Author: Boat Accessories Australia Date Posted: 7 September 2018
If you have retrieved a few anchors in your time, you’ll know the value of an anchor winch. Every boat owner has their reasons for installing a winch; it can save your back and reduce the chance of falling overboard, allows you to change your boat’s position multiple times in a fishing trip and can help you leave in a hurry if necessary.
But an anchor winch will only be a valuable piece of equipment if you choose the right one. Consider how much space you have available on your boat, the weight of your anchor, length of your anchor rode and what capacity a winch will need to have in order to lift your anchor and rode.
The ability of an anchor to hold will depend upon the the design & shape of the anchor, the composition of the seabed material and the weight of the chain on the anchor. Make sure you have the correct anchor for your boat length before looking at a winch.
For large boats carrying heavy anchors that are impossible to retrieve by hand, an anchor winch is a necessity. Skippers of smaller boats have a choice to lift anchor themselves or let an anchor winch do the heavy lifting. Here are some of the benefits of using a winch:
With three different types of anchor winches and many sizes, it can be complicated choosing the right winch. But if you know the answers to the following questions you will be well on your way to selecting the correct size winch.
There are three kinds of anchor winches available:
A windlass anchor winch has the rope and chain rotate vertically over a winch which is in a horizontal position. The horizontal windlass has a 90-degree wrap of the anchor rode around a chainwheel. This anchor winch pulls the anchor rode in and stores it in an anchor well/storage locker.
The capstan anchor winch rotates the anchor line horizontally around a winch which stands in an upright position. Also known as a vertical windlass, there is a 180-degree wrap of the anchor rode around the chainwheel.
The hard work of a winch is completed by a gypsy that hauls the anchor’s rope and chain in and out of the water. The gypsy is designed to fit one or more diameter of the line (three strand, eight strand or twelve strand construction) and specific types of chain. This anchor winch also stores the anchor rode in an anchor well or storage locker.
A drum anchor winch gathers all the rope and chain on a drum, which means it is ideal for vessels which have no anchor well/storage locker to gather the rope & chain in so it can be mounted anywhere where the winch has a direct line pull over the bow roller.
Drum winches can be limited by the amount of rope and chain that can be contained on the drum. To obtain extra length, you can use thinner (smaller diameter) rope with higher breaking strain. This will increase the length of rope that can be stored on the drum, however it needs to be selected carefully for safety reasons. It is also more expensive so can increase the overall cost.
Drum winches release the anchor rode very quickly and pull it in equally fast.
Deciding which anchor winch to choose depends on the following five factors:
The boat must be fitted with a bow spit or bow roller to correctly house the anchor when it has been retrieved. Without this, serious damage can be caused to the boat when the anchor is retrieved.
An anchor and chain take up space, and before deciding on an anchor winch, you need to determine how much space you have available.
One type of anchor winch needs far more space below deck than the other. Vertical windlass winches (shown in the upper part of the below image) have the capstan and gypsy above the deck with the motor and gearbox below deck. Horizontal windlass winches (shown in the lower part of the below image) are installed entirely above deck so are better suited to boats that only have enough room for the anchor chain below deck.
The depth of the fall of the rode (the line or chain connected to the anchor) into the locker should also be considered. A minimum 400mm fall is recommended. As a general rule, this will accommodate 50m of rope with 10m of chain attached or 60m of chain only. This may vary however depending on the shape of the bow, which differs from boat to boat.
Image courtesy of Quick SPA
If the anchor winch is too weak for the load, you are at risk of it not working when you need it most. Before installation, check that the anchor winch is strong enough to retrieve the rope, chain and anchor required to hold your boat. The required working load of the winch is its capacity to lift the entire length of rope & chain plus the anchor, when all is wholly suspended off the ocean floor.
Know the length and approximate weight of your anchor rode before purchasing your anchor winch. Most anchor winches will provide recommended chain, rope and boat lengths to ensure all components are suitable for the winch. You can either buy a winch to suit your current anchor setup or change your anchor setup to suit the winch.
The links in the chain also need consideration. Long and regular link chains shouldn’t be used with anchor windlasses. The right size and grade of the chain are required to ensure it is compatible with the gypsy. Chainwheel problems occur when there is a mismatch. The chain can jump off the gypsy or become jammed.
All anchor winches require a special chain, which is called short-link chain (general-link chains will not work in an anchor winch).
When using a combination of rope & chain on an anchor winch, you will need to use specific types of rope. Choices are nylon or polyester. Silver rope will not work in an anchor winch because it won’t grip in the jaws and will slip.
In shallow water, the average anchor rode required is 10m chain and 50m rope. For deep water, the average anchor rode required is 20m chain and 100m rope. The most basic anchor rode setup connects the anchor to the nylon anchor line. However, this is only appropriate for small boats. Larger boats of 40-foot should use an all-chain anchor rode. But even if you are using an all-chain rode, it’s essential to have some nylon at the boat end which can be cut in an emergency to free the boat from the anchor.
It is important in all instances to have a swivel between the anchor and the chain. If you do not have this, when retrieving the anchor it will spin and tie the rope in knots, which means it can’t pass through the winch.
Boat Accessories Australia recommend the following popular and reliable brands:
The Viper Pro S Series RAPID Drum Anchor Winch Bundle has 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.
The Quick DP2 Series 300w is a high-quality winch suitable for boats between 5-7.5 metres in length and the Quick DP2 Series 500w is ideal for boats from 5-9 metres. For 7-12 metre boats there is the Quick DP2 Series 700w and 8-13 metre boats may be best off using the Quick DP2 Series 1000w. See the Specifications tab for more information on each product.
If you’re looking for a horizontal anchor winch, we’d suggest considering:
Quick GP2 1200 Series Horizontal Windlass - for boats 6-9m in length
Quick GP2 1500 Series Horizontal Windlass - for boats 6-10m in length
Quick GP2 2000 Series Horizontal Windlass - for boats 8-10m in length
Need some assistance choosing the right anchor winch for your boat? Call us at Boat Accessories Australia on 1300 308 161 or contact us online.
AppreciateBy: Wooden Ship Kit - Ages Of Sail on 19 October 2020That's really nice post. I appreciate your skills. Thanks for sharing
Boat anchor motorBy: Jason Saunders on 21 September 2020Have a 5.8mt Southwind and looking to maybe put on a anchor motor to suit up to 40mt of water depth.
What do you recommend?
And full set up?
Will probably need fitting and roller for nose of boat.
Boat Accessories Australia Response
Hi Jason, and thanks for your question.
My colleague Adam is on the phone with you now assisting with your queries.