Chain to Rope Splices in Your Anchor Rode.

Some information received from Capt. Tom Schmidt concerning splices in anchor rodes on our boats: 

I was speaking briefly with another member recently about the pros and cons of a chain to rope splice…Since most everyone is using this type of splice today, it is noteworthy that this splice reduces the rode strength by 50-60% and should be inspected often.  Many times inspection is not enough…a new splice should be done.


 Some supporting information from Ocean Navigator

“Until a few years ago, the grooved wildcat was seen only on Simpson-Lawrence windlasses, and the broader opinion prevailed among other manufacturers that it wasn't a suitable method to haul in on the rope part of a combination rode. Actually, the dichotomy in thought arose from the fact that the Simpson-Lawrence patent stood in the way of other manufacturers' incorporating the idea into their windlasses. Now the patent has expired, and many windlass makers are offering special grooved wildcats.

The combination wildcat requires that the rope groove have angled ridges (whelps) capable of firmly gripping the rope, similar to the self-tailing winch. In operation, the wildcat groove hauls first on the rope portion of the anchor rode until the chain portion arrives, then the wildcat's sprocket grasps the chain links and completes the weighing of the anchor. To effect a smooth operational transition between rope and chain, the rope has to be spliced directly to the chain in place of using the conventional thimble, eye splice and shackle connection. Herein lies the latent problem, because splicing rope to chain has always been a questionable practice.

Mariners should be aware that sharp bends in a rope can weaken it significantly. To get the maximum life (and reliability) out of rope, it should not be bent over radii less than several times the rope diameter. Obviously, the result of bending it over the small diameter of a chain end link is the antithesis to long life and dependability.

Nevertheless, the customer has eagerly accepted the concept because of its convenience. The grooved wildcat is certainly a smoother and safer way of retrieving a combination rode than having to transfer a bulky shackle and eye splice from warping drum to a conventional wildcat, but how reliable is the technique? Strength and longevity are the issues at hand. Strength can be measured, but longevity is a measure of time in use…”