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Old 03-03-2021, 14:59   #1
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How many winches is enough?

I'm fresher than a newbie. Just started looking into sailboats for a possible retirement thingy. I keep seeing sailboats with 2 to 4 or even more winches. How many do I actually need? Is it solely dependent on number of sails?
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Old 03-03-2021, 15:09   #2
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Re: How many winches is enough?

it is dependent on how the boat is set up

older boats tend to have lots of winches...basically each winch doing a single task

newer boats have capitalised upon better fittings and design to lead multiple tasks to a small number of common winch/s

for my money this is a better system as winches need maintenance, cost money and are heavy. on the other hand spare winches add redundancy...

the only important thing is to ensure the layout works efficiently

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Old 03-03-2021, 15:12   #3
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Re: How many winches is enough?

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, floater.
EXACTLY 3 or 4.
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Old 03-03-2021, 15:31   #4
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Re: How many winches is enough?

OK thanks for the replies. I was hoping the get away with the least amount possible.
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Old 03-03-2021, 15:44   #5
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Re: How many winches is enough?

rope clutches are your friend!
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Old 03-03-2021, 17:37   #6
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Re: How many winches is enough?

I have 8
Two on the mast which I donít use since I run lines to 2 on the cabin top
2 for running lines
And 2 that just sit as spares or can use for a spin Omer.

So mostly just 4 are used
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Old 03-03-2021, 17:51   #7
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Re: How many winches is enough?

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OK thanks for the replies. I was hoping the get away with the least amount possible.
In that case consider a kite sail...only one winch needed. We're also considering that. Less work too.
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Old 03-03-2021, 18:04   #8
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Re: How many winches is enough?

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In that case consider a kite sail...only one winch needed. We're also considering that. Less work too.
What type of boat do you own that you are considering a kite sail for? This thread is listed under Monohull Sailboats. Are you suggesting that the mast be removed and go with a kite sail instead?
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Old 03-03-2021, 19:31   #9
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Re: How many winches is enough?

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What type of boat do you own that you are considering a kite sail for? This thread is listed under Monohull Sailboats. Are you suggesting that the mast be removed and go with a kite sail instead?
To me any monohull boat that has a kite sail, along with or without other sails, is a sailboat. And my suggestion meant only.one winch. But if that was not really your point, no problem.
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Old 04-03-2021, 11:06   #10
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Re: How many winches is enough?

Floater88: assuming you are buying used, so would keep the winches as is until you've sailed the boat you buy for a bit before make changes that may include winches. I have 4 at the mast (3 lewmar 16's + 1 Lewmar 8) and 4 in the cockpit, all Lewmars (2 44ST, 1 40ST, and 1 40). Use 1 at a time at the mast. Most I've ever used at once in the cockpit was 3. They are "bullet-proof", 43 yrs old, easy to clean and re-build. Stinkin' heavy as noted earlier. enjoy your search for a boat.
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Old 04-03-2021, 11:09   #11
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Re: How many winches is enough?

I've seen older yachts with winches all over them like warts....and I've seen a 100' Wally with only 2 (gigantic) winches. Hydraulic and electric furling does a lot of the work in the latter case.
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Old 04-03-2021, 11:51   #12
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Re: How many winches is enough?

There is no simple answer, only guidelines.
All depends on the running rig setup.
What you need to ensure is that every line that needs power enhancement when deployed, has a winch that the line gets to.
The other consideration is that if you want to work with more than one line at the same time each line has its free winch for use, i.e. you do nit have to free one of the lines while the other line is waiting because of lack of free winch.
For instance, if you intend to use spinnaker or gennaker, you may want additional pair of winches, although you may manage with the genoa winches for this.
Go onboard, check the paths of all lines, or better, sail the boat and see how the sails are operated. Ensure that the lines have easy access to the winches and that operations are streamlined.
Some modern boats have less winches than they properly should, not because of weight considerations but because of cost saving.
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Old 04-03-2021, 13:58   #13
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Re: How many winches is enough?

Just one comment out of experience : if You have a furling jib, and You want to roll it in in a gale, be sure to have the sheet on one winch and another to winch the furling line in - bit by bit - slack the sheet a bit, roll it in a bit. Because if You slack the sheet at once to do the roling in, the fluttering sail will be to haevy to roll in, and it will induce such a violent movement in the loose sheet, capable to destroy everything in its way including even Your hand and arm. Happend to me in the middle of the South-Atlantic, destroeyd a good part of the handrail, and ripped the sheethorn of the jib. And we had only one jib !!! The jib finnaly roled in but without its sheet it fluttered so violently that we had to take it down before the forestay would brake taking the mast down. We spent the whole next day stiching and gluing the sheethorn on again. Fortunatly it holded on, taking care not to stress it to much, until we reaches South Africa.

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Old 04-03-2021, 14:53   #14
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Re: How many winches is enough?

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Just one comment out of experience : if You have a furling jib, and You want to roll it in in a gale, be sure to have the sheet on one winch and another to winch the furling line in - bit by bit - slack the sheet a bit, roll it in a bit. Because if You slack the sheet at once to do the roling in, the fluttering sail will be to haevy to roll in, and it will induce such a violent movement in the loose sheet, capable to destroy everything in its way including even Your hand and arm. Happend to me in the middle of the South-Atlantic, destroeyd a good part of the handrail, and ripped the sheethorn of the jib. And we had only one jib !!! The jib finnaly roled in but without its sheet it fluttered so violently that we had to take it down before the forestay would brake taking the mast down. We spent the whole next day stiching and gluing the sheethorn on again. Fortunatly it holded on, taking care not to stress it to much, until we reaches South Africa.

Capt. Claus - ocean tramp of the eighties
The guys with the junk rigged sails say they avoid all that by just yanking one line and it all falls down into its jacks. They have a lot of other benefits too.
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Old 04-03-2021, 15:19   #15
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Re: How many winches is enough?

I don't agree with Gord, which is unusual, but does happen.

As a minimum, I say you need 6: 2 on the mast, for the halyards, and 4 in the cockpit, 2 primary winches and 2 secondary ones. In addition, our boat has two more, under the dodger, and led through sheet stoppers, for the reefing lines and for moving the main sheet traveler.

And of course, there's the anchor windlass.

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