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Old 13-04-2011, 09:23   #1
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Electric Winch Accidents

I have been asked to do an article on electric winch safety. Does anyone know of any stories about injuries related to the use of electric winches? This is related to an incident in Antigua last March where a woman lost her hand while hoisting her husband up the mast. Any information on that accident or any other would be appreciated. I will be glad to share what I learn.
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Old 13-04-2011, 09:35   #2
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Re: Electric winches accidents?

Freak Accident in Antigua
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Old 13-04-2011, 09:44   #3
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Re: Electric winches accidents?

Thanks Gord I should have done a search first. But would still like to hear of other incidents that others may have first hand knowledge of.
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Old 13-04-2011, 11:09   #4
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Re: Electric winches accidents?

I had an accident.

I was working on the bow which entailed using the handle (a winch handle). The piece of equipment was later tensioned on the electrical winch but we forgot about the winch handle (poor synchro btw me and the owner, not the winches fault ;-)) so I had to go to the bow to take the handle out of the equipment. I did. But just as I was releasing it I noticed that the whole thing was still under pressure from the winch. The handle turned round once and gave me a hook on the chin. I was nearly knocked down.

So to say it is easy to forget things are under tension and a lot of it - when we use electric and hydraulic winches.

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Old 13-04-2011, 12:33   #5
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Re: Electric winches accidents?

here is my story on CF from last year. Happy to report that I made a 100% recovery

Involuntarily Singlehanded
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Old 13-04-2011, 13:00   #6
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Re: Electric winches accidents?

I have nothing to tell about electric winches, but having seen some fairly experienced sailors (and sensible people to boot) putting their hands too close to winches, taking raps around their hands, not using cleats properly and so on; I would be totally against ever having an electric winch on a boat.
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Old 13-04-2011, 13:08   #7
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Re: Electric winches accidents?

If you want a first-hand account of an incident with an electric Windlass, contact Susan Pogel, Owner of Womanship. She lost at least part of one of her digits in an accident some years ago, while teaching abroad.
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Old 13-04-2011, 13:33   #8
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Re: Electric winches accidents?

We have 98 3 speed electric winches and we are extremely cautious around them. When I haul my wife to the top of the rig the electric only has 2 wraps and I use a second non powered winch for a safety. The halyard on the electric is never in the jaws and can be let go if the winch fails open. We have ripped gear off the mast with the electrics when something hangs. It is VERY EASY to break things with them.

One other note: they are turned off the moment we are done sailing.
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Old 13-04-2011, 13:38   #9
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Re: Electric winches accidents?

Quote:
Originally Posted by witzgall View Post
If you want a first-hand account of an incident with an electric Windlass, contact Susan Pogel, Owner of Womanship. She lost at least part of one of her digits in an accident some years ago, while teaching abroad.
You can also talk to my wife, who lost pieces of 2 digits on a friend's windlass.
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Old 13-04-2011, 13:57   #10
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Re: Electric Winch Accidents

Winches, electric or otherwise can be a razor in a monkeys paw if they are not afforded due care and respect. I watched as a helper was running the manual mast stepping crane at the club being bent like a bow as the head of the mast was caught under the edge of the dock. I yelled out to him before any permanent damage was done. It was a case of the operator watching the winch drum while ignoring the load being lifted.
You need to keep your head on a swivel when working with any equipment that can exert that kind of power.
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Old 13-04-2011, 15:16   #11
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Re: Electric Winch Accidents

i had an incident with my muir cougar electric winch, after we had anchored i noticed that the chain wasnt in the bow fitting properly as i grabbed a hand full of chain and heaved it up wards i lent on the deck switch which resulted in my hand being drawn towards the chain gypsy i wasnt quite quick enough and lost a bit of skin it could have been alot worse ,as a result one rule now is to always ensure that the deck switch cover is in place at all times apart from when in use ,we tell each other off if we see the cover left open i was lucky to only get away with losing a bit of skin it could have turned out alot differently -cheers andy
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Old 13-04-2011, 15:21   #12
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Re: Electric Winch Accidents

Winches are dangerous enough. Couldn't imagine using electrical or hydraulic power on top of it. Seems like working under the hood with the engine running.

Get lower gears, do more pullups, or both.
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Old 13-04-2011, 15:57   #13
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Re: Electric Winch Accidents

Wouldn't you rather invest in a sweet grinding podium? That would be more fun than electric or hydraulic winches!
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Old 13-04-2011, 16:26   #14
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Re: Electric Winch Accidents

I personally would not want a foot switch for an electric windlass. When using them on other people's boats I find that no matter how hard I try to stay away from the thing, or no matter how much I tell other people to be careful, one of us inadvertantly steps on the switch at the wrong moment fairly frequently. It just seems like a system waiting to cause a tragedy. I have also heard of switches failing in such a way that all the anchor chain was let out over the bow as the crew was either asleep, ashore, or sailing.
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Old 14-04-2011, 09:47   #15
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Re: Electric winches accidents?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Saucy Sailoress View Post

I would be totally against ever having an electric winch on a boat.
Yep. Unless it is a big boat. Then you would be totally for.

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