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Old 01-03-2021, 23:47   #1
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Do you leave your windlass on?

I had a situation the other day where it was blowing 30 kts in an anchorage opposite a marina and the boat upwind of me started to drag. I called up the marina to see if they knew the owner, they did but couldnt contact him.

So they came out and got a line on her and then asked me to come over to see if could lift the anchor and then get it reset. It was a 48ft steel ketch and there was no way I was going to be able to lift the anchor by hand. Luckily the owner has left one hatch adjar and I was able to go in turn on the electrics and we got it sorted.

The owner returned a few days later and very kindly bought me a 6 pack to say thanks.

So Im wondering if people leave their windlass turned on when away from the boat? Ive been cruising for 2 years now and never have done, but then I've only spent three nights away from the boat when she's on anchor, and never when there are decent winds forecast.

What do you all do?
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Old 02-03-2021, 06:10   #2
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Re: Do you leave your windlass on?

Sorry, but no, Olly.

Leaving any electrics - of any sort - switched on in the absence of the boat's skipper is invitation to all sorts of problems - from minor annoyances (draining batteries) to outright disasters (fire/complete loss of boat).

Not prudent seamanship.

Well done, though, with your assist on the dragging ketch. This is the sort of thing we sailors do for each other and what makes the sailing community so amazing!

Fair winds,
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Old 02-03-2021, 06:21   #3
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Re: Do you leave your windlass on?

We never leave the windlass "on" even if we we are on the boat.

It becomes a given part of the anchoring procedure to turn the breaker on to use it then turn it off when done.
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Old 02-03-2021, 06:24   #4
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Re: Do you leave your windlass on?

I leave the breaker for mine on, but there's a switch on the helm to turn the control circuit on/off. That's off any time we're not actively using the windlass.
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Old 02-03-2021, 06:29   #5
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Re: Do you leave your windlass on?

Breaker at panel always on. Toggle switch for raising and lowering stays in neutral position. Don't they all when not being used?
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Old 02-03-2021, 06:31   #6
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Re: Do you leave your windlass on?

I leave the windless on only when underway
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Old 02-03-2021, 06:53   #7
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Re: Do you leave your windlass on?

We turn the low-current breaker on for the windlass only when needed (this controls the DC to the solenoid that drives the motor). I have a profound distrust of the deck-mounted switch, having seen more than one get invaded by saltwater and activating the windlass at random times (never on our boat, fortunately!).
An uncommanded activation could be a disaster if the windlass has the friction engaged, whether at anchor or with it stowed. (yes, there's a big breaker on the high-current feed, but what happens before that pops?!)


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Old 02-03-2021, 06:56   #8
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Re: Do you leave your windlass on?

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Originally Posted by Hartleyg View Post
We turn the low-current breaker on for the windlass only when needed (this controls the DC to the solenoid that drives the motor). I have a profound distrust of the deck-mounted switch, having seen more than one get invaded by saltwater and activating the windlass at random times (never on our boat, fortunately!).
An uncommanded activation could be a disaster if the windlass has the friction engaged, whether at anchor or with it stowed. (yes, there's a big breaker on the high-current feed, but what happens before that pops?!)

That's exactly my line of thinking. I've got no foot switches, but the wireless remote can fail or get bumped in the cabinet it lives in. The up/down switch at the helm could fail, etc. So solenoid power gets turned off when not in use. To make things convenient, that same circuit drives the washdown pump relay, so once you turn the windlass on, the washdown is ready to use.
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Old 02-03-2021, 07:15   #9
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Re: Do you leave your windlass on?

I do leave mine "on" for exactly this kind of issue. Of course, mine is a manual windlass . But I always leave the handle up at the foredeck when anchored to deal with unplanned emergencies. Just seems prudent.
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Old 02-03-2021, 07:23   #10
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Re: Do you leave your windlass on?

I leave mine on when at anchor, so that if there is an urgent situation I can quickly respond. I had a boat drag past me at an anchorage just a couple of days ago, and for a minute I thought I was going to need to quickly respond.

