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How to Choose Your Anchor Chain

These are the 5 basic choices that you need to make to determine the optimum anchor chain for your individual requirements.

  1. Hot Dip Galvanised or Stainless Steel
  2. Grade (strength)
  3. Chain Size and Calibration
  4. Length
  5. Chain Manufacturer

Galvanised or Stainless Steel?

Hot Dip Galvanised

Hot Dip Galvanising was first developed over 50 years ago and is still the most prevalent finish for anchors and chain for motor and sailing yachts.

Hot Dip Galvanising is not just a surface treatment. Hot Dipping in molten zinc forms a multi-layered deep-seated fusion with the steel which means that the natural abrasion caused by anchoring will only have a gradual effect.

However, all galvanising will eventually go rusty. In fact, rust stains are quite likely to appear immediately that you introduce your brand new shiny galvanised chain into a wet and salty or even potentially contaminated environment e.g. your chain locker.

More in-depth information on galvanising treatment, and what to expect from your chain is covered in these articles: How Does Galvanising Work?

If you want your anchor to look perfectly pristine on the bow roller and your chain to be spotlessly blemish free on deck or in the chain locker, then a high grade of stainless may be the best choice for you.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel calibrated anchor chain starts at G3, which is around 3 times the price of galvanised Grade 40.

Grade 6 and Grade 6+ offer supreme quality in stainless steel anchor chain, with the added option of an electro-polished finish to provide the ultimate resistance to marine degradation.

Staining can occur on stainless steel, despite the name, but this can be removed with a specialist cleaning agent – this is very simple to use and does not require any drying or polishing

Mix and Match

Galvanised and stainless steel are quite commonly joined together in your anchoring system, but you should bear in mind that there may be a galvanic reaction between the two. This is not necessarily a problem, but it is a good idea to have an understanding of what can happen over a period of time.

Further information on the effect of mixing your steels:Galvanic reaction between stainless and galvanised

What Grade of Chain do I require?

The Grade dictates the linear strength of the steel and correspondingly the break load of the chain.

Grades are comparable between mild and stainless steel, although stainless is generally expressed with a simple G as a prefix rather than Grade e.g. G3 equates to Grade 30
Galvanised chain is generally available in Grade 30, Grade 40, and Grade 70.

Jimmy Green Marine don’t stock Grade 30, opting for the higher break load Grades 40 and 70 for motor and sailing yacht anchoring.

Stainless is available from Jimmy Green in G3, and in the higher grades G6 and G6+

Jimmy Green Marine have compiled a Chain Break Load Comparison Chart for all the chains that we sell.

A general comparison between generic Grade 30 and Grade 40 is also included.

It is worth noting that cases of chain failing are extremely rare, but worth avoiding because it may well occur during severe weather.
Failure is much more likely to happen at the connection point between anchor and chain.
It is always recommended to employ a manufacturer break load rated solution and this article covers the subject in greater depth: Anchor to Chain Connection Guide

What Size and Calibration of Chain do I need?

Chain Size

This depends on the grade that you choose, your yacht length, windage, and displacement, your anticipated cruising plans, and your corresponding reliance on anchoring.
In Europe, we have metric sizing in 1mm or 2mm increments e.g. 6mm, 7mm, 8mm, 10mm, 12mm, 13mm, 14mm.
This article explains how to establish the correct chain size for your requirements, with a benchmark guide in a clear table format: Anchor Rode Size Guide

Chain Calibration

There are two main calibrations of anchor chain in Europe: DIN766 or ISO4565.

Calibrated means that every link is guaranteed to be the same length and size within a certain tolerance.

This is extremely important if you have a windlass. The chain calibration needs to be compatible with the windlass gypsy.

There is more information to read on Calibration: Calibrated Anchor Chain General Informationand important information on how to find out which calibration you need: What is the correct calibration?

How long should my Anchor Chain be?

The total length of your rode will depend on the depth of water that you anticipate encountering on your cruises.

An Anchor Rode can either be a combination of rope and chain, in varying proportions according to your needs, or all chain.

The choice ranges from these two examples:

a long warp and a short piece of chain for those who still haul in the rode by hand or for relatively light load applications e.g. a kedge anchor, especially an aluminium anchor or a ‘lunch hook’

In this case the chain may only be around 5 metres

to:

all chain for extended cruising where reliance on anchoring is paramount.

A very good case can be made for a compromise between the two, especially where weight or space in the chain locker is limited.

A short piece of warp at the bitter end of a long length of chain is another option. This provides a degree of elasticity should all the chain be required in extremis, and also a neat means of attachment in the chain locker.

Generally speaking, the lengths of chain that we are supplying for extended cruising are getting longer, a total rode length of 80 metres is now quite the norm, with 100 metres becoming increasingly popular. Recently the trend has been as long as 120 metres. 

There are traditional ‘rules of thumb’ for calculating the length of rode as a multiple factor of the sea depth, but they don’t work very well for very shallow or very deep water, they are a little outdated with the popularity of bigger yachts and ocean passage making.

