We have Anchorlift winches here I haven't seen anything that makes me think they are not worth serious consideration. Haven't actually seen a dead one as yet. Simple and well made even if they don't have all the 'fruit' some others do. Then again, more fruit = more chance of problems.
Lighthouse winches I do really really like. Not at the cheap
end but very sexy. Sexy enough to justify the extra cost? In 2 minds over that really. My 'boy likes bling' side is saying 'Oh Yeah' but my wallet is saying 'get one which and a headsail for the same bucks' sort of thing.
Delmag - By 'free-fall' I mean ones like Lewmar
and Quick do. 'Automatic free fall' is probably a better way of saying it. Push the button and everything goes free falling out, push the button again and it stops. Those winches will not last long and I'd never suggest a cruiser fitting one really. We've all seen chain peeling out in free fall so imagine the loads on winch
shafts and so on when in less than one rotation of the gypsy the winch
has to stop that inertia. Nasty plus. The latest range of Lewmars with auto free fall is pretty new and already the damage count is noticable. The Quicks seem to handle it better but then they are build with bigger gear
. I still don't see them lasting as long as the normal winches though.
The other hassle with free falling is often the chain beats the anchor to the seabed and then you end up trying to anchor into your on rode, obviously not a good thing. In a weeks time I hope to have video to show exactly what I mean. We've done tested this theory before and we are about to do it again with an underwater video. Bit too hot here at the moment and this is a good way of cooling
down while semi-skiving off work
Now if we talk about 'manual release' as in you're up the front releasing the clutch
. That is different as you can and SHOULD be controlling the deployment speed. Maybe let it run faster at the start and then slow it if you're in a panic. Nothing wrong with that and far better for the winch hence also your bank account. Taking all chain rodes here as if you're on rope
go hard anyway you like really.
Manual retrieval. Unless you have a Sea Tiger
it will be an arse, sorry. Sea Tigers are designed as manual so obviously they will do it better. Powered winches are built so well they really don't need that flash a manual retrieve or so I suspect the manufacturers think. Generally they probably are right as a well looked after anchor winch doesn't break down often, it's more likely to be an outside influence that stops it working i.e battery
failure, cats eating thru wires (true story) or something else on the boat.
Some winches have good manual retrieve and some just don't. It's not brand specific as they all use very similar systems. Even one manufacturer can have bloody good on one model and rubbish on another.
But saying that some manufacturers have been working on the manual side of their winches, Maxwell
is one. Their VWC is an arse where their newer version, the Liberty, is far better. Still not spectacular but a vast improvement.
I think the key, as Delmag mentions, is winch position. Try to install the winch or other gear around it so you have room to swing manual handles. We are often playing on boat winches and we try very hard not to have to power the boat up, people have the weirdest things plugged in these days and who knows what may come to life when we turn boats on. So we manual winches very often. Generally most are bareable even if slow and hard on the body but more often than not they are positioned where a decent swing is just not available, this makes it a very pain in the rear end and a real chore.
But saying that, yet again, most manufacturers are starting to fit the new generation motors to new model (the old ones are being retro fitted as well). These new motors have a couple of good features. One being a burst of power when you need it to get the rode heading upwards. A lot of the new, say 1500W motors will actually run at 2000-2500W for a minute or so and then decrease power sucking as the load decreases. The same 1500W motor
may be only running at 500-700W but the time the anchor gets close to the boat. In this example the 1500W is more an 'average' power than in older winches where it is the maximum. These are also great of you're anchored deep as it hammers the batteries less and the motors don't get as hot as fast so can run longer without thermal build up issues.
Secondly these new motors will go backwards a lot faster. Some are running an 40mts/min during deployment. FYI Neven, Anchorlift was one of the 1st to use the fast deployment motors. The motors coming up at pretty standard speeds (15-25mts/min) but deploy at twice that. Not all new winches have these motors as yet but I suspect they will soon be standard equipment
as there is bugger all in the price
and they just are a damn good bit of thinking.
In our eyes these fast deploy winches are far far superior to the free fall option. The rode is controlled as it goes out and at a speed the anchor usually (Fortress's 'fly' away and usually lose the race
) wins the race
to the seabed. And all at the same time less winch stress from sudden stops.
Right, as I've just come back from a 50ml single
handed yacht racing
in a big breeze I must go and pass out somewhere followed by finding some small lady with good toes to wonder up and down my spine to get the kinks out. Digest that lot and feel free to tell me what I've forgotten, there's bound to be something