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Old 24-03-2014, 15:02   #1
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Whos Using a Manual Windlass for Daily Anchoring (and Liking It!)?

We plan to hop off for some extended cruising in a few months and will spend most of our time on the hook, moving every other day or so. Our boat came with a manual windlass that well be using to raise a 55 lb. anchor on 3/8 all chain rode. I see that almost all discussion of windlasses focuses on electric models and that only one or two manual windlasses are still even made.

The idea of using the manual windlass appeals in many ways - the $2-3k cost of an electric windlass is saved, we get to build our upper body strength, its one less electrical item to break down/have to maintain/have to supply power for, and it will still work in the event of a complete electrical system failure. Were both thirty-something so were not overly concerned about the manual labor of raising and lowering the anchor day to day.

If theres anything we are worried about with the manual its being in a situation where the anchor is set hard, the winds piping up, and we have to get out in a hurry. Still, on our old boat we had no windlass and were able to motor forward on the rode in those situations.

So are we crazy to even think about sticking with the manual windlass? Are you out there on the hook using your manual every day and wouldn't have it any other way?
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Old 24-03-2014, 15:38   #2
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Re: Whos Using a Manual Windlass for Daily Anchoring (and Liking It!)?

I went through exactly the same concerns as you are now.
We cruised for four years on a 40' ten ton boat with a 45lb plough on 10mm chain and handled it with a manual windlass. We had no problems at all, and on more than one occasion had to weigh anchor in rather nasty conditions. On that boat I purposefully ditched the electric windlass in favour of the manual for exactly the reasons that you espouse. With a good double acting windlass I think any difference in hoisting speed between it and an electric is minimal, if at all, and when I recall the odd occasion that we got the anchor fouled.......well I think an electric windlass would have burnt the motor out considering that we nearly put the foredeck in the water trying to break out the anchor. Another advantage (for us, anyway) was that our battery capacity was not huge, and therefore we would have been obliged to run the engine when operating an electric winch. A manual windlass also enabled us to sail off the anchor without the engine when we chose, which makes you feel all smug and superior to everybody else in the anchorage - two really great feelings to have.
On my present boat I have an electric winch and I would change back to a manual if my wife would approve the expenditure. Concerning fitness to handle a manual winch, well I turned 60 about 9 years ago......
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Old 24-03-2014, 15:50   #3
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Re: Whos Using a Manual Windlass for Daily Anchoring (and Liking It!)?

I don't have much experience yet with my manual windlass, the few times I have used it it has been fine. I am about to upgrade to a 65 Lb Mantus... I will let you know how it goes with that monster on the other end. I am torn between keeping it and switching it out too. Same thoughts in my head as you already posted. The one big advantage i see with an electric is sailing short handed.
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Old 24-03-2014, 15:58   #4
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Re: Whos Using a Manual Windlass for Daily Anchoring (and Liking It!)?

Yes... you are crazy! haha... having said that, sure you can do it with a manual, many did for years. But having had both, I find it much easier in a blow with electric.... even with two people.
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Old 24-03-2014, 15:59   #5
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Re: Whos Using a Manual Windlass for Daily Anchoring (and Liking It!)?

You seem firmly talked into manual, but forget the cash for a minute and ponder the many pluses. With electric you'll always put more out as bringing it in is cake, once set if your to close to others it's easy to up the hook and try again. It's not odd to occasionally find difficult bottom and need to move just 100' and try again. I have cockpit switches and can do the whole process from the helm, before the wife is even out of bed. Plus I've noticed all the manuals I've seen are very slow. Think about dragging on a blow and need to haul in 120' on a pitching deck. Pretty much don't knock it until you've tried it. I bought my boat and got a windlass weeks later I've never weighed anchor by hand, well maybe a stern anchor.
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Old 24-03-2014, 16:05   #6
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Re: Whos Using a Manual Windlass for Daily Anchoring (and Liking It!)?

Yeah. In a blow , it's often possible for the helmsman to time the boat speed with the retrieval rate of the electric windlass... keeping the chain from snubbing up hard. There's a lot of little things going on once you release that snubber... in a blow suddenly your chain is bar taught and trying to jerk the windlass or chain stopper out of the deck!
and the re-anchoring comment is a good one too... I've had to move 3-4 times before. There's a reason no one anchored in that nice looking spot!
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Old 24-03-2014, 16:16   #7
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Re: Whos Using a Manual Windlass for Daily Anchoring (and Liking It!)?

Have used Goiot single speed manual windlass for the last 6 years, 60m of 10mm chain, 20kg Rocna, I have a 1200 maxwell that I could install but havn't yet felt the need, we have sailed the Pacific as well as NZ waters. I enjoy cranking it in, (exercise) sitting with my feet in the chain locker, watching the others anchored nearby. occasionally you do have to re-position due to anchoring to close to another boat or vice versa, that life, not a problem.
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Old 24-03-2014, 16:35   #8
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Re: Whos Using a Manual Windlass for Daily Anchoring (and Liking It!)?

