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Old 09-10-2007, 04:26 PM   #1
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Hi,

From all of your experience is it feasible to use a manual windlass or are the 12 volt models the only way to go?

The cost of the manual models is so much less that i would like to go that way.

I have just found out the hard way that pulling up and anchor and chain by hand in a windward anchorage can be difficult and dangerous.

Thanks for your thoughts.
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Old 09-10-2007, 06:24 PM   #2
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I'm certainly no expert, but...

In my opinion (depending on where and how you cruise) anchoring is physically the hardest job on any boat.

An electric windlass is far better than a manual windlass.

An electric windlass will enable you to get the heck out of a bad situation quickly and effortlessly... and you will find yourself stopping more often at more loations because anchoring is no longer such a back-breaking chore.

A new electric windlass was on top of my list when we bought our present boat. In addition to carrying larger anchors & more chain - my wife can now haul me to the top of our mast at the push of a button.

Go electric - you won't regret it.

To Life!

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Old 09-10-2007, 06:40 PM   #3
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Go electric - you won't regret it.
On the other hand, I spent a long time on a 24 meter coastguard cutter where we had only a manual windlass. It was never a problem to heave up the anchor and, in fact, I actually enjoyed the exercise. The symplicity of the system was also to recommend.

Nausikaa is a small yacht and so, again for simplicity's sake, I have no windlass at all and still enjoy the exercise of heaving up.

On the other hand, I will go for an electric windlass when the day comes that heaving up the anchor turns into a back killer!

Horses for courses in other words

Aye // Stephen
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Old 09-10-2007, 09:05 PM   #4
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In my experience, the manual windlass was almost useless in a situation where I needed to ship the anchor in a hurry.

I had sailed across the harbour and was anchored off a beach in pleasant conditions in a 36', 12 ton ketch. I was sailing alone. An unseasonal wind shift late in the day put the boat on a lee shore. With an electric windlass, I would have been able to start the engine and haul in the anchor whilst controlling the movement of the boat away from the shore.

As it was I couldn't bring the anchor in with the manual windlass (an Admiral which from memory took four return strokes per foot of chain retrieved) because whilst it was powerful, it was painfully slow. I could not retrieve the anchor manually, because in the time between breaking the anchor free and stowing it (or at least bringing it up far enough to clear the bottom) and getting back to the helm, the boat would have been blown dangerously close to the beach.

With two experienced people on board the danger is reduced and the situation not quite so critical. However, there is no substitute for the security of an electric windlass.

To get out of the situation I was in, I took a kedge 200' out in the tender, then swung off that whilst I retrieved the main anchor; then I winched out to the kedge. Given the size and windage of the boat and the direction of the wind, I ended up exhausted by this manoeuvre.

An electric windlass is not mandatory, but, I would not consider anchoring without one.

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Old 09-10-2007, 09:55 PM   #5
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David presents some very valid points and highlights what is, in my opinion, the greatest drawback of a manual windlass i.e. the slow recovery rate. He is quite right that a larger boat needs an efficient electric or maybe hydraulic, windlass.

Little Nausikaa remains however sans windlass.

As I said, it is horses for courses.

Aye // Stephen
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Old 09-10-2007, 11:53 PM   #6
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Go with electric. You can always use a sheet winch, or even a halyard, as a manual windlass in a pinch, but electric is the way to go if you can. (Remember you will need to have your motor running while using the electric windlass).
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Old 09-11-2007, 02:46 PM   #7
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Thanks for all the great information.

I will save my pennies i mean dollars to get a 12 volt windlass.

The rule seems to be to plan for the unexpected.

Thanks again.

Rick and Deb
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Old 09-11-2007, 04:39 PM   #8
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Hi Rick & Deb,

Once you've decided on an electric windlass - next you must decide upon a horizontal or vertical axis windlass.

There are pros & cons to each and maybe we'll get more opinions here in favour of one or the other.

I've installed both styles on the last two boats I've purchased. I replaced our broken manual windlass in the Philippines with a used Maxwell horizontal using locally sourced welding cables routed fwd from the house battery bank. I replaced the broken vertical electric windlass on our current boat with a bigger Lofans vertical windlass and used existing wiring. It's a heavy & uncomfortable job... as is anchoring by hand & back power.

Here is my opinion and thoughts on this matter. Again, I'm certainly no expert, but...

I believe horizontal windlasses are a bit easier to install and maintain but I prefer a vertical windlass as it offers more versitility. and provides a "cleaner" foredeck installation. They can be employed for warping the vessel into and out of tight spots or if battling strong wind & current while berthing, as you can lead the line onto the drum from almost any direction. We've also used our's for hoisting sail, lifting the dink out of the water, going aloft and even light salvage. The motor is below deck which may (or may not) provide better corrosion protection - depending on locker ventillation and / or deck leaks.

You'll also have to decide upon a windlass which has the capability of running in both directions, or not. My old Maxwell horizontal would only free-fall the anchor, whereas our new Lofrans vertical allows us to "power down" (or free-fall, if necessary). I prefer the power down capability as I don't have to lower the anchor by hand or be crouching over the windlass with hands on the brake to controll the speed of deployment. Simply stand back and push a button. Easy.

I've seen some wild accidents when the task of letting go the anchor gets out of control resulting in serious injuries, severe dammage and total loss of all ground tackle... including the windlass! Suddenly you have an expensive pile of gear on the bottom... and you're still adrift!

ALWAYS REMEMBER that the anchor windlass can easily tear your fingers off (or worse!) if operated carelessly.

A few other rules-of-thumb to always keep in mind include using a chain snubber of some sort to releive the stress from the windlass when at anchor and one should never use the windlass to pull the boat to the anchor but motor up toward the anchor while recovering the chain with no load. And it's never a bad idea to "up-size" your ground tackle.

We always use a 25 ft length of three strand nylon w/ chain hook as a snubber tied to a fwd cleat to releive the load from the windlass and to absorb the shock loads... and noise.

Anchoring is generally a two person operation but I've done it single handedly a number of times by a method of carefully coming up on the windlass and stopping just when the chain extends away from the bow diagonally. The chain's falling weight will surge the vessel forward toward the anchor and you can recover the gear in a series of steps without stressing the windlass or your mate. I've also enjoyed single handed success in blustery, crowded anchorages by employing the autopilot and engaging the fwd gear before dashing to the foredeck to recover the ground tackle.

In closing... I suggest you get the best elecrtic windlass you can afford. You'll enjoy your voyages more and you'll be inclined to stop at more places (for little more than lunch or a swim) because you'll have eliminated the back breaking chore of sweating over the foredeck as a member of the chain gang.

A switch at the helm would be a handy upgrade.

Now - if I can work-out a simple & economical method to automatically give the chain a freshwater rinse as it comes over the roller... while somebody else rubs my shoulders, cleans my sunglasses and fetches me a cold beer.

To Life!

Kirk
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Old 09-11-2007, 06:18 PM   #9
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Now - if I can work-out a simple & economical method to automatically give the chain a freshwater rinse as it comes over the roller... while somebody else rubs my shoulders, cleans my sunglasses and fetches me a cold beer.
Now that should not be too difficult Kirk. On big ships there nowadays is a permanent wash down pipe leading to the hawse pipe in which two or four nozzles spray the cable on its way up. In most cases, enless it is a very stciky mud bottom, the cable is clean before it comes on deck and thus causes no fouling of the compressor or windlass. Should any spots of dirt remain they are generally shaken off as the cable roundsn the gypsy.

On a yacht a similar arrangement could be made. If the yacht is fitted with a hawse pipe then exactly the arrangement I described could be made using a general service type of pump, which couls also be used for deck wash-downs, as a fire pump and as a reserve bilge pump.

If the boat does not boast a hawse pipe and the cable passes over a roller at the stemhead then I think a wash down system similar to that already described could be built in but instead of being fitted in the hawse pipe it could be mounted on the pullpit rails. Even the rails themselves, being no more than pipes really, could be utilised with spray nipples screwed into the rail.

Just a thought. I am sure it could be developed if there is sufficient interest

Aye // Stephen
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Old 09-11-2007, 11:18 PM   #10
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I'm laughing because I'm reading all the great reasons to have an electric windlass and not seeing my concerns here at all. I believe one should have a powerful electric or hydraulic windlass suitable to the boat. But, I also believe that one cannot count on that windlass always working. Therefore, try to make sure and have a GOOD manual windlass solution that you wouldn't mind using.

Our Rawson 30 (6 Ton boat) has a great little manual windlass and doesn't need anything else. We haul up the anchor chain by hand and sometimes use the windlass--but it is a very slow one. It's like this one:



On the other hand, our cruising boat is a 54' on deck, 29 Ton vessel; it has a 32 volt horizontal Ideal anchor windlass to haul up its 600' of 1/2" bbb chain and 3 anchors all that weigh more than 100 lbs. The previous owner was paranoid about his ground tackle, so yes, 600' of 1/2" bbb....well, according to the Ideal representative, our windlass can only haul up 200' at a time without overheating. Also, a 12 volt windlass may not suffice for many cruising boats--it depends on what you're using for ground tackle. You may require 24 volt, hydraulic, or even 32 volts.

My husband is rigging up a compressed air "cooling" system for the windlass motor to extend its capability (we're shooting for 300' LOL...) and I'm looking around for a more suitable windlass for our situation if this one doesn't seem to work out ok once the boat is re-launched. Our windlass does have a manual setting, but it would be very, very slow! Our windlass is a hefty thing pretty much like this one



What I've found in my search for something to haul all that chain easily is a "primary" fast manual windlass that is a bronze cast manual windlass (Lunenburg Foundry style with two handles with large mechanical advantage and quick anchor retrieval) that can have any windlass motor mounted underdeck to operate the windlass with a chain drive. I just saw this same anchor windlass installed on a cruising boat similar to my own--they've been using it with 7/16" chain w/o a motor (manual only) while cruising for the past 5 years in the (north and south) Pacific Ocean. They're just now putting an electric motor onto it. And, I know of another owner of a 25 Ton cruising boat with the same manual windlass in place. They've been cruising all over the world for the past 15 years and don't feel a need for an electric motor. I do believe one needs the electric motor--it makes for less stress when getting off anchor quickly. We'd still be limited to whatever the motor could give us, but since we mount the motor under-deck, we have more flexibility in getting a different motor and gearing to pull up the chain. I see this type of manual windlass as the "primary" and the use of the electric motor as backup for when one is in a hurry. On a techy modern boat, this would probably be a bit strange looking, on my boat, it would be fine:



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Old 09-12-2007, 01:27 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Sailboatman View Post
Hi,

From all of your experience is it feasible to use a manual windlass or are the 12 volt models the only way to go?

