A bridle (or snubbers) is an essential part of the anchoring system. How ours are set up and why we use the Mantus Chain Hook (hint: it stays on!)

Anchoring Bridle with a Mantus Chain Hook

I got a question this weekend about our anchoring bridle (which we love) and I realized that I’d never written about it or, more specifically, the Mantus Chain Hook. It’s laying on the deck of our boat in the above picture — in use, most of it is below water.

On our previous boat, a Tayana 37, we used two 3-stand nylon lines as snubbers, tying them to the chain with rolling hitches and then cleating them to the forward cleats.

The boat had come with a bridle and two chain hooks (the Eye GrabHook and the ABI Chain Grabber in the photo below), but if the winds were light, both would just fall off the anchor chain. Not good! The others did not impress us as being more likely to stay on.

A bridle (or snubbers) is an essential part of the anchoring system. How ours are set up and why we use the Mantus Chain Hook (hint: it stays on and these don't!)

The whole purpose of snubbers or a bridle is to prevent shock loading on the anchor chain. With the snubber or bridle in place, the line slowly stretches and puts pressure on the anchor chain, digging the anchor in. Without it, a gust will jerk the chain and quite possibly pop the anchor loose.

Dave and I feel that snubbers or a bridle are a key component to anchoring safely and securely.

So on our previous boat, since we couldn’t find a hook that didn’t fall off, we used snubbers and attached them to the chain with rolling hitches (snubbers are separate lines for each side of the boat; a bridle brings the two lines from each side of the boat together in a V and then has one attachment point to the chain). They worked well, but were a pain to put on and take off – and trying to take them off quickly in an emergency would have been just about impossible; we would have had to cut them off.

A bridle with a chain hook is much simpler to use and faster to remove in an emergency situation. But until Mantus came out with theirs, we just weren’t confident that any hook would stay on. The Mantus Hook was a game-changer for us. (Disclosure: Mantus is a TBG sponsor and I do make a little on purchases made through the links here; however – and this is a biggie – anchoring gear is of critical importance to any boat. I use and recommend Mantus because I think it’s the best and not because I make a bit of money. My life depends on my choices!)

Mantus put together a very short video (48 seconds) showing how their chain hook works. You can see how it positively locks into the chain both by sliding over a link and also having a gate that closes:

The bridle we have is one that came with Barefoot Gal – we simply replaced the old “fall off” chain hook with the Mantus one. It’s made of 3-stand nylon line. The diameter of the line depends on the size, weight and windage of the boat – it has to be sized so that the line will stretch under pressure and thus this is one case where bigger is NOT better. Too large a diameter won’t have the stretch needed! Ours – for a 34’ Gemini catamaran – is 5/8”.

You can make your own bridle or retrofit a Mantus chain hook on an existing bridle as we did. If you don’t already have a bridle, a good option is to just buy a premade one from Mantus – it comes pre-spliced with all the hardware and even chafe gear (as well as the Mantus chain hook, of course!).

Chain hooks are sized according the size chain that you have on your anchor. To learn more or buy the Mantus chain hook or bridle:

Mantus has worldwide distributors, so if you are outside the US you can contact them to see where to get them locally. BTW, Mantus customer service is fantastic if you have any other questions, too!

One additional note: if a serious storm were approaching, we’d use our dock lines to make snubbers (with rolling hitches) as back ups to the bridle — we have always been “belt and suspenders” types with backup snubbers whenever weather threatened.

A bridle (or snubbers) is an essential part of the anchoring system. How ours are set up and why we use the Mantus Chain Hook.

I'd like to know about...

Explore more

Want weekly tidbits of cruising information? Sign up for The Boat Galley's free weekly newsletter. You'll get the newest articles and podcasts as well as a few relevant older articles that you may have missed.

Do you find The Boat Galley useful? You can support the site when you buy from Amazon by using the links on this site or clicking below. No extra cost for you!

  • Les Griffith
    Posted at 26 April 2016 Reply

    My boat came with an older bridle and eye grab hook which I just replaced with a Mantis system. The Mantis is impressive for sure, I have not had a chance to use it but it looks very secure. The Mantis Web site is a great resource covering the fine art of anchoring for us newbies. Thanks for the added details about the need for the line to stretch, the tendency to over size is not always wise. The distributor (sailboatowners.com) did not include the hook but when I called they sent one at cost since the site did not make it clear the hook was optional, great support from them.

  • Chris H
    Posted at 26 April 2016 Reply

    I also liked the idea of the Mantus until I spotted the ‘sharp’ inside edge – then I saw the latest Practical Sailor report (March 16?) which identified the same issue – and that it weaked the chain considerably.

