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The well-grounded anchor well

Between the several dozen other, in-boat jobs I have to accomplish this winter, I also want to have the anchor well modified over the winter.

Some of you probably read that as "well-modified". Well, no. No anchors will be modified in what I have planned. The chain to which the anchors are attached, however, known in this instance as the "rode", will sink to new depths down the anchor well.

Side view with proposed angled plate instead of well floor
The existing well (yes, it's really called that) is three-sided and flat, or rather slightly cambered forward for drainage at the stem). The purpose of having a triangular pit instead of the customary lidded anchor locker plus hawse pipe leading down into a chain locker in the forepeak (or down into the bilges themselves) is twofold. The well allows working on the ground tackle (anchors, swivels, chain and nylon rodes, snubbers, bridles, chain hooks and cleats) and the foresails from a position lower and more protected than that of standing directly on deck. Bluntly, it should be harder to get washed off here, but of course we're all wearing our tethers secured to the jacklines at all times, right?

The other reason is that it is the pit that collects the chain, and not some dank, dark locker forward of the V-berth. This means that the most forward part of the deck doesn't require a hawse pipe in it. The hawse pipe, which routes the deployed or retrieved rode from the chain locker inside the boat to the outside, is a clever way to keep kinks from happening and to keep most of the water out. You can even cap them when not in use. But "most" isn't "all" and the ideal on a steel boat is to keep it as dry as possible.

Another ideal is to always have your anchors and related gear "at the ready", not all down below disassembled so as to keep the weight far back. While this is a real concern on boats lightly built, plumb-bowed or generally of a racing contenance, given the buoyancy of our bow, and its massive construction, there is no compelling reason to cut a hole there just to get the chain lower and/or inside the boat. The second chain, sure. But that's another story.

There is, however, quite a bit of logic in getting more volume into that anchor well, primarily to store flaked chain rode in an orderly fashion, and also to ensure that the chain brought aboard by the windlass pictured above doesn't pile up directly under itself.

Top view: Shall I fab up a fibreglass lid? Some think so.
So I'm going to ask Greg the welder, who did such a nice job on the solar panel arch, to see if he can build a well with multiple angles as seen above that will "slope" the chain forward and lower. I will not change the existing drain hole, but I will include a small hand pump to slurp out the majority of damp I bring aboard, and a small pet cock will be installed so that I can drain water from the bottom, much like a marine fuel filter does. Lastly, I will probably install a fibreglass "lid with a hood" that covers the entire well and protects the windlass from the sea (the windlass will also have the typical fabric cover). Here's a picture of the windlasses accessories and other bits and pieces. In a later entry, I'll describe how I intend to power the thing.

I hope all this will give me the ability to carry more chain on deck (but lower, which is better for stability and pitching) and will allow me to flake it without kinks, and without putting in an intrinsically leaky hawse pipe.

Lastly, here's a very interesting, informative and alas, unhappily ended tale of anchoring in bad conditions that made me think. It's from, so consider yourself warned about the salty language: