Cruising is a strange word when applied to living aboard a sailboat. From my limited experience, most of the time (especially with kids) is spent in the same place. Perhaps a better name would be “anchoring”.
If you are using a chain rode, a critical part of a successful anchoring is to use a snubber. This is some kind of line that stretches that can take brief shock loads as your boat twists around at anchor. A couple of interesting articles in Practical Sailor gave some insight into the shock loads that a snubber system must absorb. Most
cruisers anchor-ers opt for three strand nylon as a snubber. It’s affordable and effective.
But how to attach it.
Most people, as we have, opt for a simple chain hook. The sort we use here in Vermont to help you pull your car out of a ditch. The trouble with this approach is that the hook tends to fall off the chain alot. If it’s under tension, it’s ok, but when trying to get it on as you the or bow roller, the bugger keeps popping off.
Since I came across it when researching anchors. I have been coveting the Mantus Chain Hook. A simple design, it seemed to solve all the problems of falling off, yet still be easy to take off during setting and retrieval. We were fortunate enough to get our hands on one for testing at the end of this last sailing season.
We were provided with the full bridle version. This has the Mantus Chain Hook, and two 25′ lengths of three strand nylon to serve as a bridle. Once you have the hook in your hands, the immediate response is “bloody hell it’s big!” It’s much larger than a simple chain hook, mainly, I suspect, because of the clever channel in it to hold the chain. I did have some worries about whether it would be hard to hook on, or interfere with our roller, but it was no easier or harder than our regular hook. Any amount of deliberate thrashing around of the chain couldn’t make it fall off.
I was also impressed by the bridle that is provided with the chain hook. I have found a bridle that uses two ropes essential in reducing the swing while at anchor. The triangle that is formed by cleating off to points 2-3′ apart at the bow naturally causes swinging to pull on one side or the other providing a turning moment that straightens the boat up. The thought that in a strong direct wind you have double the security and strength is a welcome one.
The bottom line so far is that the Mantus Chain Hook as been a great solution to the typical problems of a simpler chain hook. Simple, easy to use and effective. I would heartily recommend one.
Recently Practical Sailor (those guys get everywhere, including my inbox 10 times a week) reviewed the Mantus Chain Hook and found one issue with it falling off when anchored in shallow water on a multihull. In my use, I did not find this to be the case. In shallow water, I use a snubber that is shorter than the depth, so I am not sure how theirs could be touching the bottom. Seems they let too much bridle out.