Skip to main content

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:
  • Updated:
    Original:

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

Background-02

Notice to Mariners: A Blog from the SAIL Editors

As a teenager, I stumbled across a copy of Derek Lundy’s Godforsaken Sea in the back room of a used bookshop. I had never heard of the Vendée Globe and frankly found all the boat-speak in the first 50 pages a little difficult to get through. But Lundy’s storytelling and the draw ...read more

Screen-Shot-2022-01-13-at-9.26.59-AM2048x

VIDEO: Celestial Navigation Episode 2

Celestial navigation is an invaluable tool for all kinds of sailors. In episode two of the celestial navigation series, learn the basic elements of navigation and the sight reduction process using declination and GHA to determine the Geographic Position and navigate using a ...read more

Film-poster

Cruising: Year of the Sea Shanty

Along with other timeless pursuits, like baking sourdough and gardening, singing sea shanties surged back into popularity during the recent lockdown, thanks, in part, to the app TikTok and its “duet” feature, which allows singers from around the world create music together. By ...read more

Book-Cover-9780712353700

Book Review: Sailor Song

Sailor Song is the ultimate guide to the music of working sailors during the 18th and 19th centuries. The book includes lyrics and sheet music for 50 of the most beloved sea songs with fascinating historical background on the adjoining page. Chapter introductions provide ...read more

Screen Shot 2022-01-12 at 10.42.33 AM

Race Update: RORC Transat

With the fleet leaders about halfway to Grenada, the 2022 RORC Transatlantic is shaking out to be a tactically interesting one. The race, now in its 8th edition, began on Saturday with 30 teams ranging from 70-foot catamarans to a 28-foot JPK 1010. Early in the race, light winds ...read more

01-LEAD-IMG_1585

Experience: Fire Down Below

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, local racing had resumed with household crews only. My wife, though, while always up for a pleasure sail, was not up for this kind of thing, so, for the fifth time in what was any measure an unusual sailing season, I found myself singlehanding my ...read more

BestBoats2022-logo

Best Boats 2022

In case you hadn’t heard, the fall 2021 boat show season was one for the record books. If there was ever any doubt the sailing public still enjoys making its way to Newport, Rhode Island, or Annapolis, Maryland, to see the latest in boat design, those doubts were put to rest ...read more

01-LEAD-Dominique-David-2048x

Mulithull Show Coming to La Grande-Motte

After a year without boat shows, 2021 proved to be a blockbuster summer and fall for events around the globe, and the International Mulithull Show is looking to continue that trend in 2022. First held in 2010, the show, which takes place in La Grand-Motte, France, on the shores ...read more