The Facts about using a Kellet
Like many aspects of anchoring, including anchor selection, there is often a quite heated debate about the pros and cons of using a Kellet, Anchor Angel or Chum, so here are some facts.
Keeping a rode away from other boats
This is a very good use for a kellet albeit a small one. By placing a kellet on the anchor rode of a buoy, an anchor trip line or even a boats anchor rode, the vertical angle can be greatly increased. This minimizes the risk of an errant propeller or keel coming in contact with it.
Kellets are often used to improve the absorption of the surge forces caused by wave action. This is very similar to the catenary effect of a chain. It takes a good deal of energy to straighten out the sag in a chain and this reduces the tugging at the (hopefully well) embedded anchor and on the deck hardware.
To be effective, a kellet used for dampening should be placed at the half-way point between boat and anchor. Placing it further up or down the rode reduces its effectiveness.
Improved Holding Power
Kellets are often used to improve an anchor’s holding power. Placing a kellet in close proximity to the end of the anchor shank will improve its angle to the sea floor in lighter winds. Under these circumstances it will thus also improve its holding power. The further away from the anchor shank, the less effective the kellet becomes.
It is much easier to improve the dampening my increasing the length of a rope rode or the nylon rope snubber on an all chain rode. Double the length doubles the dampening, with very little weight consequences for the boat.
As far as an anchor’s holding power goes, adding a 20-50 pound kellet to the shank of an anchor will most certainly improve its angle to the bottom (in light winds) this would equate to improved scope, and one might assume that you attain 100% scope, which would mean one would avail of 100% of an anchor’s maximum holding power.
One of the arguments for using a kellet to improve holding is using is in a tight anchorage, so one must assume the proponent is using a 4:1 or less scope, which would result in losing half of the anchors holding power without the kellet. This is all nice and fine until one looks at the weight gain on the boat.
Using the table below for Danforth anchors as an example, a 14 pound anchor has a max holding power of 920 lbs. A 4:1 scope would reduce this to 506 lbs, so adding a kellet is good as this might give you close to the maximum holding power.
However, going up just two sizes and adding only 11 lbs (instead of 50) we come to 880 lbs holding at a 4:1 scope. This saves a lot of weight and provides serious peace of mind. Now bear in mind that if it blows hard the kellet on the smaller anchor will be lifted and the scope will be reduced to 4:1 significantly reducing its holding just when it is needed most.
A bigger anchor is always better. If your anchor is not holding well, you can certainly use a kellet to temporarily help. However you would be well advised to either buy a better anchor or a bigger anchor of the same type.
Alex and Daria Blackwell are the authors of “Happy Hooking - The Art of Anchoring.” It covers every aspect of anchors and anchoring in a fun and easy to read format with lots of photos and illustrations. It is available from good chandleries, Amazon and on our publishing website.
For more information on this subject or on anchoring in general, please see our book:
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