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Old 11-22-2014
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Foot switches for an Anchor Windlass

We are installing a new Lofrans Tigres anchor windlass on our old PS 37. There are a lot of different opinions as to what type of switches to use. The choices are foot switches, wired remote, and wireless remote. Some of my fellow sailors have had bad experiences with foot switches because of leakage and inadvertent windlass activation while working on the foredeck.
It would be helpful to hear the experiences and opinions of others on this topic.
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Old 11-22-2014
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Re: Foot switches for an Anchor Windlass

I have a Lofran's Airon on our boat.
I just re-bedded it and the two deck switches.
I have never had a problem with activating the windlass by stepping on a switch. They have little hinged caps on them to protect the activation button. This system seems to work well.
One thing our boat didn't have was a control for the windlass at the helm. Not being one to have everything remotely or radio controlled I have now wired in a Lofran's windlass switch at the helm. Way better set up for anchoring.
Once my gear is on the bottom I can do everything else by myself from the helm.
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Re: Foot switches for an Anchor Windlass

In my experience, windlass foot switches have about as high a failure rate as just about anything one can install on a boat... :-)

Not to mention, having to rely on them can easily result in having to play what amounts to a game of "Twister" on your forececk, and can be very inconvenient when performing such chores as releasing a snubber, clearing the rode or hook of kelp, re-orienting the anchor in the event it comes up to the roller 'backwards', and so on... And, in the event you encounter extreme conditions where you might be far better off on your hands and knees on a wildly pitching foredeck, having to turn your foot switch into a 'knee switch' can be inconvenient, to say the least...

I vote for a hard-wired remote... Mine makes the connection inside the boat, and is simply led out through a port or hatch forward, a setup that works very well, for me...

No way I'd trust a wireless remote for something as essential as a windlass, and am not sure what real advantage they have over a wired remote...

Last edited by JonEisberg; 11-22-2014 at 10:34 AM.
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Re: Foot switches for an Anchor Windlass

I thought about adding a hand held, hard wired remote that I could stow in the anchor locker but playing twister on the foredeck with one hand is difficult. If I'm going to play twister I want both hands on deck.
If I have to use a knee or an elbow to activate the deck switches then so be it. At least I have two hands to work out the kinks and keep me from being flung off the foredeck.
I have heard of the rubber inside of these switches deteriorating and causing a leak but mine have had their protective covers on them now for over twenty years and they are both still in good shape.
My windlass switch at the helm is hard wired.
I agree with Jon that something as important as your anchor should not be radio controlled. What if the boat next to you has the same frequency.
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Old 11-22-2014
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Re: Foot switches for an Anchor Windlass

Like Jon I have a hard wired remote having removed a foot switch. I never liked getting my leg withing two feet of an active windlass. Now I stand back in a safe area.

Nor would I like running a windlass from the helm, I want to see what is happening to the anchor and the chain!

However, in big winds and waves it is often necessary to motor up on the anchor so if single-handing a hard wired remote at the helm would be valuable.

Phil
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Re: Foot switches for an Anchor Windlass

As the Tigress is a 'freefall' windlass, only an up switch is needed. Our foot switch is 30 odd years old and shows no indication of ever having leaked. It has never failed us and if we shut down the windlass when it isn't needed folks on the foredeck stepping on the switch is of no consequence.
I replaced our Tigress (a great windlass) for the Falkon and added a wired remote so we can slack off chain under load in heavy weather. That is the ONLY time we use it.
As for failure, having an automobile remote starter switch around the boat is not only handy should your start circuit on the engine fail, but it can be used should the switch fail on the windlass.
A remote at the helm of a sailboat for the anchor, if you cannot see the anchor, chain fall and roller is total lunacy IMO. There is just too much that could go wrong with very heavy metal gear and a powerful electric or hydraulic motor. Just last week we picked up several hundred pounds of anchor, line and chain wrapped in our gear (spoiler alert; Chaguaramas harbor is littered with trash) and had we been pulling the anchor from the helm, we would have done serious damage to our topsides when that mess came up to the roller, at the very least.
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Re: Foot switches for an Anchor Windlass

We have foot switches on our new to us boat and I don’t like them at all. Too easy to stand on the wrong switch especially in a bit of a swell (one cover for both buttons), or accidentally step on a live button, as I did after leaning over the pulpit for a look. Too close to the chain and if you did have an “incident”, it’s a more natural reaction to drop a handheld than lift your foot off of a foot switch… at least I think so. I will get a hand held once more pressing maintenance issues have been resolved, although I will probably leave the foot switches in place as a back up, but make a more secure cover for them .
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Re: Foot switches for an Anchor Windlass

I fitted a Lofrans Tigres with Lofrans foot switches to my boat about 6 years ago. The foot switches last about 12 to 18 months. At this point the live connection inside the switch has corroded away to nothing.

They are not expensive to replace and when one fails I can just swap the connection on the two way solenoid to get the winch going the way I want it to.

Every now and then I think up some alternative way of doing things usually as I am drifting off to sleep but they all seem to have drawbacks in the cold light of day
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Re: Foot switches for an Anchor Windlass

Quote:
Originally Posted by capta View Post
A remote at the helm of a sailboat for the anchor, if you cannot see the anchor, chain fall and roller is total lunacy IMO.
The main use is Med mooring when it is almost essential with a small crew.

The wired helm control tends to be replaced these days with a wireless remote that can be operated anywhere. They are available very cheaply ($20) and are simple to fit. A worthwhile option.
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Re: Foot switches for an Anchor Windlass

Quote:
Originally Posted by noelex77 View Post
The main use is Med mooring when it is almost essential with a small crew.
.
Hardly essential. Most windlasses have a brake. Once the anchor is on the bottom with some chain out, set a bit of tension on the brake and the chain will pay out as you back to the dock. Once your crew has a line or two ashore, she can go forward and tighten the chain. Never had the need of a remote anchor control, even on an 80 foot, single screw vessel, without a bow thruster and only 2 aboard.
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Last edited by capta; 11-22-2014 at 05:26 PM.
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