Did you know that you have a choice of three types of marine sailboat anchor chain? But unless you know what look for, you may end up paying for poor quality chain that becomes a weak link in your ground tackle system. Use these tips to give you the edge so that you can make the best choice every time.
All boats need to have some chain attached to their anchor rode. If you use a combination of rope and chain, attach a piece of chain equal to your boat's waterline (or longer) to the boat anchor. Next, join the bitter end of the chain to the rope rode. The weight of the chain will help prevent the anchor from dragging. And, it protects the rope part of the rode from the sharp edges of rock, coral, or oyster shell bottoms.
Walk into any marine hardware store and you will often have several types of chain to choose from. Use these descriptions to help you identify the types of chain and decide what's best for you.
1. BBB chain
Serious small cruising boat sailors love BBB, and for good reason. It has the shortest link length of any other type of marine chain. This gives you the dual advantage of less chance of fouling (knotting up or twisting) and it marries to just about any brand of marine anchor windlass like a well-fit glove. Although made of low-carbon steel, BBB gives you ample warning when it's about to fail; it deforms first before it snaps. This single safety factor pushes it to the top over all other types of marine anchor chain.
2. High Test
High test comes in a close second on the list. Unlike BBB or proof coil (see below), high test is made with high carbon steel. This makes it stronger but also more brittle than BBB chain. Under super high loads, high test will snap like a pole bean without any warning. This could leave you high and dry if you dragged anchor and went aground. If you decide to go with high test, you might want to purchase one size larger chain size for peace-of-mind.
3. Proof Coil
Stay away from lower grade proof-coil. It's easy to spot because it has the longest links of any other type of marine chain. Made from low-carbon steel, proof coil should not be used for most marine applications unless no other choices are available. Under high loads, proof-coil will snap without deforming first.
Build your sailboat anchor ground tackle system with the best marine anchor chain that money can buy. You will sleep better at night knowing that you have a powerhouse anchor rode that will take care of you and your sailing crew in any type of marine weather.
Captain John Jamieson shows small boat cruising skippers just what they need to make their cruising dreams come true. Get his popular free report "Ten Top Safety Check for Cruising Boat Skippers" at