Ask Sail: Twist and Shout

Don Glynn of Westlake Village, California, asks:"My ground tackle consists of 30ft of 5/16in galvanized chain, 270ft of 5/8 in three-strand nylon and a 22-pound Danforth anchor. Recently I discovered a 20ft hockle in the middle of the 10-year-old nylon rode and assumed that the kinks occurred after being coiled many times, and the boat circling around the anchor. I am
Author:
Publish date:

Don Glynn of Westlake Village, California, asks:

"My ground tackle consists of 30ft of 5/16in galvanized chain, 270ft of 5/8 in three-strand nylon and a 22-pound Danforth anchor. Recently I discovered a 20ft hockle in the middle of the 10-year-old nylon rode and assumed that the kinks occurred after being coiled many times, and the boat circling around the anchor. I am going to replace the line, and I'm curious whether putting a swivel between the chain and the rope might prevent future hockles. This looks good on paper, but I worry that I might be creating a vulnerable link in my ground tackle.

Everyone seems to have an opinion, with one sailor telling me that introducing a swivel could cause hockling, and another saying that three-strand line should always be coiled in a clockwise direction. But since that's what I always have done, I'd like to know what does cause hockling and what's the best way to keep it from occurring?"

Don Casey replies:

You can create a hockle when you rotate a twisted rope in the opposite direction of its lay, but the most common cause of a hockle in an anchor rode is when it is used with an anchor windlass. When line is hauled around the windlass in a counterclockwise motion, the windlass will tend to unlay the rope even as the individual strands in it are being twisted more tightly. Very often the end result is a kink, or hockle, in the rode - which is why rope manufacturers recommend that whenever you have new rope, you make clockwise turns around the windlass drum. Unfortunately, while doing so will tighten the lay, it will loosen the strands, which makes the rope stiff and, once again, subject to kinking. For this reason, if the windlass will accept it, the ideal solution is to alternate between clockwise and counter clockwise rotations when hauling.

If you haul your rode in by hand, do not coil it in a counterclockwise direction. Coiling clockwise is better even though it will tighten the lay. Pulling rope from a clockwise coil will tend to reverse the twist, but since this loosening is concentrated at the top of the loop as it closes, this can sometimes result in a hockle. The best method of stowing twisted line is to flake it in a figure 8 because that maintains the original balance of the rope's twist.

Installing a swivel is not a good idea, because twisted rope, when it is put under pressure, will want to untwist, and over time this tension will unlay the rope. Although the rope will try to return to its original balance when the load is released, if that happens suddenly, a hockle could easily appear.

Finally, unless your boat is anchored in a tidal area for long periods of time, I don't think circling the anchor will cause the rode to develop a hockle; how you coil and uncoil it is the most likely cause. Incidentally, soft-lay rope, even though it might be soft on one's hands, is far more likely to hockle than a rope that has a medium or hard lay. That's why your new rode must be made by a first-rate rope manufacturer, and be specifically recommended for use as an anchor rode. To avoid any risk of getting a hockle, select a braided rope for your anchor rode.

Related

2019BestBoatsPromo-04

Best Boats 2019

Some years ago, the book Aak to Zumbra catalogued—and celebrated—the incredible diversity of watercraft that has evolved over the centuries, a diversity that remains evident to this day in the 11 winners comprising the “Class of 2019” in SAIL’s Best Boats contest. Indeed, it ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell.Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.comGuaranteed result What you see on the end of this halyard isn’t a beautiful Flemish Eye worked by a rigger, but it will make a big difference when you have to “mouse” a line through the mast. If the ...read more

dometicadler-700x

How to: Upgrading Your Icebox

The time has come when the prospect of cold drinks and long-term food storage has you thinking about upgrading your icebox to DC-powered refrigeration. Duncan Kent has been there and done that, and has some adviceFresh food must be kept at a refrigerated temperature of 40 degrees ...read more

Jet-in-Belize

Cruising: Evolution of a Dream

There’s a time to go cruising and a time to stop. As Chris DiCroce found, you don’t always get to choose those timesAlbert Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, ...read more

01a-rosemary-anchored-at-Qooqqut,-inland-from-Nuuk

Cruising: A Passage to Greenland

When a former winner of the Whitbread Round the World Race invites you to sail the Northwest Passage, there is only one sensible answer. No.More adventurous types might disagree, but they weren’t the ones facing frostbite of the lungs or the possibility of having the yacht’s hull ...read more

Allures-459-2018

Boat Review: Allures 45.9

Allures is not a name on the tip of many American sailors’ tongues, but it should be. After the debut of its 39-footer last year, the French company has made another significant entry into the U.S. midrange market with the Allures 45.9, an aluminum-hulled cruiser-voyager with ...read more