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Old 01-10-2010, 01:00   #16
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Originally Posted by Talbot View Post
I have to disagree.

A windlass is not designed to pull the boat up to the anchor - this is a way to burn the windlass out. It is designed to pick up the chain when the tension is off it. Thus you need to be able to drive the boat towards the anchor position.

I have had occassion to recover an anchor when there was 25 kts of wind over the deck and also 2 kts of current. believe me, without being able to move the boat forward it would have been impossible.

Therefore as a singlehander you are left with the need for either a remote windlass control, or a remote wheel and engine control. The windlass control system is simpler and cheaper.
I have never single-handed my 54 foot, 24 ton boat. But I frequently sail being the only sailor on board, where even operating the throttle from the helm is a lot to ask from my eager but completely unskilled guests. So it's almost single handing where anchoring is concerned.

In anything under 20 knots I don't need to motor to recover the anchor. I don't pull the boat up on the windlass; I pull the catenary out of the chain, then wait. The boat moves up, and the chain sags again. Pull up and wait. And so forth, until the boat is over the anchor, which is then pulled out by the boat's bobbing in the waves. Then anchor up and run back to the cockpit to motor off. Works well for me. I do have a fairly heavy chain (12mm or almost 1/2") and fairly powerful windlass (3000 watts). Being at the bow I can see exactly what the chain is doing and so know exactly when to stop pulling.

If I were trying to do this from the cockpit, I don't know how I would avoid overrunning the chain with the boat. I can't see anything about what's going on with the chain from the cockpit because the bow roller is 6 feet above the water level. Maybe a video camera? But that starts to get ridiculously complicated.
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Old 01-10-2010, 01:47   #17
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Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
In anything under 20 knots I don't need to motor to recover the anchor. I don't pull the boat up on the windlass; I pull the catenary out of the chain, then wait. The boat moves up, and the chain sags again. Pull up and wait. And so forth, until the boat is over the anchor, which is then pulled out by the boat's bobbing in the waves. Then anchor up and run back to the cockpit to motor off. Works well for me. I do have a fairly heavy chain (12mm or almost 1/2") and fairly powerful windlass (3000 watts). Being at the bow I can see exactly what the chain is doing and so know exactly when to stop pulling. .
That would not work when you have 25 kts of wind and 2 kts of current - so how would you do it?

Believe me it was a significant problem. I ended up haveing a rope floated down to me by the boat ahead, motoring to where I believed the anchor to be, and they taking down the slack until I stopped. I then recovered the chain. I was unable to break out the anchor, so had to stopper the chain, release the rope to the other boat, and motor out the anchor into deeper water. - That anchor was really covered in mud!

It was particularly well buried because at one time in those conditions I had two 6m ribs also secured, as their own anchor had been dragging.
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Old 01-10-2010, 01:57   #18
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That would not work when you have 25 kts of wind and 2 kts of current - so how would you do it?

Believe me it was a significant problem. I ended up haveing a rope floated down to me by the boat ahead, motoring to where I believed the anchor to be, and they taking down the slack until I stopped. I then recovered the chain. I was unable to break out the anchor, so had to stopper the chain, release the rope to the other boat, and motor out the anchor into deeper water. - That anchor was really covered in mud!

It was particularly well buried because at one time in those conditions I had two 6m ribs also secured, as their own anchor had been dragging.
Oh, yes, I believe you, and I understand that. My technique only works up to about 20 knots.

In rougher conditions I have someone at the helm motor towards the anchor, using hand signals (thumbs up -- go forward; fist -- stop; thumbs down -- back down; twirling index finger -- more revs) to show what I want.

If I were single handed in such conditions I would use the helm control, guessing what the chain is doing and hoping not to have overrun it. And hoping not to break anything by pulling on the chain at the wrong angle.

After all these helpful suggestions, I will practice in benign conditions.
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Old 01-10-2010, 05:46   #19
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Therefore as a singlehander...
Standing at the wheel, how do you know which way to turn? How can you tell you are not overloading the windlass? How can you tell a number of other unfortunate circumstances? These are my issues. I have a remote in the cockpit. Don't ever use it. Likewise, I have no lines led back to the cockpit except the furler...nothing. So I'm an oddball.

Firstly, the windlass needs to be big and strong. Then it needs to have the proper wires to the batteries. And the batteries need to be proper. Unfortunately, in the cruising world it is rare to see all three considerations properly addressed. If you have a vessel with a huge amount of windage, awnings, extra running rigging, every doo-hickey, canoes, kayaks and an redundant mast, then yes you should install the huge windlass.

