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Old 20-06-2015, 09:34   #1
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Windlass. Powered through engine or service batteries?

Anchor Windlasses appear to be mostly connected so that the engine has to be running before you can use it.. This seems counter- intuitive since one of the first safety options on engine failure, is to drop the anchor.. And getting it up will not be easy if the engine still doesn't work.. How have members wired their windlasses??
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Old 20-06-2015, 09:55   #2
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Re: Windlass. Powered through engine or service batteries?

It is silly to require the engine to running to power the windlass. (Unless you are wiring a charter boat then it discourages the charterers anchoring, or pulling up the anchor, unless the engine is running. Probably a good move )

This is usually easy to alter so the windlass will run independently of the engine operation.

Note: This is not the same as running the windlass via the start or service battery. The windlass can run via the start battery, but still operate when the engine is off, or the windlass can run off the house battery and be isolated unless the engine is running.
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Old 20-06-2015, 11:11   #3
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Re: Windlass. Powered through engine or service batteries?

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Originally Posted by Jonathancpwalsh View Post
Anchor Windlasses appear to be mostly connected so that the engine has to be running before you can use it.. This seems counter- intuitive since one of the first safety options on engine failure, is to drop the anchor.. And getting it up will not be easy if the engine still doesn't work.. How have members wired their windlasses??
I think you're on the right track. I've always disliked the charter boat "feature" that requires the engine be running to operate the windlass. I've wired mine to be available anytime that battery master switch is on. On a side note, it's a useful thing to know how to release the gypsy to allow the anchor to free fall and to have the fitting or tool required to do so in a handy place.
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Old 20-06-2015, 11:52   #4
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Re: Windlass. Powered through engine or service batteries?

The only way that I can see requiring the engine to be running, in order to operate the windlass, is if you have a hydraulically powered unit. In which case, I'd also want a backup pump for the windlass mounted seperately, on a generator. Thus, you have a "2-layered" power system for handling the anchor.

And with an electric windlass, as already stated, you should have things setup so that as long as there's juice in any of the electrical storage systems onboard, then you can run the windlass. As in an emergency, you may even need to be able to pull juice from the engine starting battery (bank) to run it.

Also, rig up a pair of chain hooks on lines long enough to lead back to the primary winches/aft most blocks in the cockpit. Thus, you have a 2nd, exteemely viable, manual backup for raising the anchor. Especially as with your primaries, you have several different gears to match to the load on your ground tackle, for raising it.

For example, on my last boat (I'm sans boat @ the moment), I had 4, Barient 736 self tailers in the cockpit. So I could gear down & theoretically get an 80:1 power ratio in low gear. With 2 faster gears in addition, for pulling up the hook "by hand".
- Plus, the big perk was, that it was 35' from the aft most turning block to the stem. So that with each length of line with a chain hook, I could pull in a good length of rode aboard (10m+) before switching to the winch & line with chain hook on the opposite side of the boat.
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Old 20-06-2015, 12:19   #5
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Re: Windlass. Powered through engine or service batteries?

never had one that required the engine running. Are there really many boats set up like that? I've never been on one. How would that be done? Some kind of solenoid switch that only activates when the alternator is putting out I suppose...
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Old 20-06-2015, 13:28   #6
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Re: Windlass. Powered through engine or service batteries?

When I am hauling or deploying my anchor my boat is normally moving at the least a little, So I always run my engine so I can propel the boat as needed or move as necessary. Why would I want to discharge my battery that much. I would never pull my boat forward on battery power alone Imoho a bad practice.

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Old 20-06-2015, 14:00   #7
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Re: Windlass. Powered through engine or service batteries?

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Originally Posted by Badsanta View Post
When I am hauling or deploying my anchor my boat is normally moving at the least a little, So I always run my engine so I can propel the boat as needed or move as necessary. Why would I want to discharge my battery that much. I would never pull my boat forward on battery power alone Imoho a bad practice.
Ditto. When deploying, the motors are probably running as you've just arrived. And typically back down on the anchor after everything is set. When retrieving, the motors are started to move forward slowly so that the windlass works less, provides maximum electric power to the system thru the motor alternators, and you likely want the motors on when the anchor gets to the deck anyway. Usually then the salt water washdown pump is being used, which is another reason to have the alternators juicing the system.
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Old 20-06-2015, 14:26   #8
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Re: Windlass. Powered through engine or service batteries?

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Originally Posted by Cheechako View Post
never had one that required the engine running. Are there really many boats set up like that? I've never been on one. How would that be done? Some kind of solenoid switch that only activates when the alternator is putting out I suppose...

It's activated by the oil pressure switch. Yes there are many new boats like that.


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Old 20-06-2015, 15:32   #9
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Re: Windlass. Powered through engine or service batteries?

Guys, while having the engines running when anchoring is pretty much SOP, & common, it's a Luxury. Recall that we're talking about sailboats here, & one of their nice features, assuming that you learned how, & stay practiced, is the ability to sail onto & off of the anchor.

Having said feature for me is fun, not to mention a backup/safety thing. As is sailing in close quarters, into & out of slips, etc. And I've done plenty of it, including in engineless boats, up to 40 tons.
Being able to handle one's vessel via sail power, in almost any/every condition is the way things shoutd be, IMO.

Why purposefully be engine dependent? Even though I'll confess they're Incredibly nice to have.
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Old 20-06-2015, 16:31   #10
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Re: Windlass. Powered through engine or service batteries?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonathancpwalsh View Post
Anchor Windlasses appear to be mostly connected so that the engine has to be running before you can use it.. This seems counter- intuitive since one of the first safety options on engine failure, is to drop the anchor.. And getting it up will not be easy if the engine still doesn't work.. How have members wired their windlasses??
Ours will run anytime but we prefer to run the engine.
Windlass, anchor & chain are monster & use a lot of amps.
With the engine running, there is no doubt we will be able to move the boat & keep it safe as the anchor is released - no surprises.

This is good logic for us at 35 tons. A smaller boat & may not find these issues so critical.
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Old 20-06-2015, 23:58   #11
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Re: Windlass. Powered through engine or service batteries?

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Originally Posted by Badsanta View Post
Why would I want to discharge my battery that much.
You do not need to be overly concerned about the electricity consumption. A typical windlass will have an average draw of around 60A during normal retrieval. With a retrieval time of 4 minutes this is 4 AHrs. In terms of current draw 60A for a 400AHr battery bank is C6 discharge rate, which will not overly tax a healthy battery bank. The actual effect on battery SOC will be higher than these numbers suggest due to Peukert's equation, but it will still only a small fraction of the typical daily consumption.

There is no need to fear, from an electrical point of view, operating the windlass without the engine running.

It is always a good idea to motor, or sail up to the anchor to relieve the pressure on the anchor winch where possible. However, a good powerful anchor winch can cope, or should be able to cope, pulling the boat up in at least moderate conditions in an emergency.

It is also worth understanding that if you are dragging, there is not much force on the anchor chain and it can be retrieved even by a less powerful anchor winch without moving forward to remove the pressure. If the anchor suddenly catches on rock or similar the force can become very high. The clutch should be set to to provide some give if this occurs.

As has been pointed out, many new boats are wired so that the windlass will run only when the motor is running. Although sometimes having the engine ignition on will work even if the engine is not actually running. Many modern cats are even more stupidly wired and the windlass will only work with one particular engine running (say the port engine). Madness.

Dragging is the most common emergency and if your engine will not start this is not the time to have the added complication of the windlass not working.

It is also handy to be able to adjust the anchor rode length without starting the engine.
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Old 21-06-2015, 00:54   #12
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Re: Windlass. Powered through engine or service batteries?

