installing a new anchor chain

Old Rusty & Jumping The Gypsy – Replacing Our Anchor Chain

We moved aboard a sailboat because we wanted to travel and live around the world. We thrive on the freedom to move, so we spend most of our nights at anchor.

If we want to sleep like babies, and not lie awake twitching like nervous nellies, we must trust our anchoring set up. Lately, our trust has been wavering.

Jason will explain why in the video but the short story is:  we thought the issue was the windlass. Turns out our anchor chain might be the culprit. Time to bust out a few boat bucks, a pair of gloves and some elbow grease.

Not too bad, right?!? Replacing our anchor rode was afternoon tea compared to the electrical issues we had. Forking over the cash wasn’t easy. But, we would rather spend a bit more money on better anchor chain than save a few bucks and risk our boat, or our lives.

So, you might be curious…how exactly did we go about selecting new chain? First, we took a look at our current set up.

Curiosity Ground Tackle

  • Lofrans Tigres Windlass with Gypsy made for 3/8 HT chain
  • Mantus 65# stainless steel anchor (best upgrade ever!)
  • Mantus Swivel with integrated low-profile Shackle
  • Anchor Mate (Helps seat our anchor and keep it secure underway.)
  • Bridal and Mantus Chain Hook – Still using the factory bridal line but we upgraded the galvanized basic chain hook with the Mantus Hook.  Our old bridal hook fell off the chain 9 times out of 10, our Mantus has never fallen off (mic drop).
  • Old Rusty Chain – Our chain has been a rusty mess since we bought the boat. We don’t have a clue about what type of chain it is. We do know its current size is slightly less than 3/8 according to the caliper.  Spliced into the end of the chain is 200ft of anchor line.  At the bitter end of the anchor line is a shackle with a thin 1/4″ line attached to the boat. This thin line is easy to cut. It’s a failsafe for the unexpected emergency situation where we need to ditch our anchor fast.
  • We also have a spare Fortress anchor with 50ft of chain and 200ft of anchor line. The spare anchor also has the same thin “emergency” line attached to the boat.


rusting anchor chain and jumping the gypsy

inspecting and installing new ground tackle

Anchor Chain Choices

I’m not going to downplay it.  Going through all the chain details and research made my head spin.  I could easily write a thesis with all the info swirling around in my brain.  All things considered, it’s not a clear cut choice and certainly not a one-size-fits-all kind of thing.  The boat, cruising style, bottoms and locations all play into the equation.  Here are my two cents on the different types of chains available.

  • Definitely Not – G3 (grade 30 proof coil) chain. The lowest grade steel for anchor chain. It’s prone to rust, incredibly heavy and not designed to work on a windlass.  In other words, not meant for our boat.
  • OK, But Not The Best – BBB or B3 chain. Still heavy but has small, short links that help it grip the anchor windlass drum. It used to be the most popular type of chain until G4 came out.  West Marine doesn’t even sell a large enough chain size for our boat.  Which tells me, it’s not popular for boats our size.
  • Excellent – Grade 43, G4 or HT (High Test). It’s a high-carbon steel, has twice the working load of BBB, works well with a windlass and weighs much less than BBB chain.
  • Fancy New Tech – Grade 70, G7 or Transport Chain. It’s 20% stronger than G4 which makes it the strongest, weight for weight, of all anchor chains. Its exceptional hardness resists wear but its not compatible with many gypsies nor are there many compatible swivels and such.  Plus, there are some skeptics about the re-galvanizing process used to make this chain. I’m indifferent because I’m no expert.  On paper, it looks very promising.

Our Chain Choice

Looking at all the specs, the clear choices were G4 and G7.  We’re in Panama and at the mercy of what we can find and afford here.  Plus, the idea of adding custom accessories wasn’t something we wanted to tackle.  For the strength, weight and price we opted for the G4 chain. It felt like solid middle ground for our cruising catamaran. It’s not the newest tech, but it’s a huge improvement over our old rusty.

Chain Type Size Maximum Working Load Breaking Strength Weight Total Weight for 250FT
BBB 1/2” 4,500 18,000 2.73LB/FT 682.5
G4 3/8” 5,400 16,200 1.49LB/FT 372.5
G7 5/16” 4,700 14,100 1.00LB/FT 250


We purchased our chain from a shop in Panama City called Centro Marino. The lady’s name is Berta Alicia Arroyo and she was insanely friendly. Originally she quoted us $5.99 over email. When we arrived to pick up the chain we had some friendly Spanglish banter and Jason joked with her in that awkward I sort-of-understand-you kinda way. She printed the bill, smiled and said, “Te di un pequeño descuento.” The final price for our chain was $5.35 per foot plus 7% tax. We said “muchas gracias!”