I also turn it on when maneuvering in shallow water, so that if I unexpectedly lose the engine, I can quickly drop the anchor.
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Old 02-03-2021, 10:25   #11
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Re: Do you leave your windlass on?

I keep my breaker off as much as possible because I don't want any hot wires causing corrosion. It's usually left on when at anchor. I also keep my stern anchor ready to deploy instantly. I was helping a friend who bought a motor boat with a electric windlass that had been siting for many years. It all looked good on the surface but when I went under to find out what was wrong the mounting flange and electronics were so corroded they just fell apart.
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Old 02-03-2021, 10:57   #12
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Re: Do you leave your windlass on?

The only 'breaker' I have is the inline fuse down in the engine compartment. Mine is always "ON". Even If I had a 12v breaker I would leave it on. If boat starts to drag, one of the things we do is to prepare to dump anchor rode and either spring or push our boat out of the way of the dragging boat. If we don't have time to push our boat out of the way with the dinghy, I fire up the engine and spring our boat out of the way. If we don't have time for either, then we wait until the dragging boat is almost upon us so we can catch rails and lassoo lines on cleats, then dump rode and push the dragging boat along side of us and try to raft them up to us.
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Old 02-03-2021, 11:19   #13
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Re: Do you leave your windlass on?

I usually leave the main windlass power switch ON if it happens to be in a period when i am at anchor and using the boat, even if i am temporarily away at a chandlery, shopping, or enjoying a beer on the quay. In effect, in a 5-6 month period i probably never turn it OFF. I will turn it OFF if i am closing up the boat in a marina. I do have a Quick control in my cockpit but nobody has accidentally leaned against the buttons and caused a disaster.

Sure, it might be better at times to switch OFF the main breaker but there are so many other things to do on a boat that this just adds to the list (when you might prefer to spend the time having a beer).

If a boat has footswitches on the deck in the bow I would suggest they turn OFF the main breaker as often as poss. Problem is the inevitable salt corrosion you get on anything electrical in the bow and if the wires are "hot" this will rapidly increase the speed of corrosion of the switches, connections, etc. After a while all the metals end up as an un-identifiable mush if you leave the breaker ON.
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Old 02-03-2021, 11:42   #14
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Re: Do you leave your windlass on?

An electric windlass is somewhat new for us (past 5 years or so) and it has taken some time and lots of advice from friends and others, regarding leaving it on/off. Our current protocol is that it is off unless we are at anchor during which time we leave it on.

An anchor is also a safety device for deployment if/when power is lost and the boat is heading for something untoward. Fortunately, the electric windlass will drop the anchor without power so keeping it off when underway doesn't compromise this safety feature.
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Old 02-03-2021, 11:49   #15
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Re: Do you leave your windlass on?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Olly75 View Post
I had a situation the other day where it was blowing 30 kts in an anchorage opposite a marina and the boat upwind of me started to drag. I called up the marina to see if they knew the owner, they did but couldnt contact him.

So they came out and got a line on her and then asked me to come over to see if could lift the anchor and then get it reset. It was a 48ft steel ketch and there was no way I was going to be able to lift the anchor by hand. Luckily the owner has left one hatch adjar and I was able to go in turn on the electrics and we got it sorted.

The owner returned a few days later and very kindly bought me a 6 pack to say thanks.

So Im wondering if people leave their windlass turned on when away from the boat? Ive been cruising for 2 years now and never have done, but then I've only spent three nights away from the boat when she's on anchor, and never when there are decent winds forecast.

What do you all do?
I have a Maxwell HWC 1500 windlass and the manual says to turn the breaker off when not in use...that guidance is what I follow explicitly.

Furthermore, when I leave the boat for any length of time all electronics, breakers, and master switch are turn off...that is how it should be. Bilge pumps are wired to activate when necessary and solar panels continue to charge the batteries as necessary.

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