The cost of the manual models is so much less that i would like to go that way.

I have just found out the hard way that pulling up and anchor and chain by hand in a windward anchorage can be difficult and dangerous.

Thanks for your thoughts.
While you certainly can get away with a manual windlass I agree that an electric is far better because:

1. In many anchorages you will drag in a poor bottom and have to go up and down with the rode several times which can be quite tiring with a manual

2. If you need to get away quickly you can't.

3. You will be kicking yourself for not spending the extra money a year from now! ...and the older you are, the worse you will feel!! (g)
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Old 09-12-2007, 02:33 AM   #12
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Our cruising boat is a 54' on deck, 29 Ton vessel; it has a 32 volt horizontal Ideal anchor windlass to haul up its 600' of 1/2" bbb chain and 3 anchors all that weigh more than 100 lbs. The previous owner was paranoid about his ground tackle, so yes, 600' of 1/2" bbb....well, according to the Ideal representative, our windlass can only haul up 200' at a time without overheating.
Based on the above, 600 ft of 1/2" bbb chain in water weighs 1,400 lb, add the weight of an anchor - lifting 3/4 ton will test any windless of the type described.

Most cruisers regard the anchor as being the most important component of ground tackle, followed by the rode. Redbopeep might like to consider a combination rode : example 75ft 1/2" bbb chain + 230ft 1" 3 strand Nylon rope.

The New Zealanders have produced a first class anchor : http://www.rocna.com/main

(we have no interests in that company)

Richard
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Old 09-12-2007, 04:16 AM   #13
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Based on the above, 600 ft of 1/2" bbb chain in water weighs 1,400 lb, add the weight of an anchor - lifting 3/4 ton will test any windless of the type described.

Most cruisers regard the anchor as being the most important component of ground tackle, followed by the rode. Redbopeep might like to consider a combination rode : example 75ft 1/2" bbb chain + 230ft 1" 3 strand Nylon rope.

The New Zealanders have produced a first class anchor : http://www.rocna.com/main

(we have no interests in that company)

Richard
The above presupposes that the windlass would actually ever be lifting the weight of all of the 600' of chain and the anchor at the same time. and the bottom lime is that this would only be the case if one were to anchor in 600' of water (not a very likely scenario, one assumes) In, say, 50' of water, the windlass shouldn't, in theory, have to lift any more than the weight of the anchor + the weight of 50' of the chain, which is rather more realistic.

As an aside, in the infamous "bumfuzzle" chronicles (which, incidentally, I enjoyed immensely), they were getting annoyed by the twists in their anchor chain, so they decided to deploy the whole lot (minus the anchor) in very deep water to let the twists untangle themselves. They then found, of course, that the total weight of their chain, free hanging in deep water, was too much for their windlass. It is easy to have a laugh about this, but it is not, in my opinion, intrinsically obvious for a less than experienced boater to foresee this predicament.
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Old 09-12-2007, 06:30 AM   #14
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The above presupposes that the windlass would actually ever be lifting the weight of all of the 600' of chain and the anchor at the same time. and the bottom lime is that this would only be the case if one were to anchor in 600' of water (not a very likely scenario, one assumes) In, say, 50' of water, the windlass shouldn't, in theory, have to lift any more than the weight of the anchor + the weight of 50' of the chain, which is rather more realistic.
Weyalan,

Quite correct,

However, Redbobpeep's post provided the following "Our cruising boat is a 54' on deck, 29 Ton vessel; it has a 32 volt horizontal Ideal anchor windlass to haul up its 600' of 1/2" bbb chain and 3 anchors all that weigh more than 100 lbs. The previous owner was paranoid about his ground tackle, so yes, 600' of 1/2" bbb....well, according to the Ideal representative, our windlass can only haul up 200' at a time without overheating."

Based on the above information, numbers worked as follows :- " 600 ft of 1/2" bbb chain in water weighs 1,400 lb, add the weight of an anchor - lifting 3/4 ton will test any windless of the type described."

Notwithstanding the above there will be times (especially in coastal seas where there are very large tidal ranges) when it will be necessary to let out additional scope.

Another example :- depth 50ft @ 7 to 1 ratio :- 50 x 7 = 350 ft plus allowance for tidal change plus weight of anchor say 80lbs. Off shore wind. Without motoring up onto the tackle, the windlass will be still be grunting to lift close to half a ton.
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