tramp.
  • Pick marking points and temporarily mark with tape. I chose 25, 50, 75, and 100 feet.
  • Collect a box from the dumpster, notch it as needed, and paint away. Plain-old Rustoleum or anything similar will hold-up for years; it chips going through the windlass but remains visible.
  • Just leave the box on-deck until your next visit, to make sure it's dry. No rush.
Easy and fast. Neat too--I painted the chain on the deck in a light breeze with no real risk of over-spray mess.

My 100-foot mark is long because I like to keep the splice off the windlass. It passes fine, but the windlass doesn't grip rope well, so hand tensioning is required.

PS. Not my original idea. I saw it posted somewhere, tried it this past weekend, and deemed it worth sharing. Good boat keeping common sense tip.


  1. Any special kind of Paint?

  2. No, just ordinary Rustoleum (or in this case Best Deal Hardware's version). I've done this before--the paint chips going through the gypsy but remains quite visible for many years. I don't think epoxy paint would bring any worthwhile advantage.

    (posted edited to add this info)