How to Use Anchor Windlass
About Anchor Windlasses
Anchor windlasses are one of the most useful boat equipment ever made. In most small boats you are manually hauling in an anchor. This way you almost always need another member of crew to help you while you steer your boat. Also rope burn and back strain are potential concerns. This changes if you own a windlass. Either manual or motor driven, windlasses make anchor retrieval simple and worry free. When you are buying a boat windlass the first thing to keep in mind is the boat size. However, there is a windlass for every anchor and rode type.
The pulling power you require from a windlass is easily computed: manufacturers advise the capacity to be three times the unloaded weight of your anchor and chain. Figure four times the unloaded weight if you favor anchoring in rocky waterways or often encounter adverse conditions.
Manual windlasses are build much like automatic ones, just that they use supplemented muscle power with mechanical advantage, a transmission. Mainly there are two types – lever-type (back and forth motion) or vertical axis (a circular winch-grinding motion). Lever-type windlasses are generally single speed, and vertical models, like sheet winches, have two speeds: a fast, low-power gear for light loads, and a slower speed with higher power and torque for when the going gets tougher.
Electric or automatic windlasses haul ground tackle aboard with a touch of a button or a step on a pedal. They are very useful because the boat captain can handle everything from the boat’s cockpit. Electric windlasses are even available with remote or roving controls for operation from the helm or wherever else you’d prefer to be. An indispensable option on either model is a self-tailing feature which takes in the slack as the line is hauled in and feeds it into the locker below deck. This way the whole anchoring procedure is automated.
Using the Windlass
Windlasses haul in the rode and lift the anchor off the bottom. Although your windlass is rated at three times the weight of your anchor and chain, the slop factor takes into account strong wind, current, and recalcitrant anchors firmly dug in. Always use your engine to power up to the anchor. If the anchor is firmly set, belay the rode, set the chain stopper, and work it out under power. Since windlasses can use between 35-200 amps under load, the running engine will help to keep the batteries topped off as well. Read more in the Sailing Lession: How To Anchor A Boat.
Read the whole article about Anchor Windlasses on the best Boat Tech site BoatUS.
Also be sure to read all the other useful sailing tips in the Sailing Lessions section of this DIY Boats Blog and find great boat accessories in 10 Things You Must Have On Your Boat or in our Boat Building Store.