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Old 30-10-2020, 17:35   #1
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Boat: Morgan OI 28
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Windless or Winching ?

Decided I need to improve my ability to get my anchor and rode up after years of hand hauling the line. Trying to decide if a windless is absolutely necessary, or if a quality 5 or 6 inch winch up on the foredeck or cabin top would do the job.


I don't anchor frequently, but when I do, am looking to install either of these to help me break out the anchor, and facilitate getting anchor/chain on deck. I have a 27# anchor and 10ft of chain attached to 5/8 line around 35-40# total weight at end of line.


The boat is a Morgan and the chain locker is not very large, so trying to position a windless right up near the anchor roller assembly would end up dropping the rode down into the forward area of the V berth aft of the chain locker. I have spotted a place about 4 ft back from the anchor roller assembly, that would be a good place to mount a winch. The cabin top on the Morgan is solid and close to a 2 inch sandwich, so I'm confident in the ability of making a strong installation (with backing plate) for a winch.


In theory, one could bring the anchor line back to a jib/Genoa winch, however, its a long run, and if you have to finagle something with the anchor/line while cranking it up...its easier to do if you're up on the fore-deck.


Wondering if others have had reasonable success in using a winch vs windless to help get the anchor and rode up tips...ideas?
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Old 30-10-2020, 18:11   #2
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Re: Windless or Winching ?

I sailed my Hunter 30 for 25 years with strong avoidance to moorings and slips. My anchor of choice back then was a Bruce, both a 33 and 44. Anchor had about 30' of 3/8'' chain with the rest of the rode 5/8'' nylon three strand.

Never ever had any desire for a windlass and doubt you need one either. Wifey would power over the anchor while I sat in the chain locker retrieving the rode until the rode was vertical. Cleated the rode, put the boat in reverse an pull the anchor free with no troubles. Then just pulled the rode up while sitting in the chain locker using a bow roller until the anchor sat properly mounted onto the bow. Tied things down and off we would go.

My reason for freeing the anchor using reverse instead of forward was to avoid having chain drag against the side of the hull. Again, I don't think you need a windlass. Yes, I have one on my 40' Silverton; but I also have an 80# Manson Supreme and an all chain rode. But to each his own and don't overlook having a good battery along with heavy wiring to minimize voltage drop. My windlass is powered from 24V to minimize voltage loss in the wiring
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Old 30-10-2020, 18:51   #3
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Re: Windless or Winching ?

Cruised for 20 years in the Pacific Northwest with 50' chain and 33# Bruce on 34' sailboat. Sticky mud bottoms with protected anchorages. Used a manual windlass for the chain and was happy. 8 years ago we sailed to the tropics with coral and exposed anchorages and tropical storms. Refit with 55# Rockna, 250' chain and 1200 watt windlass. My point is same boat but different needs depending on cruising grounds and intended use, ie full time or occasional anchoring. By the way I am 30 years older and a bit slower and that factors in.
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Old 30-10-2020, 19:03   #4
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Re: Windless or Winching ?

Our last boat had a similar anchor/rode. Never had a windlass. Hand over hand most of the time, genoa winch when needed. If you want something forward see no reason mounting a winch wouldn't work, if you can get it 10' back then it will never see chain. Stainless winch drum will handle the chain better than aluminum if the chain will get to the winch.
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Old 31-10-2020, 12:48   #5
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Re: Windless or Winching ?

I agree with foggysail's plan regarding not requiring the mechanical advantage of the winch or windlass for rode lengths unless your using more than 50 to 75 feet of chain. Any more would be cumbersome and likely too much weight in the bow chain locker for your 28. Maybe 20' of chain followed by nylon rode would suit better.

There's another reason to pull the anchor free without pulling well forward. Motoring over a cloud of raised sediment can sometimes "eat up" the rubber impellor in your water pump">raw water pump.

Regarding the position of a winch aft of your locker, you have two choices. You can tail the winched rode back forward to drop into the chain locker (a bit cumbersome) or you can drop the rode into a thick-walled PVC chute that angles forward, below the deck, onto the chain locker. This second option takes some foot space away from your V-berth.

I believe that your Morgan, like mine, has a chain locker draining to the bilge. This means that it's very important to remove the mud from your rode before dropping it into the locker. I had a manual windlass on my 41 Morgan OI and I was always pleased to shake the muddy portion of my chain with a boat hook while it was still in the water. I would raise about 10-15 feet, shake the chain and repeat. 'a little extra work, but it kept my bilge cleaner.
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Old 31-10-2020, 16:28   #6
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Re: Windless or Winching ?

Again, I think it depends on the type of boat and how often you plan on anchoring. On my Hunter 34 in the Columbia I have no problem pulling up the anchor while the wife drives down slowly on it. But in the Caribbean on a 45' cat with a 60 pound Bruce it would ruin my back in a hurry if I didn't have a windless.
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Old 31-10-2020, 21:32   #7
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Re: Windless or Winching ?

Don't know about you, but when I find myself windless I just turn on the engine.


OK, sorry - anyway if your boat is actually a 28 footer, I wouldn't bother with any sort of winch or windlass. Waste of space, toe-stubber. How heavy is the anchor and a chain afterall?

To break out the anchor, just pull the rode up tight, cleat it to the foredeck cleat, and motor ahead, or back if you worry about mud in the engine intake. After it breaks out of the bottom, just pull it up by hand.


Spend the money instead on an anchor wash system. Good diaphram pressure water pump connected to a thru-hull (you can tee it off the head inlet probably) and a hose bib on deck forward. It is a great convenience to avoid a terrible muddy mess on deck that can happen in some anchorages.
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Old 01-11-2020, 18:37   #8
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Re: Windless or Winching ?

Thanks for your thoughts. A little more info. I normally sail solo, so I have to careful and quick. I've been in situations where in the middle of the night I've had to get a stubborn anchor up, in one case, in a 3 ft or so chop. Instances where a lot of initial force has been needed to get it up.... sometimes hooking an old mooring line or something to that effect (I've also hooked a tire during retrieval...)



The anchor is a Rocna Vulcan...digs deep and at times can be somewhat stubborn to be retrieved. Once I brought the line up to the main sheet winch on the mast, and quickly figured out I would be putting a lot of strain on the mast base.



Bottom line...there has been many a time I wished I had more than hand power to help break the anchor free and get the rode.


At this point, I'm leaning towards that 'extra' cabin top winch up on the foredeck area.
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Old 03-11-2020, 06:48   #9
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Re: Windless or Winching ?

Are you thinking of hauling chain with a winch? It seems likely to slip badly on the drum and be difficult to tail. If you mount a winch on the deck you will be operating it on your hands and knees. Eric Hiscock suggested a winch mounted on the mast, but there is a mounting problem. When we winch a jib sheet it is only the last 2 or 3 feet. Winching dozens of feet of rode would be slow and tedious, and result in a pile of rode on deck to be stowed away. If you are mostly concerned about getting the chain and anchor to the stemhead a chain-pawl fitted to the anchor roller might help ease the task.
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