My windlass will certainly pull the boat around in 25 knots without any pain. I've very little windage. Blowing much harder? Normally I'd just go back to the bunk and wait for more pleasant weather. Or if I really have to go I suppose I'd tie a float to the rode and cut it free. Otherwise one can use the autopilot to ease the stress. But it's a bit of a trick to get a steady heading. She sails and tacks at anchor in a blow, which is usually pretty annoying, but not while weighing anchor: there's some time in each tack where the rode is slackened. Indeed I've raised the anchor, 55# plus chain, by hand in much more than 25 knots using that technique.

I think the windlass will pull harder than the engine will push at static thrust. Or about the same anyway.

Honestly, going back to the bunk is my favorite solution...
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Old 01-10-2010, 06:06   #20
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I was thinking about installing a remote for my windlass but, I am rethinking that idea. I've spent a lot of time getting to know the workings of my Maxwell-Nillson VR-700 windlass after several failures.
THE BIANKA LOG BLOG: FAILURE IS AN OPTION: FIXING THE MAXWELL NILSSON VR-700 WINDLASS AGAIN!
Reading the excellent advice and techniques from those here at the Cruisers Forum. I've come around to using the technique of using the windlass to first take out a lot of the chain slack. I then wrap the chain around the Sampson Post and use the motor to break out the anchor. Then unwrap the chain from the Sampson Post and use the windlass to raise the anchor. Depending on the bottom conditions I've learned the hard way it's like "Russian Roulette" trying to use the windlass to break out my 33 pound Bruce. It works most of the time except when you might really need it to work:
THE BIANKA LOG BLOG: SO MUCH FOR THAT!
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Old 01-10-2010, 06:13   #21
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Originally Posted by mbianka View Post
I was thinking about installing a remote for my windlass but, I am rethinking that idea. I've spent a lot of time getting to know the workings of my Maxwell-Nillson VR-700 windlass after several failures.
THE BIANKA LOG BLOG: FAILURE IS AN OPTION: FIXING THE MAXWELL NILSSON VR-700 WINDLASS AGAIN!
Reading the excellent advice and techniques from those here at the Cruisers Forum. I've come around to using the technique of using the windlass to first take out a lot of the chain slack. I then wrap the chain around the Sampson Post and use the motor to break out the anchor. Then unwrap the chain from the Sampson Post and use the windlass to raise the anchor. Depending on the bottom conditions I've learned the hard way it's like "Russian Roulette" trying to use the windlass to break out my 33 pound Bruce. It works most of the time except when you might really need it to work:
THE BIANKA LOG BLOG: SO MUCH FOR THAT!

Let me suggest something different for breaking out your anchor.

I've never had a problem breaking out an anchor in decades of sailing. Maybe I've been lucky.

I get all the chain up until it's vertical -- 1:1 scope. The bow will be moving up and down with the waves. So it will be tight when it's rising and loose when it's falling. You just blip the windlass control every time the bow is down and eventually the chain will be good and tight. Then just stand back and let the motion of the boat break out the anchor. When the anchor is broken out, just haul it up.

Has worked for me for 20 years without fail. I have a 121 pound anchor, too.

I can imagine that this could be dangerous for the windlass in rough seas when the boat's motion is violent. I reckon you could snub the chain in that case.
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Old 01-10-2010, 06:32   #22
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Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
Let me suggest something different for breaking out your anchor.

I've never had a problem breaking out an anchor in decades of sailing. Maybe I've been lucky.

I get all the chain up until it's vertical -- 1:1 scope. The bow will be moving up and down with the waves. So it will be tight when it's rising and loose when it's falling. You just blip the windlass control every time the bow is down and eventually the chain will be good and tight. Then just stand back and let the motion of the boat break out the anchor. When the anchor is broken out, just haul it up.

Has worked for me for 20 years without fail. I have a 121 pound anchor, too.

I can imagine that this could be dangerous for the windlass in rough seas when the boat's motion is violent. I reckon you could snub the chain in that case.

This is the same method we have used for a l-o-n-g time. Note, however, that it is wise to have a chain-stopper to take the load of the up-surge rather than burdening the windlass, which really isn't designed or intended for the loads that might result.