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Originally Posted by noelex 77 View Post
It is always a good idea to motor, or sail up to the anchor to relieve the pressure on the anchor winch where possible.
I find that in up to moderate conditions I can use the windlass to take up the slack or chain weight then stop when the windlass starts to stress a little. Between the chain weight and momentum gained, the chain slackens and I start winching again.

Solo and motoring up to the anchor can be good exercise running up and down deck

I don't need the motor, but I always have it on when using the windlass, except for when making adjustments. Mine uses the starter battery.
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Old 21-06-2015, 01:37   #13
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Re: Windlass. Powered through engine or service batteries?

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Mine uses the starter battery.
Mine is wired to the starter battery as well. I couple the house and start banks (if the voltage and SOC of the house bank is reasonable) when I want to operate the windlass without the motor.
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Old 21-06-2015, 03:39   #14
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Re: Windlass. Powered through engine or service batteries?

Quote:
Originally Posted by noelex 77 View Post
You do not need to be overly concerned about the electricity consumption. A typical windlass will have an average draw of around 60A during normal retrieval. With a retrieval time of 4 minutes this is 4 AHrs. In terms of current draw 60A for a 400AHr battery bank is C6 discharge rate, which will not overly tax a healthy battery bank. The actual effect on battery SOC will be higher than these numbers suggest due to Peukert's equation, but it will still only a small fraction of the typical daily consumption.

There is no need to fear, from an electrical point of view, operating the windlass without the engine running.

It is always a good idea to motor, or sail up to the anchor to relieve the pressure on the anchor winch where possible. However, a good powerful anchor winch can cope, or should be able to cope, pulling the boat up in at least moderate conditions in an emergency.

It is also worth understanding that if you are dragging, there is not much force on the anchor chain and it can be retrieved even by a less powerful anchor winch without moving forward to remove the pressure. If the anchor suddenly catches on rock or similar the force can become very high. The clutch should be set to to provide some give if this occurs.

As has been pointed out, many new boats are wired so that the windlass will run only when the motor is running. Although sometimes having the engine ignition on will work even if the engine is not actually running. Many modern cats are even more stupidly wired and the windlass will only work with one particular engine running (say the port engine). Madness.

Dragging is the most common emergency and if your engine will not start this is not the time to have the added complication of the windlass not working.

It is also handy to be able to adjust the anchor rode length without starting the engine.
My windlass needs up to 180 amps of power at 24 volts. The engine interlock is intended to prevent melting it down due to voltage sag.

I also hate this, but I'm not sure that disabling the interlock would be safe, either, which is why I haven't done it.

For emergency anchoring, my plan is to use the manual release. Winch handle in the windlass clutch. Or, more likely, throw out the Fortress kedge, which is always ready in the anchor locker. The Fortress is much more likely to set in an emergency situation where you don't have control over how the anchor goes into the seabed. The Fortress is the only anchor I know which will set in soft mud when the boat is moving.



All that being said, I do not like my windlass and don't recommend it (Lewmar Ocean 3). Fishing-boat type horizontal windlasses with band brakes and a manual lifting device are much better and much easier and safer to operate in an emergency, than leisure-type sleek vertical ones.
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Old 21-06-2015, 04:06   #15
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Re: Windlass. Powered through engine or service batteries?

Usually when I use the Maxwell windlass the engine is running... This is when I motor to the spot I will anchor... or when I am about to leave an anchorage. I don't do either of these under sail.

On the other hand the batteries... house bank are more than adequate to power the windlass.

Perhaps in an uncrowded anchorage with plenty of room and light winds I can hoist the main and have it ready to sail off after weighing anchor... but this is not a typical situation.

The other reason I run the engine... is that it is used to refrigerate ... engine drive refer... re charge the batts with a storm of amps... So I typically run the engine a few times a day and "doing the anchor" is the most appropriate time typically... as it takes time to get clear of anchored boats... and hoist the main and follow a channel out of the harbor where we can then sail (hopefully) and shut off the engine.

I don't have to run the engine to use the windlass... but I do and see no down side to this practice.
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