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rclampitt 05-01-2002 07:59 PM

Electric Windlass Installation
We have recently purchased a Cal 31 and would like to know if anyone has had experience with installing an electric windlass on this or similar vessels. The Cals typically have an anchor and chain locker at the bow that leaves the deck clear with the anchor aboard. We would like to install the windlass in the locker and leave the deck clear. Any thoughts on this will really be appreciated.

Jeff_H 05-02-2002 03:41 AM

Electric Windlass Installation
There are a variety of issues involved in installing an electric windlass especially on a boat that small. First of all,if you intend to install the windlass in the anchor locker you need to make sure there is room for your anchor, anchor rode and chain with the windlass in the locker. There rarely is enough room on a 31 footer. Generally the bottom of the anchor well is not strong enough on a 31 footer to take the strain of a windlass and so the bottom of the locker needs to be beefed up with glass and perhaps plywood which is glassed to the hull on either side of the boat, stiffly tying the anchor well bottom to the hull. Many small-light windlasses work best with all chain rode and most 31 foot coastal cruisers were not designed to take the weight of an all chain rode up in the bow. Then there is the electical issue. Windlasses use a tremendous amount of power. (Imagine running the starter motor on your engine for 5 or more minutes.) A lot of boats end up with a battery just for that purpose which is placed near the bow (or halway between the engine room and foredeck) because the wire size to run the wiring for a windlass all of the way from the engine room to the foredeck gets quite large and expensive while the charging wires can often be much smaller. Then there is a question of whether you have adequate charging capacity for the comparatively large draw of a windlass. I am wrestling with this same issue on my 38 footer and I am not finding an easy answer (yet). I am looking at a manual windlass but again I am not sure that I have an answer as of yet.

Good luck and I would be curious to hear what you decide to do.


Pangaea 05-02-2002 04:51 AM

Electric Windlass Installation
I second everything Jeff said and would like to add that the electrical supply issue depends on the amp draw of the unit. Some units can draw over one hundred amps and do require a battery install up forward but you still are not out off the woods. After using the windless, the recharge of the batt. can draw alot also so, the wires for that have to be sized to acomodate the current. You probably won''t run into that problem because your boat won''t require a large unit. I suggest a unit with a wildcat with a lift capacity of four-fifty to five hundred lbs. With a smaller unit, the install is much easier and the amp draw is much less. You don''t really need a large windless for the size of your boat.
As far as the size, like so many other issues, it pretty much depends on where you intend to be and what your road consists of. If your going to be anchoring in water thats say up to twenty feet or so, you wont need a large unit. (for your boat). Twenty-five feet of five sixteenths hi-test chain will insure that when the unit is under load chain will be running through the wildcat. (If you have chain rope road).
As far as room, thats where it gets sticky. Like Jeff said says and with a number of installs under my belt I can also say, If your fordeck won''t redely accept the install, you are looking at alot of work! You will most likley have to at least install a roller or platform and might, probably will on a thirty -one foot boat, need to mount the unit below deck. If a batt. needed up fwd then you have to have room for that.
There''s more, but I''ll stop here.
Good luck.


rclampitt 05-02-2002 08:16 PM

Electric Windlass Installation
Thanks guys, everything you say confirms my own thoughts on this. I think I will wait until we get home to work this out. We''ve got a 1500 mile cruise ahead of us and not as young as used to be. Will use son-in-law as windlass for the trip. Will let you know when I get it figured out.

DuaneIsing 05-03-2002 03:24 AM

Electric Windlass Installation
So when your daughter got married, you could turn to her mother and say, "Hon, we''re not losing a daughter, we''re gaining a windlass!"

Sounds like a good plan. ;)


halyardz 05-03-2002 03:41 AM

Electric Windlass Installation
The more I read about the windlass situation the more educated I become. Let me see if I got this right in terms of conclusions: If you don''t have to have one for medical or physical reasons on a boat under 35 with a chain/nylon rode, don''t do it. By the time you are done with the alterations, additional battery power etc., its likely to cost over 2+ boat units or something near the cost of a new main. Finally, when using the son-in-law anchor capture system, said young man shall be informed that each year represents only 2% of the worth of such a lovely daughter.

Shaman 05-05-2002 06:51 PM

Electric Windlass Installation
Our 36ft. Magellan came with a wonderful {not yet wired} windless bought and rebuilt by the previous owner. The blue water cruising hull would allow for the long run of large wire, but from what I understand the best is your suggestion -- a dedicated battery very near the windless, with charging wires running back to the smart charger. So your on the right track, but balance the cost of wire to the cost of another battery.... we also haven''t made a decision. Our rigger & dilevery skipper says, "either will work fine, it''s just a matter of getting the wire sizes right.
The other problem is where to put the fifth battery. To put it in the anchor rode locker would entail construction of a more or less waterproof battery box -- which would also be very close to the V-berth which is where we sleep, which is another thing to consider. For the record, I love finding the best solution for these kinds of problems.

Let me know what you decide.


gnorbury 05-06-2002 02:13 PM

Electric Windlass Installation
If you want to efficiently recharge a battery in the bow from the main alternator you''ll need just as large cable as if you connect the windlass directly to the house batteries.

My house batteries drink 70A during the bulk charging phase. Wouldn''t want that running through 10ga wire!!! ;)


windship 05-06-2002 03:59 PM

Electric Windlass Installation
Good point! But with a windless sized for a thirty-one foot boat,four-fifty to five hundred pounds capacity,one say size twenty-four or twenty-seven batt up front,the max draw is only about up to thirty-five amps when at capacity,so,the recharge will only be near that. With the engine running even less. This set-up in a thirty-one foot boat with No.four charging wire will be fine. But let me say again, it''s alot of work. To cut the work way down it would be better to run from the house batts. as I did in my last install.


elfexor 05-07-2002 03:36 PM

Electric Windlass Installation

You might want to consider using an AGM (asorbed glass mat) battery up in the anchor locker. It is my understanding that you can put this type of battery in just about any position, even upside down and they still work fine. They are a bit pricy however.
Hope this helps


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