Grand total for 250 feet of G4 Chain: $1431.13 USD


new anchor chain for sailboat


installing a new anchor chain


installing a new anchor chain


Another HUGE consideration we had when upgrading or chain:  We’re sailing to French Polynesia!  There are hundreds of anchorages, miles from anywhere, with major tidal ranges and notoriously deep spots to drop the hook. A solid anchoring setup is a must.  Panama City is the largest marine destination we’ll be in for a long while. It was tackle it now or pay out the wazoo later.  I can’t imagine having to purchase nearly 400 pounds of chain on some remote island in the South Pacific (spoiler alert…we ended up having to do exactly that).


installing a new anchor chain

But Wait!

Before you go ordering chain, make sure it’s compatible with the gypsy on your windlass. If not, find out if the windlass manufacturer makes one. We did this but turns out the G4 chain Centro Marino had in stock was labeled 3/8 but it was actually 10mm.  Not a huge deal, but we noticed the chain wasn’t seating as nicely as we thought it should while we were bringing up the anchor.  Luckily, it wasn’t a big deal to purchase a new gypsy because ours was 12 years old.

One last note, while we had the anchor locker empty we took the opportunity to do some serious cleaning.  We had accumulated a ton of rust flakes and bottom-of-the-ocean gunk…which has an oh-so-pleasant aroma.  We wanted to give our new chain a fresh, rust-free start (it’s a good idea to do this at least once a year anyway).

Thank YOU!

We’re able to share our research and experiences because of viewers like you. If you like what you see, or you’ve found this helpful, check out our Say Thanks page. There are lots of ways you can help keep the videos and posts flowing. You’ll notice most ways don’t cost you a penny but make a big difference to us…and for that, we thank you!

Cameras Used to Capture This Video

All Our Photo & Video Gear:

Hello there! I honestly don’t know what to say, so I am going to tell you a bunch of random facts instead. I'm a fish eating vegetarian who hates spiders and loves snakes. I almost never took vacations growing up. I wanted to be Pippi Longstocking (still do). I misspell about every other word I write and still struggle with grammar. I love splurging on a good high tea (which is really hard to find these days). And whatever you do, don’t tell me I can’t do something, because then I'll HAVE to do it!

Comments (37)

  • Russell

    Nice video.
    WHY would you spend all that money changing your bottom tackle, and NOT replace the Shackle? You cannot see chrystalisation, but it does occur.
    PLEASE purchase yourselves EACH 1 copy of “The Arts of the Sailor”, by Hervey Garrett Smith….in it is how to splice, how to parcel and serve, how to make your own ditty bags and how to repair your sails at sea…

    I was given my first copy in 1973 and have since given my children and their children copies.

    You will become more comfortable dealing with most ANY onboard emergency you’ll encounter at sea…

    Purchase the hard copies, not the online version….having the book in hand will allow you to spend hours of free time learning really sailors’ tools…

    Just a thought from one who has been around for a while.

    Fair winds and safe landfalls folks..

  • Adrian Pringle

    Please do not use swivels , anywhere on a boat , especially the anchor . They are the weak link , will easily shear and they are made of stainless steel. Not a material to trust .
    I have had two swivels shear , 1/2’’ , attaching headsails . A friend nearly list his 55ft Yacht after the swivel sheared . Use two oversize galvanised shackles, such as from Crosby .

  • Never mentioned the manufacturer of the chain, was it maggi, acco or lofrans made in China but certified

  • Venice Scherer

    My only complaint is that all your videos are too short….love the adventure! You are both so handy, smart and courageous! I’m always wondering about pirates~ your passports, etc. Is there any concern with criminal activity? Do you ever feel vulnerable at sea, port, or land?

  • George Moorman

    It would appear my attempt to post earlier was unsuccessful. Although I am not a boater, mechanical is mechanical. In any case I thought I would share my observations about the chain replacement.
    First. You measured the diameter of the chain link in the video and noted the loss of metal. What you may not have noticed was the greater loss at the end of each link, where they rub on each other. This changes how the chain fits the sprocket on the gypsy. You should also examine the sprocket as the chain lays in it. In the video it seems like there was wear in the sprocket also. There should be a “hand-in-glove” fit for the chain to be securely held.

