How to Splice an Oversized Rode into an Undersized Chain

3 Jun

Our anchor chain has been looking iffy for a while now.  Not “terrible”, not “dangerous”, but not exactly the way you would want a piece of equipment that is holding your vessel in place to look.  So, much gnashing of teeth and a great deal of money later, Papillon has a new 12 mm short-link G4 chain.

We decided to add 75 m of eight-strand rode to our 65 m chain.  We wanted 24 mm, but they only had 28 mm.  Well, okay.  Bigger is better, right?  Now.  How to attach the chain?  No problem – the good people at the shop spliced in an eye for us, so we could shackle the chain on and be done with it.

Except, the eye is the size of my head.  Not really going to fit through the hawsehole out of the anchor locker, which is an opening the size of my wrist.

Yeah, no.  Not happening.

Home-splicing it was.  For those of you who have never had to try it, splicing means partially unravelling the fancy rope you just paid a fortune for, then following a simple series of twenty or so steps to weave it through your equally expensive chain.  The idea is that, when you are done, the rope is so tightly wound through the chain the two won’t separate.  Ever.  Ever, ever.  Because, if they do, some sad night you are going to drift away.

Instructions in hand, Erik and I got started.

Step 1: Weave your rode through the final link of your chain.

And we stopped.

Didn’t we just experience this situation?

Here we discovered the true difference between 24 mm and 28 mm eight-braid.  We had no trouble with strands 1-6.  Strand 7 was a little dicey, but we made it.  But strand 8?  Ha.  Ha!  Not going through for love nor money.

And so the problem solving began.

What we needed, clearly, was more tension on the line to make a bigger hole.  First, we tried a tug of war.  All that accomplished was that Erik pulled me across the ground, and I got gravel in my pants.

Out came the bosun’s chair.

Be sure to feed Mom chocolate to add much-needed mass.

Not enough weight.  Out of the chair, Mom.

Let’s hang some real mass on that rope!

I clung to Erik’s legs as he spun in a crazy circle.  Again he tried to thread a garden hose through a needle.  Again he failed.

I stepped away for a few minutes to see what the kids were up to.  They have been making excellent use of the few green spaces in the yard, building forts and fairy houses and barges.  When I returned, I discovered that the rear end of our station wagon now floated ever-so-slightly above the ground.

Approved use for a trailer hitch, I’m sure.

Not satisfied with lifting a ton and a half into the air, he got back in the bosun’s chair.

Don’t give me that face – this wasn’t my idea.

Not.  Happening.

Finally, we unravelled the last strand into its component threads.  And I hear you splicing purists wailing in the background.  I know.  I know it is all the delightful twisting clockwise and anti-clockwise that gives rode its strength.  I know.  But we had no other choice.  We lifted our car in the air, for crying out loud!

Tiny strand by tiny strand, we got the last bit of the line through link one.

Oh, yeah!

The rest was a snap.  Well, relatively speaking.  We only had to feed four strands through each of the subsequent links.

And here we are.  Splice of the gods.

When it was done, Erik strolled away with a spring in his step.  I bent down to take a second look at our job.  Not bad, not bad.  I closed one eye, and lined up my wrist with the splice.  Hmm.  Is it really going to fit through the hawsehole?

I think I’ll have the girls distract Erik while I measure it tomorrow.


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