  • Louise Hornor
    Posted at 26 April 2016 Reply

    We, too, found that the Mantus hook is much more likely to stay on. Unfortunately for us, we can’t use the plastic latch on the Mantus. We have a solid, high gunnel around our bow and my husband attaches the hook by sticking his whole arm out a hawse hole; there’s simply no way to get two hands on the hook.

    Without the latch, the hook will occasionally fall off in water as shallow as the snubber is long. We think the hook touches the bottom and sometimes gets knocked off at slack tide/current. That being said, we have a steel boat and the snubber attaches at the water line via a shackle, so it makes a distinctive rattle when it isn’t properly hooked and we know to go fix it. No harm done, since the water is slack and obviously not pulling the chain tight.

    A bigger problem has been that occasionally the hook will “double catch” the chain. A second loop of chain can get caught in the cross-shaped teeth as the boat turns, and it shows up as a big chain knot when the anchor is weighed! Fixing it involves unweighting the knot with a second hook we keep around for just that purpose, then a lot of jiggling and poking with boat poles. We’ve gotten better at that, but the first time it happened was quite disconcerting. For those of you with easier access (using both hands, imagine that!) to your chain, I’m guessing the plastic latch would solve this issue, too.

    BTW, if you have an older Mantus without the plastic latch, ask Mantus to send you one. They sent us one for free; it’s not their fault we couldn’t use it!

    All in all, I think the Mantus is the best hook on the market. Our weird set up would be a challenge with any snubbing system. Our high gunnels are a pain at anchoring time but we love ’em in heavy seas.

  • donald bland
    Posted at 27 April 2016 Reply

    hey Caroline, & Dave,
    I remember a plow anchor you had? Now days you feel the mantus is better than that one?
    I have a smaller , 8 metre (26′) folk-boat, but I do not want her on the rocks , eh?

    • Carolyn Shearlock
      Posted at 27 April 2016 Reply

      We have never used a traditional plow anchor on our boat. We had a Spade on our previous boat and loved it. We think the Mantus is even better as anchor technology has continued to improve and it’s also less expensive (at least in the US).

  • Matt C
    Posted at 28 April 2016 Reply

    I am working on remaking my bridle for our Lagoon catamaran. I am definitely going to try the Mantus chain hook, seems like a great design!

    I wonder if you all can tell me how to splice the eye and thimble in the center of the bridle to attach to the hook? I am trying to make a bridle exactly like yours in the photo. I’ve done the standard googling and haven’t been able to crack that code! I guess I just don’t even know what to call that sort of splice!

    • Carolyn Shearlock
      Posted at 28 April 2016 Reply

      It’s an eye splice with a thimble. The two lines are spliced at the Y, with one being long and going down to make the eye. Here is how to do it: http://web.comhem.se/~u77479609/eyesplice.html

      We find it easiest to tape the ends of the three strands when you separate them and then write 1, 2 and 3 on the tape (in acccordance with what they call strands 1, 2 and 3 in the description) to make it easier to keep track of which is which as you’re starting out.

  • Catherine Gilbert
    Posted at 28 April 2016 Reply

    Another interesting product review – thanks Carolyn! Here’s a little trick we learned to help maintain our catamaran bridle in warm tropical waters… because a catamaran bridle usually ends up with quite a bit of line underwater, if you spend extensive time in warm water the growth on the bridle can become quite disgusting to handle and eventually may damage the line. We purchased an inexpensive plastic ground sheet from the hardware store (not the woven tarp kind, just smooth plastic) and cut off long strips about 3-4″ wide. I then secured the end of the strip with electrical tape just above the eye of the bridle and spiral wrapped the strip of plastic around the bridle all the way up to near the attachment point above the waterline. I made sure the wrap was nice and tight and then secured the end with more electrical tape. Now the growth wipes off easily, the plastic wrapping lasts about a year (and we live on the hook year-round in the Caribbean), and when you remove the wrap your line is almost like new underneath.

  • JRankin
    Posted at 28 January 2017 Reply

    Not sure why the chain hook should come off unless after putting bridle on people are not slacking the chain between the hook and the windlass so that the bridle takes the weight. This is an important feature of using a hook. Our bridle comes on board though two fair leads about 10 feet back from the bow so minimising the jerk of the chain and the chain hook is about water level

    • Carolyn Shearlock
      Posted at 28 January 2017 Reply

      As the boat swings on anchor, the chain can twist and dump the hook off even with plenty of slack in the chain. It generally happens in light air.

Post A Comment