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  #1  
Old 07-26-2006
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Winch questions

I have a couple of basic winch questions:

My winches are the old non self tailing type, and they work fine so I have no interest in replacing them, but I don't understand how the self tailing winches work. What is it that they do, and how does one use them?

Also: my winches (10 of them) are all two speed, but I don't know how to change speed on them.
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Old 07-26-2006
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Suggest you look at any newer boat and will quickly see the benefits of self tailing winches. Believe the speed of the winch is built and would require a gear change.
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Old 07-26-2006
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You change the speed on winches by turning backwards. If you turn one direction it will be "high" speed and turn in the other it will be "low". You don't adjust anything just change direction.
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Old 07-26-2006
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The top section of the self-tailing winch helps take the line coming up from the winch, as it is wound in, and strips it from the winch and leaves it in a nice pile at the base of the winch. It also grips the line and helps keep tension on the line as you use the winch. Last of all, the self-tailing unit can act as a "cleat" for the line held in the winch.
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Old 07-26-2006
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Generally, self tailing winches are most useful for cruisers and especially single handers. A lot of racers don't like them, because it's a little harder to unwrap a line from the winch, and they are a little more likely to foul a line. They just aren't as efficient for racing.

Two speed winches are usually used by racers on all but the smaller boats, and they're also used on bigger boats, to help the crew handle the bigger line loads. For a racer, the low speed lets the jib trimmer make small adjustments in sail trim when the line is heavily loaded, and the high speed brings the line in faster during a tack. Because the two speed winch pulls in the line, regardless of whether you crank it clockwise, or counter clockwise, you can also "pump" the winch; i.e., bring in the sheet by alternately pushing the winch handle forward and pulling it back. Sometimes that is a convenient way to make smaller adjustments, and it also helps if the cockpit is crowded, and you don't have enough room to swing the winch handle all the way around. (A racing cockpit isn't supposed to get that crowded, but it happens.)

My boat is what I would consider a moderately fast 35' cruiser, and it has two speed self tailers. I mostly cruise it singlehanded, and like the winches very much for that purpose. I should add that my boat also has a jam cleat by each primary winch, and, while I use the self tailers frequently, I often prefer to forego the self-tailer, and let the jam cleat hold the line. It's easier for me, when singlehanding, to uncleat the line from the jam cleat before I tack the boat. It's nice to have both options.

Last edited by Sailormon6; 07-26-2006 at 10:24 AM.
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Old 07-26-2006
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On my smaller 25 footer, I did not have self tailers and did not find them necessary. I was able in most conditions to sheet in the smallish genny, on a smaller boat they may not be necessary.

But with the bigger boat and sailing shorthanded, with higher loads and more sail, the selftailers are much appreciated.

Just like having another pair of hand.
Very valuable.

Sailingdog gave a nice response and answered the question of how they work.
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Thanks sailortjk1,

BTW, I generally will cleat the line off on a real cleat if it is under a very heavy load, like when I'm using the winch to lower the mast on my boat... rather than trusting the self-tailer to hold under a heavy load.
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Old 07-26-2006
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My 150 Genny does take some effort when the wind's blowing, but no big deal. I've sailed boats with self-tailers and initially wished my winches were self-tailing after purchasing my current boat, I've found that they work just fine for me - and I do a lot of singlehanding.

Nauticat yachts did provide cleats adjacent to each deck-mount winch, which I always use. If your boat lacks this convenience, consider installing them over the expensive upgrade of new self-tailers.
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Having had boats with each, I much prefer self-tailing winches, particularly with larger boats. I am not a racer, though.
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BTW, my boat has self-tailing winches for the genny sheets, and I do single hand quite a bit...I don't think I'd sail as much single handed if I didn't have the self-tailing winches.
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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