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Old 19-08-2015, 22:01   #1
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Anyone electrified a jib winch?

We just bought a Belize and are thinking of upgrading the starboard winch. The boat yard yards are nervous without seeing photos of an example of a similar boat that has done this work. Any photos would be really helpful!
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Old 20-08-2015, 05:45   #2
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Re: Anyone electrified a jib winch?

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Originally Posted by Eve Carlson View Post
We just bought a Belize and are thinking of upgrading the starboard winch. The boat yard yards are nervous without seeing photos of an example of a similar boat that has done this work. Any photos would be really helpful!
I recently saw pictures of an inside port winch on a Belize upgraded with a motor (I didn't keep the link, sorry). It appeared to cause a huge obstacle in the ceiling above the port steps down to the hull. It looked like you would be ducking under it going up and down. The outside winch may not be as bad, but I would suggest careful investigation is required before spending the $$. Build a cardboard box the same size of the motor and hang it from the underside of the winch to see what it would look like.
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Old 20-08-2015, 08:54   #3
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Re: Anyone electrified a jib winch?

Thanks DotDun. The motor will hang down, and we are planning to move the starboard winch to the right, so that it hangs further down the little flight of stairs and allows headroom for at least 6 feet. But that is a great idea to model in cardboard to make sure before drilling! That should help calm our nerves about this somewhat risky modification.
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Old 20-08-2015, 08:59   #4
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Re: Anyone electrified a jib winch?

For a quick and easy way to 'electrify' winches, a good friend of mine bought a powerful electric cordless drill with a 90-degree fitting for a winch on it. It can be used with any winch on board, but does of course require someone to hold it and take it in and out of the winch handle socket. I'd also be skeptical about using it in heavy seas if it's likely to get covered in salt water. He uses it mainly for halyards and i have to say it makes life very easy indeed!
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Old 20-08-2015, 09:24   #5
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Re: Anyone electrified a jib winch?

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For a quick and easy way to 'electrify' winches, a good friend of mine bought a powerful electric cordless drill with a 90-degree fitting for a winch on it. It can be used with any winch on board, but does of course require someone to hold it and take it in and out of the winch handle socket. I'd also be skeptical about using it in heavy seas if it's likely to get covered in salt water. He uses it mainly for halyards and i have to say it makes life very easy indeed!
I've got the same, a 28v Milwaukee. I only use it to raise the main, then it's back in the cockpit or inside. I've always intended to make a neoprene cover for it, more for physical protection of it and deck. If I ever get around to making that cover, it would at least deflect spray but certainly not water proof it. The battery will raise the main 3-4 times between charging, hence a day or two worth.

Much cheaper than an electric winch, more flexible as it will work with any winch on-board (admiral uses it sometimes to raise the dinghy). But, it's not weather resistant or connected to the house bank full-time. Hence, it serves a purpose, YMMV!
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Old 20-08-2015, 09:52   #6
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Re: Anyone electrified a jib winch?

I electrified my Beneteau 52 stbd winch a couple of years ago in Tortola BVI before setting out for the big circle Im now in Curacao. Anyway I bought a Harken 46 from Defender for around $4k. Then while in the US I hooked it all up switches and all in my Garage to a 12 V battery and made sure everything was working right. Then I took it with me to Tortola where I had to go buy a plug in Drill and the right circular saw blade about 6 inch diameter I think then got to work. Everything was installed where the old 44 harken was situated. The motor is vertically installed and I had a local guy at Moorings base make me a fiberglass cover. Everything is working fine still but make sure your breaker is the correct Amp (min2 is 100Amp). Also when you run it with load make sure your engine is running otherwise you'll blow the breaker. I use it to lift the Main (very heavy at the last 10 feet or so for manual), the dingy, and my a-s up the mast. Plan and execute. Good luck
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Old 20-08-2015, 10:26   #7
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Re: Anyone electrified a jib winch?

Thanks, DotDon and DefinitelyMe. We considered the Milwaukee or similar, but have very little room under the bimini on the starboard side. Also seems awkward to change the jib sheets as you'd have to move the drill each time. And at chest height, that would be hard for me as I seem to have some kind of arthritis or tendonitis in both thumb joints and surgical repairs in both shoulders. So I am wary of further injury if I heave around a heavy drill at chest height. After the amount we just paid for the boat, this expense, while pretty punishing, seems worth it to us in order to be able to really enjoy the sailing.
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Old 20-08-2015, 13:40   #8
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Re: Anyone electrified a jib winch?

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Originally Posted by Eve Carlson View Post
Thanks, DotDon and DefinitelyMe. We considered the Milwaukee or similar, but have very little room under the bimini on the starboard side. Also seems awkward to change the jib sheets as you'd have to move the drill each time. And at chest height, that would be hard for me as I seem to have some kind of arthritis or tendonitis in both thumb joints and surgical repairs in both shoulders. So I am wary of further injury if I heave around a heavy drill at chest height. After the amount we just paid for the boat, this expense, while pretty punishing, seems worth it to us in order to be able to really enjoy the sailing.
Electric winches provide a solution for various use cases, it sounds like you have found such a use case!

I will point out that my experience with both Harken and Lewmar electric winches on friends boats has proven that a human wielding a 12" winch handle is more powerful than the electric motor on the same winch. Electric works fine to raise a main when pointed into the wind. But I've seen them stop dead adjusting a genoa sheet in 20kts of wind.

