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Windlass side loads

Got to thinking about snubbers and windlasses. I'm pretty good at installing a snubber, particularly if winds will be sustained above 10 kts, always above 15kts. Below that, I confess to not bother.

I've always done so to protect the gears in the chain gypsy from shock loading or from constant tension.

A comment was made somewhere about the side load that a windlass can accept, without being pulled off its mounts. I'm only guessing it would be less than that of a cleat. Although, since winches can take an awful lot of side load, I started scratching my head. We've all been warned not to use a winch as a cleat when docking, but I've always understood that to be due to the load not coming from the correct angle for its mount. Are they really incapable of take the load at all? Seems odd, given the amount of load on a close hauled 1,000sf genoa!

The windlass, on the other hand, would be taking a snubber's load from precisely the angle it was intended, straight over the bow roller.

This is why I got to thinking about it. When I attach my snubber, I let the rolling hitch run through the bow roller and down about 8 ft. I then tie the bitter end to a cleat on the foredeck. Given the angle, the snubber line will just chafe against the metal on the bow roller, so I actually allow it to run from the cleat, around the inside of the windlass warping drum and straight out the bow roller. No chafing.

That puts a side load on the windlass of some amount. Not the full force of anchor, but some. If a bad idea, I even wonder if a full wrap around the windlass would more evenly distribute the forces. I just can't get my head around this being bad for the windlass. I million years ago, I was taught to tie another line to the opposite cleat and pull the snubber to the center. In a real stink, I still do that, but I'm really wondering why now.
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Re: Windlass side loads

Well.... true story: A friend was using his windlass to recover a prawn trap on his Passport 40 (arguably as well built a boat as many) he ended up putting a side load on it and dislodged the entire assembly from the deck.. Hard to believe but it happened - to add insult to injury the prawn trap wasn't even full .

He's remounted it in such a way that even side loads can't do that anymore.. He had not had any issues with anchor retrieval prior to this incident, including several seasons in Mexico.

Best to seriously investigate how the thing's been mounted (and backed), I suppose.
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Re: Windlass side loads

I think to some extent it depends on the windlass. We have an old Ideal on board that will be removed next year. We now use the modern Quick which works fine but is not even close to being as beefy. I suspect that both would take a load from any direction but why bother?

We use a bridle for a snubber with a chain hook. The ends of the bridle go through very substantial chocks to also very strong cleats on either side of the bow. Once the bridle is rigged we let out several feet of chain so the chain is hanging down from roller usually to the water. With this arrangement the only load on the windlass is the weight about 8 feet of chain. We also always hook up the snubber for any overnight stop. It might be 8 knots at 1700 when you anchor but who knows what might happen at midnight.
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Re: Windlass side loads

I am no expert but I was instructed NOT to use the Maxwell windlass on my Catalina 36 MkII as a bollard. Coming to think of it, does that mean I should release/remove all tension from the windlass when anchored, and snub chain/rode to the cleats on the foredeck to avoid strain beyond a designed tolerance?
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Re: Windlass side loads

Your chain should not put a load on your windlass; that is what a chain stopper is for. It is even inadvisable to pull the anchor without powering up on the chain. I imagine your windlass manual will state this; my Lofrans manual does.
We take the snub line to a foredeck cleat (the only thing stronger on the boat are the gene winches), but through the chock with chafe gear, not the bow roller. I don't think the bow roller is strong enough on many boats while the chocks should be, were one to be caught anchored in rising seas or a surge. I believe the lead is fairer from the cleat to the chock, as well. We also find the boat sails considerably less at anchor than when we used the bow roller.
By the way, we use fire hose for chafe gear and we are still on our original snub line after 3 years on the hook, in various anchorages in the Antilles.
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Re: Windlass side loads

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Originally Posted by capta View Post
Your chain should not put a load on your windlass; that is what a chain stopper is for. It is even inadvisable to pull the anchor without powering up on the chain. I imagine your windlass manual will state this; my Lofrans manual does.
We take the snub line to a foredeck cleat (the only thing stronger on the boat are the gene winches), but through the chock with chafe gear, not the bow roller. I don't think the bow roller is strong enough on many boats while the chocks should be, were one to be caught anchored in rising seas or a surge. I believe the lead is fairer from the cleat to the chock, as well. We also find the boat sails considerably less at anchor than when we used the bow roller.
By the way, we use fire hose for chafe gear and we are still on our original snub line after 3 years on the hook, in various anchorages in the Antilles.
I have a Lofrans Albatross and the manual does say to use a subber and suggests a cleat. However, it gives no indication of the load it can carry or whether this because of stress on the gypsy clutch or the windlass mounts themselves. That's my curiosity.