The main parameters for deciding on the overall length are covered in the anchor rode size article (link above) but there are also more insights into the decision-making process in this article: Anchoring System Assessment

How do I choose between Chain Manufacturers?

Trust in the Brand

The first principle in the selection process is to purchase a recognised brand.

Provenance will be important for your peace of mind when you are relying on your anchor chain to ride out inclement weather conditions.

Calibrated anchor chain for the European Marine Industry is generally manufactured in Europe or the Far East.

Unfortunately, there are no calibrated anchor chain manufacturers in the UK, only importers or former manufacturers who now only import their chain.

There is a stigma regarding manufacturing in the Far East, but the truth is that many of the world recognised UK and European manufacturer brands in the leisure marine industry, have their products manufactured all over the world and import them from far afield. This list is not exhaustive and doesn’t relate exclusively to chain, but it is indicative of some of the countries where manufacturing costs are/have been traditionally lower than the UK/Europe: China, Thailand, India, Brazil, Turkey. However, the huge increase in transportation costs caused by the pandemic has certainly eroded any saving.

The respectability, the credibility, and the trustworthiness of the manufacturer brand is extremely important, but the same is also true of your chosen retailer, because if there is an issue with your purchase, we are both dependent on them to be supportive.

As an example, it is widely known that although the Rocna anchor is made in China, the quality is consistently good. The quality control and any necessary support are upheld by the ‘brand’ and through the network of their distributors.

The Titan brand is upheld by CMP, who are the manufacturers of both Titan chain and the Rocna anchor.

Please note that you don’t need to match your chain to your windlass by manufacturer, because it is the calibration that is all important, but if you don’t have any other preference, it may make reasonable sense e.g. Lofrans, who are world renowned for the quality of their windlasses manufactured in their factory in Italy. N.B. Lofrans chain is manufactured in China, just like Titan.

If you prefer to buy your chain that is manufactured in Europe, MF Catenificio are leading the way in terms of innovation with their Solid Zinc duplex Hot Dip Galvanising process. MF manufacture their chain in Italy.

All our chain comes with a test certificate. A copy of the certificate appertaining to the specific batch from which your length was cut is available on request.

Jimmy Green Chain – Country of Origin
Galvanised Chain Brand/Source/Manufacturer Origin
Lofrans Grade 40 Lalizas UK China
MF Grade 40 MF Catenificio Italy
Titan Grade 43 Titan China
MF DAMS Grade 70 MF Catenificio Italy
Stainless Chain Brand/Source/Manufacturer Origin
Stainless G3 William Hackett China
Cromox Stainless G6 Ketten Walder Germany
Cromox Stainless G6+ Ketten Walder Germany

Galvanising Quality

All the chains that Jimmy Green Marine supply are sourced from reputed brands. The predominant focus for Jimmy Green Marine and our customers, is on the quality of the galvanising and how long it will last without rusting.

Chain manufacturers do not generally have an in-house galvanisation plant. Galvanising is normally subcontracted to an external provider who is usually local to keep transportation costs to a minimum. 

We have seen galvanising from countless different manufacturers over 4 decades of selling anchor chain. All of them have had batches with galvanising issues at one time or other. All our chain is visually inspected when it arrives, any length that doesn’t pass our quality control check is set aside and reported back to the manufacturer.

The visual inspection is to identify any fused links, an unacceptably rough finish, and any blemishes. If you have read the article on the galvanising process, you will understand that seemingly bare patches should still have effective galvanising protection.

There is more information on Quality Control in this article Jimmy Green Quality Control Process

Any rejected lengths may end up on the website at a reduced price with full details to ensure that customers are aware of the potential issues.

If you are not happy with your chain, bearing in mind that the appearance of all galvanising changes as soon as it encounters seawater, you need to bring it to our attention. We follow a process of reporting the problem to the distributor or direct to the manufacturer, as appropriate. We act on your behalf to secure the best possible outcome. On occasion, despite our best efforts, the claim may be refused or ignored. At this point, if we believe that the customer is justified in their complaint, we will endeavour to help at our own cost.

This article will help you to understand what to expect from the galvanising on your chain: Galvanising appearance, performance and endurance

Stainless Quality

This is directly related to the grade.

G3 is adequate for anchoring in temperate waters.

Cromox recommend their G6 for temperate waters, but only G6+ for warm waters.

The Cromox electro-polishing option is a value for money method of extending the finish and working life of their G6 and G6+ stainless.

Chain Selection Summary - Galvanised
Lofrans Grade 40 World renowned manufacturer of windlasses, Chinese origin
MF Grade 40 Solid Zinc Galvanising, Italian origin
Titan Grade 43 Slightly higher grade/strength, world renowned brand, Chinese origin
MF DAMS Grade 70 High strength, Solid Zinc Galvanising, Italian origin, more expensive than Grade 40, weight saving advantage
Chain Selection Summary - Stainless
G3 Less staining than galvanising, not as strong as G40, Chinese origin, respected UK chain distributorSummary - Stainless
G6 High strength/endurance, electo-polishing option, German manufacture, more expensive than G3
G6+ High strength/endurance, electo-polishing option, the ultimate, most expensive anchor chain, German manufacture