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Old 24-07-2018, 16:36   #1
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Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Langkawi, Malaysia
Boat: Jay Kantola - Trimaran 65 ft by 40 ft beam
Posts: 710
Windlass: Breaker, switch, or hardwire


I didn't know I had a problem until another sailor asked about where my windlass Breaker box was. Seems he likes knowing there is a breaker to shut off power to his windlass if there is a problem.

Now the original owner and builder of my boat installed breakers and fuses everywhere on my boat accept the single device that can draw the greatest amperage.


The more I looked into this the deeper in lore I have become.

My current camp of thought is with those who say...

If you put a breaker in place that...

A. Breaker must be so large that it must handle like 135% of max motor draw at greatest strain.

B. A breaker of this size will deliver more than enough power to cause a fire before tripping if there is a fault so there is little to gain by installing it.

C. The breaker itself is a potential fire hazard as it ages and introduces new points of failure.


Still his argument is scary enough for me to think about a manual switch to allow me to cut power to the windlass. It also would be nice not to worry about ding dongs stepping on foot switches that I currently cannot de-energize.

Of course he said anything I install must be easily reached and visible which I guess means I will have to install it right in my salon at chest height with a big OSHA approved sign with redundant backlighting.


Anchor is 70kg on 100 meters of chain 3/8 chain. I am currently thinking of new 1/2 chain and dropping down to 70 meters. (I dragged 0.6nm on my last trip during a blow.)

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Old 24-07-2018, 17:02   #2
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Join Date: May 2008
Location: puɐןsuǝǝnb 'ʎɐʞɔɐɯ
Boat: Nantucket Island 33
Posts: 3,626
Re: Windlass: Breaker, switch, or hardwire

If the cabling is correctly sized, the winch breaker will trip before any risk of cable damage and fire emerges. I'd prefer a breaker to fail eventually then have the winch fail in a short circuit situation.

I use a circuit breaker/switch on the winch supply and an additional small switch to enable the contactor coil. The contactor switch disables the foot switches (and remote control if used). The breaker can be used to disable the winch for servicing, or if you're nervous in a situation with lots of salt water coming over the bow.

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Old 24-07-2018, 17:13   #3
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Join Date: Jan 2009
Boat: Tartan 37 #6
Posts: 403
Re: Windlass: Breaker, switch, or hardwire

I have a regular battery on off switch and a blue seas resettable breaker on my windlass circuit.i normally leave it switched off for safety.
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Old 27-07-2018, 23:55   #4
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Location: canada
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Re: Windlass: Breaker, switch, or hardwire

Your windlass cable should already be able to carry more then 130%. Probably more like 200%. Because it it sized for voltage drop, not current.
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wind, windlass

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