Question: Why do boats need to galvanize (cover in zinc) their chain rode? Answer: To prevent it from rusting.
For the years we’ve been out cruising, we preferred NOT to be stuck in marinas paying slip fees, but yes…we’ve been forced into marinas from time to time due to upkeep, maintenance and upgrades. But for the last year straight, we anchored on a regular basis and we had been very much looking forward to all of the tropical beauty of the cruising grounds of Panama, where our heavy anchor and sound chain would make the difference in our quality of life.
In July of 2022, we came east through the Panama Canal and brought Tulum-5 into Shelter Bay Marina for some well deserved maintenance and TLC. As part of that work, we hauled Tulum out in July to install new bearings on her shaft and have her bottom painted. LOTS of work gets done (when boats haul out) that most people never see because it’s done behind the scenes in a boatyard..and this was no exception for us. Our anchor chain needed some TLC and I had done some research on various methods we could use to maintenance our precious anchor chain and improve its life span. Basically, we could galvanize the chain or we would be forced to buy new chain (eventually). The galvanizing would add innumerable years to the chain, meaning no new chain would be needed for years.
But as I researched hot galvanizing in Panama and saught advice from the Shelter Bay Yard Manager, it became clear hot galvanizing in Panama might not be the best option. I needed to find another option, as buying new chain wasn’t on the table. After another conversation with the Yard Manager and doing more research, I stumbled on a cold galvanizing product that was available from the yard immediately and I had seen applied successfully onto chain at a yard in La Paz, Mexico. Thus I stumbled onto Zinga, the product we decided to use to cold galvanize our chain instead of hot galvanize. Between doing nothing at all, hot galvanizing sometime in the future or spending an enormous amount of the money and time trying to find the right chain in the right quantity (possibly having to import it from the US), the cold galvanizing solution seems to be the best solution at the time. I still think it was a great solution knowing the limited options available.
Difference between hot and cold galvanizing:
Hot dip galvanization is actually a chemical treatment in which an electrochemical reaction takes place. But in case of cold galvanization, a physical treatment takes place in which a layer of zinc just gets brushed on the base metal.*
Quoted from the Zinga website as being 95% pure zinc dust…the stuff was sludgy thick and nearly ruined the power mixer I was forced to use in order to liquify it enough to paint on the chain. But writing about it for this post, the application seems pretty straightforward and easy. Process sounds simple…lay out the chain, pressure wash it to get it clean as possible, mix the Zinga, paint it on one whole side of the chain, let it dry, repeat on the other side. Simple RIGHT? Not so much…cause you also have to do this whole thing when it’s not raining and you have to do it all by hand…including turning over every single link of 275 feet of chain so you can make sure every single piece of fully coated, including the inside of the chain.
We finished the cold zinc application process in late July and Tulum went back in the water with a sexy new blue bottom and brand new shaft bearings. We’ve been working hard on her ever since, including varnishing both the windows and the toerails between rain squalls and constantly improving other details around the boat. The nice part is….these things are already done and will last for years to come…even the varnishing.
Wanna read about some of our improvements since we arrived at Shelter Bay, click the links:
* Source for this information was: www.glavanizers.co accessed on 24/11/2022