Author: Boat Accessories Australia Date Posted: 25 October 2017
Some boaters wouldn’t go to sea without an electric anchor winch while others prefer to do the heavy lifting themselves. But an anchor winch takes the hard work out of laying and retrieving your anchor particularly in choppy seas or after a hard day of fishing.
Once you’ve used an electric winch, few people will go back to pulling the anchor manually for a number of reasons including:
Less strain – the weight and exertion of laying and retrieving an anchor by hand can cause injuries.
Boat Position – a quick anchor retrieval means you can try more sites and make small changes to rope length once the anchor has been laid to position your boat exactly where you want it. Bridle rigging is difficult to do manually particularly when the wind is blowing in the opposite direction, but an anchor winch allows you to make changes from the helm to get the boat to hang in the direction of the tide. No more tangled fishing lines.
Safety – if the weather turns or you find your boat on the lee shore at night, with the press of a few buttons you can recover your boat from a potentially dangerous situation even when you’re on your own.
When deciding on the right anchor winch consider the following points:
Marine grade components (high-grade stainless steel and anodised alloy finishes)
Australian manufactured not just designed
Good servicing & support
When you are deciding on the type of electric winch, you need to consider what it can lift and at what speed. Before you make your purchase look at:
1. Working load of the winch – the maximum initial pull of the winch (short-term load)
2. Maximum pull capacity – load on the winch once the anchor is off the ground
The ground tackle weight is calculated by adding the anchor weight to the chain weight and the rope weight for the total ground tackle.
Safety guidelines recommend that the pulling capacity shouldn’t be less than three times the weight of the ground tackle. So to calculate the maximum pull you need, take your ground tackle weight and multiply by three.
A windlass will go through a number of operation phases to break an anchor out of the seabed. Each phase has a different retrieval speed and working load with the peak load during the anchor breakout phase.
There are two main types of anchor winches – vertical and horizontal.
The older style capstan rotates the anchor line horizontally around a winch which stands in an upright position. A windlass has the rope and chain rotate vertically over a winch which is in a horizontal position.
The vertical windlass has a 180-degree wrap of the anchor rode around the chainwheel while horizontal windlasses have a 90-degree wrap of the rode around the chainwheel.
A vertical winch requires less space on the deck and is easier to maintain than horizontal winches. Vertical models are also more flexible and less obtrusive plus with a capstan fitted on top, there’s even more flexibility. Verticals have more chain in contact with the chainwheel so chain jump is less likely during retrieval. The line pull can be in any direction on the warping drum but for horizontals, it must be fore and aft. They are also less expensive than horizontal models. For these reasons, vertical windlass make up the majority of sales.
Horizontal winches are ideal on boats that have limited below deck space, poor accessibility or the thickness of the deck is more than 200mm. With the drive shaft on a horizontal plane, it is usually housed in a self-contained above deck mounted unit. When the anchor rode enters the gypsy, it turns 90 degrees and feeds into the anchor locker.
Choosing the right windlass will depend on boat length as the size of the boat increases so does the ground tackle and therefore more windlass power is needed. The weight of the boat should also be considered particularly when it’s fully laden before a voyage.
The size and style of the anchor winch you choose will also be determined by:
Available deck space
Fall of the chain from the windlass
Chain locker volume
Tight mooring situations
Ability to operate manually by inserting a winch handle
You also need to consider if there is enough power for the windlass with cabling loads, battery capacity and controls. Recent developments in windlass accessories include wireless controls, digital chain counters and automatic anchoring systems.
Some of our popular anchor winches include the Viper Pro S Series RAPID with three different sized rope and chain kits to choose from. If your boat is more than 8 metres long the Viper Pro Series II 1500 can handle hauling a 37lb anchor. The kits come with everything you need to install including wiring and instructions.
If you have any queries on the right winch for your boat, don’t hesitate to contact us on 1300 308 161 or send us an email.