FWIW...
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Old 01-10-2010, 06:55   #23
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Dockhead:

Thanks for the advice. But, on my current cruise I stripped the brass sacrifical key in the windlass when trying to raise the anchor in very calm conditions. This was after the anchor got REALLY set the previous night after a 50 knot squall line came though the anchorage. I think the success of raising the anchorage may depend on the type of bottom you are anchoring in too. This was mud and while it offered good holding it was too much for the windlass so I think I'll use the Sampson Post for the breakout from now on. Just to save future aggravation. I also think using the remote might cause problems for me because on occassion my chain will jam up on the deck. I think it is better that I be at the bow to see what is going on. Even if I have to go back and forth to the helm on ocassion.
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Old 01-10-2010, 07:45   #24
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One of my favorite things on my boat is the Autoanchor. Its great for Med Mooring when short handed - just tell it how much chain to let out and push the button. It also will count chain as it is let out so you know how much scope you have. When weighing anchor it stops when the anchor is about 6 feet down so the anchor can be cleaned off as you leave the anchorage and then safley stored using the bow switches.
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Old 02-08-2012, 10:53   #25
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Re: Remote Windlass Control ?

here is one singlehander who think its a necessity. pulling the anchor in any kind of sea requires motor control to avoid burning up the winch trying to pull the boat or guessing about how much headway to put on before running forward to the windless switch. its dangerous even with autopilot to hold course towards the anchor. when the boat is rolling last thing you need to be doing is running forward.
unless i have crew on the motor i need my remote.
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Old 02-08-2012, 11:18   #26
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Re: Remote Windlass Control ?

I've used one before (charter boat). If the wind is blowing, you can stay at the helm, motor the boat forward a bit, take up the chain with the remote.. and repeat that. Then when you estimate you are getting close, you can go forward and get it done quickly. Sometimes , if the anchor comes off the bottom easy and you see you are moving backwards, you can just get the anchor right up to above the water and head out, giving you time to secure it when away from other boats. Kind of handy as an option. Even in no wind, retrieiving the anchor, you can nudge the boat up to the anchor with intermittant bursts of the windlass.... yeah, I know some of you dont like that but I've always done it, never had a failure. You have to be smarter than your windlass though..... :>)
In normal conditions I almost always give the boat a forward nudge in and out of gear, then go forward, and do the rest with the windlass. The boat moves easily, it's actually not as hard on the windlass as pulling the long chain and anchor up.... you can hear the windlass if it bogs down under load.
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Old 02-08-2012, 12:56   #27
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Re: Remote Windlass Control ?

Say....whoever said the windlass has to be at the bow anyway? Weight is supposed to be kept off the ends, isn't it?

For a CC boat there isn't so far to run to the bow; could the windlass be put abaft the foremast, with the rode going into a tub for temporary storage while the sails are trimmed. Once the boat is on its merry way, one can take one's time about properly cleaning the rode, and stowing it below, ready for re-use. This would also be an ideal opportunity to switch ends...not every time the anchor is handled, but far easier to do than when it's all piled in the locker the same old way time after time. That way the only stuff you need to kep high up in the forepeak would be mooring lines and fenders and other light stuff, and the anchor/s. The bulk of the chain rode can live low and pretend to be ballast.

Workable idea, or is it canvas-jacket-time again?
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Old 02-08-2012, 13:01   #28
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Re: Remote Windlass Control ?

Would work if you have someone to strip the line off the windless and dump it in the tub. Not good for a single hander and probably won't work for all chain rode. Would take a flush deck forward from the winch if the rode is led directly below from the windlass. Got any place deep enough to store a chain rode amidship.
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Old 02-08-2012, 13:27   #29
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Re: Remote Windlass Control ?

Flush decks all around except for hard dodgers on CC; fore & aft.

To ensure the chain ends up in the tub, the windlass would be mounted 18" or so off the deck...also means more clearance for using it on aft anchor, though a dismountable roller frame would be needed amidships.

Chain rode can live in a tall shaft just under the windlass....in an emergency one could skip the tub and dump it straight below, though that would need a cleanup later; strainer basket at the bottom, and a valve for flushing, perhaps without ever touching the bilge.Was considering a vertical windlass slightly offset to starboard, so the chain shaft could go right abaft the mast below deck. In a pinch, being next to the mast, with a block one could use the windlass for hoisting.

Main thing is, one can do all of the work on the foredeck, without going right to the bow, or into the CC......just run a second windvane steering cable to the foredeck. You can steer, work the sails, watch the rode, and run the windlass.

Ok, a lot to chop & change....probably easier for a new build.
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Old 02-08-2012, 13:59   #30
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Re: Remote Windlass Control ?

I have to disagree.

A windlass is not designed to pull the boat up to the anchor - this is a way to burn the windlass out. It is designed to pick up the chain when the tension is off it. Thus you need to be able to drive the boat towards the anchor position.

I have had occassion to recover an anchor when there was 25 kts of wind over the deck and also 2 kts of current. believe me, without being able to move the boat forward it would have been impossible.

Therefore as a singlehander you are left with the need for either a remote windlass control, or a remote wheel and engine control. The windlass control system is simpler and cheaper.


Great advice, Talbot
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