Old as Dirt!
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Tampa Bay Area
Thanked 142 Times in 135 Posts
Rep Power: 8
In 2005 I suffered an injury that limits the use of my left arm. Since I don't have its full use, and we did not want to give up sailing, and, we have a large powerful yacht, I looked into replacing at least our main halyard winch, primary winches and manual windlass with electric. The cost of these replacements was pretty impressive and I delayed on all but the windlass. Shortly afterward, at the Miami Boat Show, we came across a tool called a "Winch Buddy" which, upon inspection, proved to be nothing more than a battery powered Milwaukee Right Angle Drill fitted with a winch bit, all under a neat foam cover. With a little research on the internet, I was able to come up with the tool and bit, two batteries and both 12 and 120 volt chargers (but not the neat foam cover) for under $500 (USD) or somewhat less than halft of the "Boat Show" price. (The drill generates 50 foot pounds of torque which is more than adaquate for our #43 and # 55 2-speed winches.)
We have been using these since to hoist our mainsail, and to trim and furl our genoa's. The batteries last quite a while and are quickly recharged from ship's power. With this "Electric Winch handle", even my 105# wife can manage these chores without difficulty and can trim in a 150% genoa on a tack a heck of a lot faster than our best (young) crewman manually.
One can, of course, spend the money for a dedicated winch, or, for a modest percentage of the cost, power all of the winches on one's boat.
"It is not so much for its beauty that the sea makes a claim upon men's hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air, that emanation from the waves, that so wonderfully renews a weary spirit."