Like most long-range cruisers I carry a lot of anchor chain, but I was having a problem with pyramids in my chain locker. When weighing anchor my chain piled up beneath its deck pipe, sometimes reaching up high enough to block it, so that the chain being fed in would suddenly jam the windlass gypsy. This locked the windlass so solidly it could not turn in either direction, often just as my anchor was breaking free from the bottom. With my boat thus adrift, I had to scramble to unlock the blockage, which usually entailed removing the windlass deck pipe cover with a pair of Allen wrenches.
To prevent this, I first cut a small access hole in the deck just abaft the windlass and installed a deck-fill fitting with a cap. This allowed me to ram a wood dowel in there to knock down the chain pyramid while weighing anchor. After breaking several sticks, I devised the perfect anti-pyramid rod instead. A local machine shop wanted $100 to fabricate a stainless steel rod, so instead I did some scrounging and found a perfect rod in a scrap pile outside a rigging shop—a 5ft 6in x 5/8in thick-walled galvanized pipe. The friendly shop-owner wouldn’t take any money for it.
I tapped and threaded the inside diameter of the pipe to accept a case-hardened bolt I had laying around in a spares can. I also found a heavy galvanized washer that just fit through my access hole at the windlass. I bolted the washer to the rod end to serve as a little claw to help push, rake and swipe the chain pile forward, aft and sideways to spread it more evenly around the locker. This simple device has been a godsend, enabling me to weigh anchor quickly and confidently every time.