  • John Rapp

    Good choices made on the ground tackle! We bought the same chain, bridle, swivel, and anchor for our monohull, s/v Mahayana. She’s on the hard in Nova Scotia and we can’t wait to get her back in the water this spring. Beautiful cruising grounds in the Canadian Maritimes and New England! Hope to see you there! Eventually!

    Fair winds!

  • Gordon

    Is your bow roller rolling? To me it looked jammed in the vid. Would hate for it to collapse and you have a bouncing anchor in heavy seas! Thanks for your vids, loving them all!

  • Alan Solomon

    Beautiful new anchor chain. May it live long and take you to many future joyous destinations.
    By the way, I tried to hit the subscribe button and it would not allow me to get the link. :(….
    Looking forward to next weekend. Happy canal sailing…

  • Patrick Burneson


  • Foster

    Completely confused on video time lines. Today’s anchor chain video you had not entered the canal.
    and yet another video had your mother and two guests on board. Another video you crew was leaving.

    • Curious Minion

      The clips from the canal crossing were on Facebook and Instagram – that’s where you saw mom & guests. Those social media posts are “in the moment” but the full video versions will always be a month or more behind because they take so long to produce. So the full canal crossing video is coming up – stay tuned!

  • Caroline

    Wow! Guess it’s always something. I noticed your chart has…Total Weight for 250LBS of chain. Reminds me of the old “what weighs more, a pound of feathers or a pound of lead”.

  • I recently watched another video where they replaced the anchor chain as well. They suggested that they chain actually lengthens over time as well since the chain links create friction between them. This causes stretching, wearing, etc. and it certainly makes sense on how the chain would move off track over time.
    Think about this: If each link wears .1mm across the 1,000 on your chain, that would increase the length by roughly 3feet.

    Another great one, thanks for educating us! Also, the people jumping on the trampoline on the 58 behind you were totally crashing the video! haha

  • Mike

    Hey you two, nice job on the new chain. As soon as I saw the chain jumping Im pretty sure I know what’s happening. Yes, the flaking of metal will definitely affect it but I think your biggest culprit here is probably tension. “The chain has stretched”. Years of being at anchor and the weight of your boat has lengthened the chain. The windlass requires each link to fit precisely in the Gypsy. When it gets longer that can no longer happen. On a much smaller scale a bicycle is the same way. When the chain stretches it no longer fits on the freewheel. Or wears the freewheel to fit the chain.
    Have a good look at the gypsy now that you have the new chain on. If the chain doesn’t nestle in tight it might have worn to fit the old chain, and you might need to replace that as well.
    Have fun and stay safe

  • Jerry

    I assume your anchor chain does not have any type of marker showing depth or phantom marker and you rely on sonar only. Not like the old Navy.

    • Curious Minion

      There’s a counter that tells how much is out.

  • Johnny lewis

    oh my god, I was just in Colon through the 8th, and if I would have know you where there I would have made a trip to Linton Bay to say hello. Love watching your travels, ever since you were on TV picking out the RV. Keep doing what you two are doing!

  • Roger B

    Wow! I can hardly wait for my next lesson on sailboat maintenance, really. Very informative.

  • Darryl

    Hey Guys…as usual we really enjoy your videos and in this case loved the two people video bombing you from the next dock! Keep up the great work!

  • Steve C

    Yes, the price is certainly a factor. However, a stainless steel chain will last forever, regular steel won’t and would need to be replaced constantly, unless you use molasses and olive oil of course. lol

    Then there is the question of engineering: The weight and size of the boat, the height of the swales, the condition of the sea (weather), depth of the anchorage, rock or sand bottom, all enter into the calculations of just how strong the chain should be. You can really get into the weeds when making assumptions. It’s like engineering for an earthquake, how “safe” do you want to be? 7.2 or 8.4 or? How much does that safety cost? We used to say that engineers would calculate to the gnats ass, then multiply by 2.

    Going to a 1/2″ chain would require a new “Gypsy”. Would a new larger Gypsy fit in the existing winch? How much would that cost? Remember, a boat is a void in the water in which you pour money. The question is always: how much is enough, (money or safety)? It’s always a balancing act, walking the fence. Is there a song for that?

  • Lisa L

    Really enjoy your videos & this one really was interesting. My husband was watching & commented that he bet that chain cost a fortune (I had on earbuds so he couldn’t hear it). LOL Loving your adventure.

  • Scott I.

    Finally we get an itinerary preview! Switching from hablas Espanol to parlez-vous Francais? Wondering how often we will have Wynnless weeks as you get out midocean. I’ll be on the edge of my seat.