I have an electric windlass but have crewed on boats with a manual one. It worked ok but it was SLOW. So slow that I ended up hauling most of the chain by hand and just used the windlass to break the anchor out. and haul it up. My one piece of advice: If you get a manual windlass, buy a good pair of gloves.
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Old 24-03-2014, 16:49   #9
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Re: Whos Using a Manual Windlass for Daily Anchoring (and Liking It!)?

Since I do a lot of single hand cruising in the summer months and move every day on the west coast of BC, I prefer the electric operated from the helm. A 55 lb. Bruce and 250 ft. of 3/8 BB chain is more than just good exercise when anchored in 50 to 65 ft. of water. At my age, that is called torture. Since we are no longer allowed slaves on a boat to man the anchor and row we have to endure the modern electric or hydraulic(spawned from the devil) windlasses. And if it should break down I still can bring it up manually.
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Old 24-03-2014, 17:36   #10
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Re: Whos Using a Manual Windlass for Daily Anchoring (and Liking It!)?

We just went through this very same thought process /exercise except we did not have a windlass. We just installed a very good manual windlass for the very reasons you stated in our preparation to cast off.. We like to keep our systems simple and very reliable. One big variable for us is that there is a 30 year age difference, but we are of the same mind set as far as staying fit etc. Plus in your case you are talking about spending 200 to 300 wine units for a less reliable system. Should you opt for an upgrade to a electric windlass you probably should consider investing in a membership in a health club to maintain your upper body. I say cheers keep what you have and just clink your glass each evening after the anchor is down and enjoy your cruise!
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Old 24-03-2014, 17:43   #11
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Re: Whos Using a Manual Windlass for Daily Anchoring (and Liking It!)?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Horror Hotel View Post
Think about dragging on a blow and need to haul in 120' on a pitching deck.
Done it... took about 30-40 minutes in the freezing wind blown rain. Will never do that again - we are upgrading to an Ideal windlass.
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Old 25-03-2014, 07:23   #12
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Re: Whos Using a Manual Windlass for Daily Anchoring (and Liking It!)?

I cruised more than 2 years on an engine-less 26 footer with all chain and a manual windlass. It was a big help, since I started with all chain and no windlass. It worked very well with 2 people working in coordination, but I would not want to do it single handed. It did get real dodgy when pulling the hook in a deep anchorage, since there was a lot of time between the anchor breaking loose, and getting it secure in the roller. I clearly remember one time pulling the hook in a windy, deep anchorage, and pumping so fast that when i got back to the cockpit, I realized that I had a large blister forming in the palm of my hand. I was young and fit back then. I am old and grey now, and looking for another boat, and will spring for an electric windlass.____Grant.
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Old 25-03-2014, 07:47   #13
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Re: Whos Using a Manual Windlass for Daily Anchoring (and Liking It!)?

An ironic side note on the manual windlass question. I am one with very little trust in electrics in a salt atmosphere. My first 2 cruising boats had manual windlasses which siezed up by the end of long passages. I was able to free them with WD40 and a lot of banging, but I didnt think that they should have gone bad so easily. My last boat had an electric windlass (just a capstan) that must have been frequently abused (ex charter boat) , but just kept on working with never a problem. GO FIGURE!!! _____Grant.
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Old 25-03-2014, 08:12   #14
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Re: Whos Using a Manual Windlass for Daily Anchoring (and Liking It!)?

Quote:
Originally Posted by 4arch View Post
We plan to hop off for some extended cruising in a few months and will spend most of our time on the hook, moving every other day or so. Our boat came with a manual windlass that well be using to raise a 55 lb. anchor on 3/8 all chain rode. I see that almost all discussion of windlasses focuses on electric models and that only one or two manual windlasses are still even made.
Our bower is a 55# Rocna on 3/8" chain. We have a 28,000# full-keeler. Our windlass is a Plath bronze single speed, double-action, although I'm thinking of switching to a double-speed Seatiger 555. While we are not out full time yet (this season we start), we've cruised seasonally for the last four years, going out for at least a month at a time. We anchor all the time, and normally move every few days. All that is to say, our experience is pretty close to your plans.

I love our manual windlass. There are pros and cons to a manual over an electric, just like with all cruising choices. All I can say is, for us, it works well. I would not choose an electric at this point.
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Old 25-03-2014, 10:33   #15
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Re: Whos Using a Manual Windlass for Daily Anchoring (and Liking It!)?

As many here have stated the pros and cons of a manual windlass, the one quote that struck me the best was "you always lay more chain with electric". As much as I loved the "simple" operation of our old bronze sl500...it was just too darn slow rate of retrieval .Many times we either had to re-anchor several times or leave hastily and I can say it is by far the one area where power is better. We have no other winches aboard Avalon, so if the Admiral reads this post, next time I ask for the "handy billy" might get a blank stare !, cheers
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