What is an anchor snubber, and why should you have one?

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In the past, we used to drop our anchor and simply leave the chain connected around the windlass. This setup was fine until one night the wind picked up, and from the forecabin we felt the boat snatching and jerking against what most likely an incredibly tight chain. I lay in bed wide-awake worrying that something might give, either the windless from its fittings, or the anchor from the sea bed. Thankfully the wind dropped, but it did get us thinking.
I’d always just assumed that the anchor chain itself would act as some sort of shock absorber (apparently this is called “catenary”) but it seems this isn’t the case, especially in winds over a Force 6.
The solution is a simple snubber; a length of nylon line which connects to the anchor chain by either a rolling hitch (learn to tie one) or a chain hook. With one end attached to the anchor chain, and the other to a cleat, the line stretches and prevents shock loads to your ground tackle. If the wind really picks up, you can rig two in a bridle. If there’s the potential for chafe where the snubber line exits the boat (through the fairlead preferably), add chafe protection.
There are some potential downsides to be considered:
  • The noise they eliminate might hide the fact the chain and/or the anchor is moving.
  • The nylon line can act a bit like a rubber band, and increase the tendency of the boat to sail back and forth whilst anchored.
  • Once rigged you cannot ease or retrieve the anchor without removal.
An with anything related to anchoring, opinions vary. Some say they only use them if the bottom is noisy (rocky), some rig them all the time. What do you think?
🎥 This guy in his video shows how he sets his up. He connects the line via a rolling hitch, which some say is more secure, and less likely to break than a hook.
📖 This article explains the types of hooks you can buy together with guidance on line diameter and length. We’ve got the one they call a “Seadog ChainGripper”, which is basically a shackle with a captive pin that fits over the anchor chain. It’s highly unlikely to fall off, but it is a bit fiddly to undo.

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