How to Choose Your Anchor Chain
These are the five basic choices that you need to make to determine the optimum anchor chain for your individual requirements.
- Hot Dip Galvanised or Stainless Steel
- Grade (strength)
- Chain Size and Calibration
- Chain Manufacturer
Galvanised or Stainless Steel?
Hot Dip Galvanised
Hot Dip Galvanising was developed over 50 years ago and is still the most prevalent finish for anchors and chains 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 will likely appear immediately after introducing your brand new shiny galvanised chain into a wet, salty, or 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?
Galvanising - Managing your Expectations
If you want your anchor to look pristine on the bow roller and your chain spotlessly blemish-free on deck or in the chain locker, then a high-grade stainless may be your best choice.
Stainless steel calibrated anchor chain is available in G3 and G4, around three 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.
The smoother, slippier finish of stainless steel chain may help dispersal in the chain locker compared with the grippier surface of galvanised chain.
Mix and Match
Galvanised and stainless steel are commonly joined together in your anchoring system, but you should remember 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. G4 equates to Grade 40
Galvanised chain is generally available in Grade 30, Grade 40, and Grade 70.
Jimmy Green Marine doesn’t stock G3 or 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 G4 and the higher grades G6 and G6+.
Jimmy Green Marine has compiled a Chain Break Load Comparison Chart for all our chains.
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 a disastrous breakage may occur during severe weather.
Failure is much more likely to happen at the connection point between the anchor and the 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?
This depends on the grade 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
There are two main calibrations of anchor chains in Europe: DIN766 and 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 reading on Calibration: Calibrated Anchor Chain General InformatioNin our Knowledge Centre 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 be a rope and chain combination, varying in proportion according to your needs, or all chain.
The choice ranges from these two examples:
A long warp and a short 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
All chain for extended cruising where reliance on anchoring is paramount.
A very good case can be made to compromise between the two, especially where weight or space in the chain locker is limited.
Another option is a short piece of warp at the bitter end of a long chain length. This provides a degree of elasticity should all the chain be required in extremis and a neat means of attachment in the chain locker.
Generally speaking, the chain lengths we supply 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 well for very shallow or deep water. They are also 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 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, and Turkey. However, the huge increase in transportation costs caused by the pandemic has certainly eroded a proportion of that saving.
The respectability, credibility, and trustworthiness of the manufacturer brand are extremely important, but the same is also true of your chosen retailer because if there is an issue with your purchase, you will be dependent on them both to be supportive.
For 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, 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, 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 is 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.
|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 G4||William Hackett||China|
|Cromox Stainless G6||Ketten Walder||Germany|
|Cromox Stainless G6+||Ketten Walder||Germany|
All Jimmy Green Marine chain is sourced from reputed brands. The predominant focus for Jimmy Green Marine and our customers is on the galvanising quality 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, usually local, to keep transportation costs to a minimum.
We have seen galvanising from countless manufacturers over four decades of selling anchor chains. All of them have had batches with galvanising issues at one time or another. All our chain is visually inspected when it arrives, and 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 potential customers are fully 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, please bring it to our attention. We follow a process of reporting the problem to the distributor or directly 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
This is directly related to the grade.
G3 is adequate for anchoring in temperate waters.
G4 is a step up in quality and strength from G3, and G4 is consequently what Jimmy Green prefers to stock.
Cromox recommends 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.
|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|
|G4||Less staining than galvanising, similar strength to Galvanised G40, Chinese origin, respected UK chain distributor|
|G6||High strength/endurance, electro-polishing option, German manufacture, more expensive than G4|
|G6+||High strength/endurance, electro-polishing option, the ultimate, most expensive anchor chain, German manufacture|