How to Tie a Snubber Line to the Anchor Chain

Written by will charpentier
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How to Tie a Snubber Line to the Anchor Chain
The snubber, not the chain, takes the strain. (cleat image by Jim Parkin from

Anchor chain has neither a sense of humour nor the ability to stretch. When an anchor chain is left under tension, with one end attached to the anchor buried in the seabed and the other end to your boat's winch, a strong wave may add just enough of a load to the already-tensioned chain that it simply snatches your winch from the deck, leaving you adrift without winch, chain or anchor. A snubber of stretchy nylon line adds some flexibility to the otherwise stodgy chain.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Three-strand laid nylon line

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  1. 1

    Set the anchor. Wrap the end of the nylon line--called the bitter end, because one end of it will be tied to one of the boat's bitts--through one link of the anchor chain twice, making sure there's slack in the second wrap.

  2. 2

    Pass the bitter end around behind the "standing part" of the line, so called because it stands still or steady, without being part of the knot. Push the bitter end through the slackened wrap around the chain link. Bring the bitter end around the standing part once again, tucking it under the wrap you just made to complete the knot, an anchor bend.

  3. 3

    Pull the anchor bend tight and wrap the end of the snubber line around the cleat nearest the winch at least three times. As you bring the end of the line under the horn of the cleat for the third time, carry the end of the line over the top of the cleat, under the opposing horn and around the cleat, then over the cleat again. Repeat this figure-eight wrap at least three times.

  4. 4

    Slack the anchor chain, so the snubber and the cleat manage the strain of the anchor chain, rather than allowing the anchor chain to pull your winch "out by the roots".

  5. 5

    Release the snubber by taking up slack on the chain with the winch until the strain on the snubber is eased. Once the strain is eased, untie the knot.

Tips and warnings

  • The nylon line should be twice as long as the distance between the cleat nearest the bow--the pointy end of your boat--and the winch's bow roller.
  • Never stand directly in line with a nylon line under a strain. If the line parts, it can kill or maim.

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