Voyager finds shackle and anchor incompatible.

From Ocean Navigator #135
January/February 2004
Recently I replaced our boat Alacazam’s anchor shackle with a swivel shackle attachment. Most of the time it works well by persuading the anchor to nimbly self-stow in the bow roller.

But on recovering it one morning, the swivel jammed (see photo). Putting it down to my less-than-perfect anchoring technique, I vowed to take more care next time.

Then it happened again.

The fault lies not with the swivel, which appears to be adequately engineered to handle the tensile loads normally expected of it. Nor does it lie with the Bruce anchor, which, except for one recent experience involving a lively nocturnal drag across Simson Bay Lagoon, St. Maarten, has never let me down. (In fairness, it was blowing a steady 45 knots with 60-knot gusts, and when we recovered, the anchor was found to have mated with a discarded bunk cover.)

Image Credit: Dick McClary

The author found that the anchor shackle he was using to make anchoring easier didn’t help since it jammed in the anchor slot.

It’s just that the two are incompatible. The Bruce has a slotted hole for the shackle rather than a round hole. This allows the swivel to slide down to the end of the slot and lock itself in the position shown, which has two effects:

1. A force is applied across the swivel, putting a bending moment on it for which it was probably not designed.

2. An eccentric load is exerted on the anchor, which will cause it to break out earlier than it otherwise would.

Neither scenario makes for an easy night’s sleep, so clearly either the swivel or the Bruce had to go. At $20 for the swivel and about $300 for the anchor, it was one of life’s easier decisions.

Dick McClary lives in Plymouth, England, but spends most of each year aboard his 38-foot sloop Alacazam in the West Indies with his wife, Mary Swift.

By Ocean Navigator