    Normally I am not tempted to mention grammar, and you really are quite good anyway. But I can’t resist this opportunity:
    Bridle is how you restrain a horse or sailboat.
    Bridal is an adjective referring to the partnership with the old ball and chain.

    Fair winds, Wynns!

    • Scott I.

      PS I looked up the location of French Polynesia, and when Google Earth centered it, the planet is a ball of water with barely a fringe of land on the edges!

  • Steve C

    Hey guys, love watching your videos on a Sunday morning with my cup of coffee! It gets my travelling juices going for the week. Just purchased my flight tickets to the Philippines & Taiwan last night for a 3-month vagabond journey, but that’s another story. I’m sure the island of Palawan will be in your future. (Google it!)

    As I spent my whole life in engineering construction, familiar with water and wastewater treatment plants that require either aluminium or stainless steel for ALL metal parts, I found it interesting that you never mentioned “stainless steel” once in your video. I would suspect that your chain should have been stainless steel. As it was rusting, it clearly wasn’t. I hope your new chain is.

    Also, the mystery of why it was slipping in the “Gypsey” could be one or both of two reasons. First, all that rust flaking off the old chain made it smaller and made it easier to slip on the cog. Second, you didn’t mention if the old chain or the gypsey were sized in metric or SAE sizes. That also could have been the reason as they may not have been compatible.

    All this is, of course, “water under the bridge” (or boat as the case may be) lol. It’s now all a done deal as you now have a nice new shiny chain and ready to go. Although you may not have specifically mentioned these points, and you are actually already aware of them, I just thought I’d throw in my two cents worth. Corrosion and the salt in the sea are brothers in arms and as always, the devil’s in the details.

    I’m still hoping to meet up with you guys somewhere, sometime in the future. Keep make’n that wake and your great videos.

    • Scott I.

      Hard to tell what old chain was because it rusted so badly.

      No need to tell you this as an engineer, but I notice that for the same strength in 304 or 316 stainless, they would need to step up to 1/2” chain and pay 2.5 to 3 times as much.

  • Ernest jandrisovics

    Hi, Old chain still ok. Keep the old chain. resell. Clean the chain with molasses or vinegar citric acid. you get the idea. after cleaning chain. use oil in the storage bay, olive oil or vegetable oil. not motor oil. salt water rusting the old chain.

  • Steve

    I enjoyed today’s video. I like seeing the details of what it takes to keep your boat shipshape.

    Oh, I liked the photobombers, too. Clever touch.

  • Billy Sargent

    Did you mark your anchor chain? 🙂

  • Bruce Claflin

    We had a Leopard 46 with tthe same problem. In our case we found that the windlass spec called for a vertical drop from the gypsy far greater than the anchor locker allowed, especially when it was piling up with chain. It was just a big design flaw in the boat. I hope that isn’t your problem!

  • Jan

    Even though I am not nor will be a sailor it is great fun learning via you 2. It is good to see how much work it is and that you guys are smart enough to figure out how to do it or pay to get it done. Makes full time rving like nothing! I appreciate boating more. Well done.

  • Gerri Lilly

    Good job! You are wise to take care of anchor chain.

  • Gee whiz Nikki, I thought you knew better than to let your husband around tools by now. He could have undone the splice instead of cutting the chain. Speaking of chain yours looks awfully light for a catamaran. I have hevier chain on my 30′ Cutter.

  • Fun video as per usual! Is windlass pronounced wind as in the wind is blowing or wind as in the long and winding road? In other words, windlass because she holds the boat in a strong wind or windlass because she winds up the chain?

  • Scott Hall

    So wondering what you did with the old chain??? Out in the boonies it could come in handy for someone who does not have the big bucks you had to spend. So next trip to USA!!!! Spend 12 dollars at Harbor Freight tools and get a small angle cutter. Space is limited on a boat but a grinder comes in handy.

  • How did you dispose of the old chain? Did the new one work?

  • mary

    Did it fix the problem? We want to make sure you two don’t float away at your next anchorage!

  • Barrett

    Nicely done guys! Loving the new bling! Totally appropriate timing on this post for us. We just went through a similar experience where half of our 300′ of chain was completely rusted. So much so that it wouldn’t run through the windlass. Instead of replacing all of the chain, we just cut off the rusty part (equally as challenging for us ;)) and will go with only 150′ feet. The rusty part was the end sitting in the anchor locker not getting used and making a total mess. So we added locker painting to the end of the chore…Fun stuff. And confession, Brooke did all of the heavy lifting on this one while I worked the windlass. so sorry Jason I can’t say “I feel your pain.” Keep up the good work guys! Cheers from us on Soulstice!


Post a Comment