Sunday, October 9, 2016

New chain or regalvanize?

The new chain vs. regalvanize issue is one of those topics that never really gets decidedly answered.  This is mostly because the answer comes down to personal circumstances.  I have talked to many cruisers about my chain, which is 5/16th HT and have gotten a variety of responses.  Some of them just shooting the bull and some of them quite authoritative, at least in their own minds.  Some told me to never regalvanize because it weakens the chain while others, including a VERY experienced circumnavigator that told me that regalvanizing would make the chain stronger and he would never consider buying new.  I don't necessarily agree with his assessment but then again, I don't buy into the thought that it weakens it either.

 I am not sure the age of our chain but we bought the boat about 4 years ago and there is nothing in the log books that indicate when the chain was purchased.  A completely uneducated guess would be about 10-15 years, but that is a stab in the dark.  Our problem is that it had gotten so rusty that it created a huge mess every time we deployed or retrieved the anchor.  By the looks of the chain there was not a huge amount of scaling or pitting, it appeared to be mostly just surface rust.

 The Rocna 55 on the scale at Fetasa.  You can see how rusty it looks going in.

 The boys at Fetasa getting the chain out of White Lightning.

Talking with Jose Carlos about the cost and timing of delivery

The cost of new 5/16th HT chain is about $5.50/foot, we have 300' so that would be about $1,650.00 not including shipping.  The cost to regalvanize, in our case, was $243, and that included the $80 to ship it back to our dry dock in San Carlos Mexico.  Because we were not concerned with the integrity of our chain only tying to clean it up a bit, it was an easy choice.  Heck, even if we only got one season of rust free anchor deployment out of the process, it will be worth the $243.

Being in Mexico we had limited options.  However, after researching, the options in the USA are not that much better, just a LOT more expensive.  Our two closest options were Guadalajara or Mexicali.  We read several blog posts and forum threads on both facilities and by far the vote went to Mexicali.  That worked great for us because it was on our way home for the summer so we packed the 300' of chain onto the floorboards of our trusty "White Lightning" (our 1991 Honda Civic), along with the anchor and headed to the Fetasa plant in Mexicali Mexico.

We have nothing but praise for the people at Fetasa.  When we arrived at the plant we were amazed at how huge this place is.  Acres and acres of buildings.  Our little $163.10 job was like a kernel of corn in a Kansas grain silo.  However, they treated us like we were their most prized customer from the time we first called them to the time our chain and anchor was put on a truck headed back to the boat.  Mexicali is a huge city and needless to say we got lost trying to find the plant.  After a few phone calls trying to guide us to the plant they finally sent a young man to find us and then personally escorted us to the Fetasa property.  After we dropped off the chain and anchor they assigned someone to drive us out to the border crossing so we didn't get lost in the many busy streets of the huge city. That is great service and WAY beyond just being friendly or helpful.

Our friendly guide who piloted us to the border crossing.  Service with a smile!

After 3 months back home in Oregon we drove back down to the boat in Mexico and found our chain and anchor waiting for us in a crated box at Marina Seca San Carlos.  They look great!  We are extremely happy with the job they did and look forward to our newly galvanized ground tackle.  Thank you Fetasa for providing such amazing service!

 The captain inspecting the goods...almost like new!

 New shackle safety wired to the shank.

Marne helping to mark the chain.

We mark the chain with brightly colored zip ties.  Each zip tie represents 25'.

 Getting ready to haul it all aboard.

A quick splice from rode to chain at the bitter end.  The rode is a short piece, maybe 20' long, that is tied to the chain locker so we don't lose the whole kit and kaboodle if we go beyond our 300'.

The finished project secure on the bow.

If you don't want to spend 2-3 boat bucks on new chain, look up the Fetasa crew in Mexicali, you won't regret it.  The number to Fetasa is 686-555-9196. Our contact was Jose Carlos and his business cell number is 686-216-4079.

Until next time.

SV Liahona
Bret and Marne


  1. I LOVE that story. Well writ, and I love the DIY of taking 300 feet of chain to Mexicali. The chain looks better than new to me. I love the process of Galvanization. Good job team SV Liahona.

    1. Thanks Tom. You have to be a DIY kinda guy in this would do well here.

  2. Thanks for the blog, Now I am going to look into the cost of regalvanizing in Vancouver. 5/16th bbb is over $6/ft here. Btw, I hate to be a nit-picker but I hate zip ties as chain markers. They get brittle with age and when they come up over the bow roller, will likely eventually break off and end up in the ocean. I know they're small but every little bit just adds more garbage in the oceans and it has already gotten out of hand. Sorry for being picky about it but I am on the West Coast of Haida Gwaii and am constantly picking up plastic garbage that is washing ashore, mostly from Japan but also from N. American fishing vessels and who knows where else. It's really a horrible problem. Cheers.

  3. I understand and an appreciate you comments about that. I have found that when mine break after time the break going through the gypsy but I hadn't thought about the possibility of them breaking at the bow roller and going into the ocean, which I agree is not good.

  4. Thanks for being understanding. I really do hate to be critical, especially on such a great post and blog. Congrats on a successful blog btw. Very impressive.

  5. Thank you. I appreciate all comments and suggestions, even if I am doing something wrong. I want to know. It is all about the manner in which it is presented and you did so in a very kind and polite manner. Much appreciated.

  6. Bret, thanks for the great write up. We are in San Diego and looking to do the same. What was the turn around on the job?

  7. Turn around time is about 3 days. We left it there through the summer for timing purposes but Jose Carlos said that 3 days or so is normal.

  8. Great article. We also regalvanized our chain there in Mexicali about 6 years ago and wrote up an article for the southbound yahoo group. Our chain is 30 years old and has been galvanized 4 times. We try to end for end it every couple of years.

  9. Thanks for the comments Chuck. Hoping for good usage results from this process.