For what it's worth, there is no practical way to affix a snubber to the chain in front of the bow roller on our boat and then lead it back through a chock on the side. At the least, one would need a chain hook (I tie it on) and a pole to reach in front of the pulpit and bow roller.
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Re: Windlass side loads

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Originally Posted by Minnewaska View Post
I have a Lofrans Albatross and the manual does say to use a subber and suggests a cleat. However, it gives no indication of the load it can carry or whether this because of stress on the gypsy clutch or the windlass mounts themselves. That's my curiosity.

For what it's worth, there is no practical way to affix a snubber to the chain in front of the bow roller on our boat and then lead it back through a chock on the side. At the least, one would need a chain hook (I tie it on) and a pole to reach in front of the pulpit and bow roller.
A windlass is not designed for, nor intended, to do other than hoist the weight of ones ground tackle for which virtually all factory installed windlasses, and most owner installed windlasses are sized. Moreover, a bow roller is not intended to take the surge loads of ground tackle. It is intended to allow rode to be recovered (by hand or windlass) with a minimum of friction on a yacht's rail/prow by the action of the roller. A single legged snubber lead through a fair-lead and then to a cleat can work but does load the bow "off center". Better to use a double snubber, with equal length legs, attached to the rode with a chain hook or rolling hitch with a substantial bight of chain released, lead through a chain stopper, and hanging down between the point of attachment to the rode and the yacht's prow. With this arrangement, ground tackle loading on the yacht is centered and the rode is held below the various and sundry hardware on one's prow and no unnecessary loading is applied to one's windlass.

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Re: Windlass side loads

This thread is interesting.

In storm conditions, yea, I'm doing everything and anything to distribute load. Snubber to cleats, chain stop, etc. I'm even putting out a second anchor if I can work it out. Mooring chaffing, reduce windage...whatever... We've made it through tropical storms, etc.

But on a normal night with 10-20kts or less in a settled mooring field, when I'm on a mooring with a pennant that is too big for everything including the cleats and chocks, I've been known to run it through the anchor roller and put the loop over the windlass drum, and sleep soundly.

Yea, I know, I could rig my own bridle, etc, etc. But I though the windlass could take a reasonable load like this. I'm assuming a good builder would back the bolts extensively, spread the load, etc. I suppose beyond a certain load the shaft of the windless could be bent?

Now you guys got me wondering about this

And I was sleeping really sound on that hawser!
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Re: Windlass side loads

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Originally Posted by capecodda View Post
...

But on a normal night with 10-20kts or less in a settled mooring field, when I'm on a mooring with a pennant that is too big for everything including the cleats and chocks, I've been known to run it through the anchor roller and put the loop over the windlass drum, and sleep soundly....

Now you guys got me wondering about this

....
Carry a 25/30 foot "utility line" of (depending upon the size of your yacht) perhaps 1/2" mooring 3-strand or brate. Secure one end to your starboard cleat, pass the other end, with a round turn, through the eye of the pendant from the mooring, under your bow, and back to your port cleat. The round turn prevents chafe at the pendant and the line will release itself when one end is cast off.
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Re: Windlass side loads

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Originally Posted by svHyLyte View Post
Carry a 25/30 foot "utility line" of (depending upon the size of your yacht) perhaps 1/2" mooring 3-strand or brate. Secure one end to your starboard cleat, pass the other end, with a round turn, through the eye of the pendant from the mooring, under your bow, and back to your port cleat. The round turn prevents chafe at the pendant and the line will release itself when one end is cast off.
Yes, yes, of course...I know this and have done it. My question is am I risking life limb and boat doing it the other way in reasonable conditions?
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