I don't have any physical ailments (yet) that stop me from exerting lots of energy in 'small' bursts around the boat. I find raising the main to test that limit on 'small', hence I use the portable drill mentioned earlier (along with the occasional manual method when "someone" forgets to charge the drill battery!!). As far as sheets, even the admiral handles them manually. When we tack, the genoa sheet doesn't require more than 1 or 2 rounds of the winch handle to trim the sail, it's all in the timing! The main sheet has enough purchase in it, it's even less of a load on the body.

And yes, you have to be standing on the highest most place in order to exert lots of energy into the winch.

I encourage trial and testing before making major changes. There is no right or wrong, just make sure the problem is real and solution can solve the problem before spending the $$.

Good Luck!
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Old 20-08-2015, 13:58   #9
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Re: Anyone electrified a jib winch?

Having had electric winches on two boats for a combined 50winch-years I have never had an issue with them. Obviously there is the initial expense, but in my experience they are almost completely trouble free if installed correctly.

At least modern electric winches have a safety cutoff that turns off the winch in the event the load reaches the SWL of the winch itself. If you are seeing this regularly then you have bigger issues than the winch stopping working. Either a bigger winch is called for, or switching to a 2:1 on the sheets.

Personaly I am a huge fan of them, but the first place i would recommend them is not a sheet winch, but the halyard winch. But I don't think there is a right or wrong, just personal preference.
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Old 20-08-2015, 14:44   #10
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Re: Anyone electrified a jib winch?

Thanks, DotDon. You make a lot of compelling arguments for waiting and seeing. Very good point that the primary use might well be raising the main, which we could do with a drill. What is preying on my mind is the sight of a very large, strong yacht broker hauling in a 140% genoa in a brisk wind. It looks like he was working pretty hard, and I weigh about half as much and probably have half the upper body strength. We sail on the San Francisco Bay and plan to berth at a marina that is in a particularly windy location. So windy that a harbor staff person at another marina told me that he used to keep his boat there, but it was too terrifying for people when he'd take them out sailing. So we are not thinking we need the electric help for ocean voyages, but maybe to manage the boat for routine day sailing. We do have experience sailing in the same locations/conditions with our current boat, which is a 30-foot monohull, and winching to tack with it's relatively small jib is already pushing my admittedly low strength limit. So these are the reasons that we think we need an electric winch for jib sheets.

That is troubling that you've seen an electric winch stop dead in adjusting a genoa in 20 kts of wind. Could that winch have been too small? Have something wrong with it? Has anyone else had a problem with such a wimpy electric on their own boat?
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Old 20-08-2015, 15:02   #11
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Re: Anyone electrified a jib winch?

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Originally Posted by Eve Carlson View Post

That is troubling that you've seen an electric winch stop dead in adjusting a genoa in 20 kts of wind. Could that winch have been too small? Have something wrong with it? Has anyone else had a problem with such a wimpy electric on their own boat?
As i mentioned if an electric winch stops it means the winch has hit its maximum SWL so the motor cuts out as a safety. They are built with an override system that measures the load on the winch (I assume via current draw) and turns off the motor to prevent the winch from breaking.

If this is happening in 20kn of breeze then either the winch is seriously undersized or there is too much sail area up.
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Old 20-08-2015, 15:18   #12
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Re: Anyone electrified a jib winch?

If it proves too cumbersome to electrify your current winch, you could consider an Anderson electric winch. One of their models has the motor incorporated in the base so that nothing needs to penetrate the deck except the cables. Makes a very tidy installation, and the Anderson winches are IMO the best around these days.

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Old 20-08-2015, 16:40   #13
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Re: Anyone electrified a jib winch?

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If it proves too cumbersome to electrify your current winch, you could consider an Anderson electric winch. One of their models has the motor incorporated in the base so that nothing needs to penetrate the deck except the cables. Makes a very tidy installation, and the Anderson winches are IMO the best around these days.

Jim
Thanks, Jim. The Anderson winch is definitely a thing of beauty and would make installation a lot less troublesome, but as we are replacing a 48, the closest size would be a 52, which sells for a whopping $6500. Then again, I guess we'd save on the cost of the hours to manufacture and install a custom box below deck. So I guess it is worth asking how much time that would require. We got an initial "guesstimate" for running the electrical, installation, making and installing box to cover the motor of $3000. Not including the winch! So if much of that is for the box, maybe the Anderson is a better deal that it appears at first!
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Old 20-08-2015, 20:00   #14
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Re: Anyone electrified a jib winch?

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Originally Posted by Eve Carlson View Post
That is troubling that you've seen an electric winch stop dead in adjusting a genoa in 20 kts of wind. Could that winch have been too small? Have something wrong with it? Has anyone else had a problem with such a wimpy electric on their own boat?
The electric winches I experienced that were, IMO, wimpy were a Harken on a Leopard 39 (don't remember the size, but at least a 42, probably a 46) and Lewmar EVO 45 (I think) on a Leopard 44. Both are the winches delivered from the Leopard factory.

Again, they raised the main, groaned on the last 15%, but got the job done. You can stop both with the genoa full of wind.
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Old 20-08-2015, 20:27   #15
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Re: Anyone electrified a jib winch?

I did a delivery on a Davidson 55 from Aus to NZ years ago. It had Electric Primaries. However, even though we had a steady 20 knots much of the time, we rarely used the electric motors as we needed to conserve power. So whats the point? One might ask.

One could also argue the health benefits of manually grinding.
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