Where and why we float the chain: At anchorages with (lots of) coral heads to avoid the chain tangling on those coral heads. If the chain would tangle on the coral heads it would have a couple of adverse effects: the catenary effect of the chain is reduced (or even eliminated if tangled very close to the bow of the yacht), lifting the anchor might be difficult or even impossible without diving, the galvanization of the anchor chain chafes off faster, more coral gets destroyed. The adverse effect of floating the chain is obviously to loose the friction of the part of the chain which is floating. The way we position / deploy the buoys we end up with some 10m chain on the seabed. There is obviously a residual risk of even that chain tangling, but less likely given of the length of the chain thereafter and rather stable wind direction of the trade winds.

Which buoyance devices we use: When we arrived in the Tuamotus we started off with fenders as we did not carry anything else. The disadvantage of fenders is that they compress if they submerse, one gets growth on them, etc. Those hard plastique pearl farm buoys are much better. Some people say, they are washed ashore everywhere in the Tuamotus. Well that was not our experience. Kauehi was our first atoll and in any reasonable distance from the village the shore line was cleaned by the locals. Nevertheless, many villagers have their stash of pearl farm buoys in their gardens. So we simply walked to one obviously very friendly fellow and asked whether we could have four of them. He actually picked the four nicest he had, of the same color, including lines attached to them and did not even want to have anything in return. We put on clips/little carabines to the ends of the lines for fast attachment / detachment to/from the anchor chain and were ready to go.


What kind of clips we use: We use little stainless steel carabiners, the size is basically driven by the diameter to fit through a chain link, i.e. it needs to be sufficiently thin (we have a 10mm DIN chain, so carabiners end up being like 4-5cm in length), we use different sorts, i.e. whatever we found in our related spare part bag


Where we position the buoys: Our approach is to put the first buoy typically / normal conditions at 10m plus water depth from the anchor, then a buoy every 5m of chain, after the fourth we let out another 7-8m of chain and then hook the bridle. There are other recommendations which take a multiplier to water depth (like 1.5x or 2x water depth), but we just find that not suitable to accommodate for all ranges of water depths. The 10m basically decides how much chain ends up on the seabed, one could do less if the sandy patch is really small or more if there is a larger sandy patch to anchor (in case one sees that at all).

With this approach we end up with a few meters more chain out than based on our non-floating chain length rule under normal conditions (we apply waterdepth plus 30m) โ€“ in bad conditions we obviously deploy more in both cases (non-floating and floating).


How we deploy the buoys: First we explore to find the spot we want to anchor as usual. If possible we would look for a sandy patch for the anchor itself, but despite the clear water, when anchoring in deeper water we are not able to see for good and/or be able to drop the anchor that accurately. We put out as much chain as we feel comfortable to โ€œdrive inโ€ the anchor. Then we pull up the chain again to the first spot for the first buoy (the 10m + water depth), then put out 5m chain, attach a buoy, etc. (lifting the anchor is as usual, just stopping at every buoy and unclipping it, it does not really delay the process once one gets the hang of it).


How we clip on the clips: For us it is exactly the same as putting the chain hook / bridle on. So in our case we have to bend over the pull pit and downward to clip them on, but as said, thatโ€™s the same as we do with the bridle as well and โ€œnormal procedureโ€ for us. If we had a set-up where the chain hook would come through the bow roller, the clips could go through as well as they are way smaller than our chain hook and in our case it would be easy to get a clip and line from the front through the bowroller back on deck. Difficulties I could only see arising if it was โ€“ due to bow design / set-up – tricky to get to the chain outside of the bow or the clip from the front through the bowroller back on deck or into the chain locker, but thatโ€™s set-up specific, hard to comment in general (in the worst case I would deploy by dinghy).


General experience: In general, the boat swings easier than with a non-floating chain, due to the missing friction of the chain length towards the yacht. In places where the wind is dominant anyways and is stable trade wind from the same sector all the time, thatโ€™s no issue at all. In places, where swinging is dominated rather by current or tide, one obviously has to check for the space.

In our case only the buoy closest to the yacht is floating on water level in a low wind situation, the others are submersed. We actually measured in one instance the depths of the clips on the anchor chain on an anchorage where the anchor was at 11.5m depths: the clips of the buoys were at 7m, 4m, 2m and 0m water depth respectively (starting from the anchor) at low wind.

Floatin Chain