3/10/2013 – Snubber

Decided it was time to refine my anchor snubber.  For those who don’t know, the snubber is a piece of line that is stretchier than chain, used to take the strain off the chain and the windlass.   The chain is let out, then one end of the snubber is either tied or hooked to the chain.  The other end is secured on deck to either a cleat or a kingpost.  Then the chain is let our further until the snubber is taut and the chain between the hook and the windlass is slack.  Now, if the boat gets to hobby-horsing or dancing at anchor, when it comes up to the end of its tether, it stops softly as the nylon snubber stretches some, rather than stopping hard as it would if it came to the end of the un-stretchy chain.  Much easier on equipment and nerves and lessens the chance of yanking the anchor out.

Anyway, my old snubber, while serviceable, was getting a little shabby looking.  It was made up of two separate lines with thimbled eyes on one end.  The thimbles were getting cock-eyed and the lines were different sizes.  The arrangement of shackles to get these two eyes connected to one chain hook was a downright embarrassment.  Time to straighten things up.

I started by finding a long enough piece of 3/4″ three-strand nylon in the lazarette.  I middled it around a rusty, but still serviceable, thimble and then put on a temporary seizing using a doubled constrictor knot.

temporary seizing

Next, I wrapped the eye using tarred nylon marline and removed the constrictor knot when I got close to the end of the wraps:

wrapped - seizing removed


Passed the working end through the eye and pulled the other end to bury the crossover.

finished wrapping


Made a few frapping turns to tighten the wraps and also protect them from chafe:

a few frapping turns


But, for real chafe protection, there’s nothing like old fire hose (Thank you, Silverton Volunteer Fire Department) which I sewed in place using waxed sail thread and also seized in place using a doubled constrictor knot backed up by a surgeon’s knot.  Nothing like the belt and suspenders approach for peace of mind.



Add some more anti-chafe gear where the line will run through the hawse pipes and we’re good to go.

snubbing harness



About sryoder

Steve & Lulu... retired. Had enough of the cold wet dreary fall/winter/spring in the Pacific Northwest. Bought a boat, fixed it up, sold our home and sailed to Mexico in November, 2010. Been here ever since except for occasional forays to the States (summer only, thank you) to visit the kids, parents and siblings. If you're looking for a sailing blog, this is the wrong place. This is a traveling, hunkering in, eating blog. Sailing is just how we get from place to place when we can't walk.
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9 Responses to 3/10/2013 – Snubber

  1. vic says:

    Put some Ospho on that Thimble with a toothbrush & it will take the rust off! : >

  2. Chuck says:

    We stopped using thimbles with chain hooks about 20 years ago. Now we just tie a rolling hitch and it allows us to end for end the line and shorten it when it starts to show signs of wear.

    But if you want to continue to use the thimble / hook approach then a few $ more will buy you a SS thimble and no more rust

    • sryoder says:

      I used a rolling hitch originally but ultimately opted for the hook as it seemed so much simpler to deploy and, more importantly, to remove. I tried to buy stainless thimbles and chain hooks when I first built the snubber. But unfortunately, they were not to be had at the time. Maybe by the time the rust has done enough damage to warrant replacing, which will probably be a long time from now, I’ll switch to SS.

  3. Belinda Del Pesco says:

    See if this makes sense to you. I confused…

    Belinda http://www.belindadelpesco.com Sent from my iPhone

    • sryoder says:

      Not sure what you’re confused about. Tell me and I’ll see if I can help.

      • Hi Steve,
        I’m not sure where this comment came from, because I’m not confused at all. Your photos and description were clear, as always. Perhaps I fat fingered a note about something else, to someone else, and it landed here bc I was still logged in? Not sure, but whatever the culprit, your post was not the source of my confusion. 🙂 Sorry about that.

  4. Tate says:

    Interesting idea the way you have it setup. After not being able to get our snubber right and always seeming to sail back and forth at anchor due to it being uneven, I gave up and ordered the giant d-shackle that fits through the eyeband. I plan to put a big block on it and run a snubber through that tied to the posts. Hopefully that will straighten us out.

    • sryoder says:

      I suspect that you’re still going to dance around at anchor. Our original setup was a nylon line, rolling-hitched to the chain and run out over the anchor rollers. Worked fine, though we still sailed around at anchor. Then I decided that I didn’t really want all that yanking happening halfway out the bowsprit so I ran the line through a hawse pipe and out to the anchor, still using a rolling hitch to fasten it to the chain. Worked fine but we still sailed around at anchor. Then I replaced the rolling hitch with a chain hook after I had the rolling hitch get kind of jammed up a couple times making it hard to untie. Then, I decided to split the work between two cleats and maybe, just maybe reduce the sailing at anchor by using the setup that I have now. It probably reduced the sailing at anchor a little but, judging by our experience as well as watching all the other boats at anchor at Santispac during the northers, I think the only way to really reduce the sailing at anchor is to deploy a stern anchor along with the bow anchor and that introduces a whole new set of issues. Now we’ve learned to just enjoy the constant change of scenery that swinging at anchor provides. The current setup, with the chafe gear permanently attached, gives me a known spot to cleat off my snubber. As long as the chafing gear is about halfway through the hawsepipes on both sides of the bow, I know that both sides are the same length.

      BTW, a lot of Westsailors like to fasten their snubber to the extra hole in the bowsprit chainplate at the waterline. Besides the inconvenience of trying to attach it and remove it, I read somewhere about how the sideways pull can cause leaks on the chainplate. Made sense to me and I’ve never chosen to pursue that path.

      Even with all this, there still comes a time when the slack anchor chain rubs on the bobstay. When that happens, down below it sounds like one piece is hacksawing through the other. On deck I have a line with an anchor hook at the end. When the anchor is stowed on the bowsprit, I use this line to hold the chain in place so there’s no strain on the windlass. Now, when anchored, I run this line through one of the hawsepipes, hook into the slack chain, and pull it away from the bobstay. It’s cut down a LOT on the unnerving metal-to-metal sawing noise.

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