winch handles - in or out? - SailNet Community

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Go Back   SailNet Community > General Interest > General Discussion (sailing related)
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  #1  
Old 04-09-2008
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winch handles - in or out?

Sailors - I was taught and have continued to teach crew that right after complaining about the food coming out of the galley, the next greatest sin is leaving a winch handle in a winch. Potential damage to shins, to wrists, etc. (I learned this prior to the advent of self-tailing winches - which to my mind makes no difference, but might be considered a factor in decisions.)

I continue to be surprised to see pictures in Sail, Cruising World, SailNet et al of winch handles sitting in winches. Has practice evolved and I am holding on to a teaching that is past its use by date?

What do you do on your boat?
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Old 04-09-2008
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I've always kept the winch handle in the windward winch after a couple turns of the lazy-sheet around the drum. Since I usually solo-sail, I prefer it to be cocked and ready for quick use when the time comes to come-about.
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Old 04-09-2008
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I know of one at 18,000 ft down that was left in the winch.
A whipping sheet caught it and condemned it to the Atlantic depths.
It was a good winch handle too, one of my originals.
Don't leave then in the winch.
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Old 04-09-2008
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For me, i like to keep them in the primary winches. lets you trim the working sheet and the lazy is ready for use when you tack. winch handle comes out for the tack so that the working sheet can be released properly. do the same for racing and cruising.
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Old 04-09-2008
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I think that "sin" is partly a vestige of earlier days when winch handles did not have a locking mechanism, and many boats only carried one working handle with a single spare. There was a high risk of losing that handle overboard if it was left in the winch and then accidentally bumped or caught by a flailing line.

Nowadays, most winch handles have a positive locking mechanism, and most boats carry an assortment of winch handles. That said, we still remove ours unless there is a constant need for adjustments, such as when short tacking upwind.
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Old 04-09-2008
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I was taught don't leave your winch handles in or your fenders down.
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Old 04-09-2008
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Captain of the first keel boat I crewed on taught me the winch handle always comes off the winch when you are done grinding and goes back in its pocket.
In the same spirit, fenders are stowed in the lazarette or below when sailing - otherwise you look like a stinkpot.
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Old 04-09-2008
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Well Jim.... there's the 'Right Way' and the 'Easy Way'. I think you were taught and are teaching the 'Right Way'. With me, similar to TB, once my wife has put away the docklines and fenders and maybe helped me raise the sails - I'm single handing, while my wife kicks back and relaxes. So since I'm the only one dashing around the cockpit I do what ever is easiest for me. Sailing around NGBay is a constant exercise in wind shift and speed correction so I usually leave the handle in active winch until tacking time.
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Old 04-09-2008
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To me, if they lock, leave em in if you'll be using them frequently. Non-locking = take them out, and put in a safe place.
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Old 04-09-2008
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Out

On my boat, the rule is out after grinding is done and the sails are trimmed. Most of the time we set and forget and are crusing and not racing, so conversation and relaxing is in order. This is 90% of the time.

However, if I (or someone else when I at at the helm) am so inclined, and in the mood, and want to constantly trim jibsheet, I will leave it in provided that someone is constantly watching/trimming. Usually we do this when we are "racing" or in puffy/shifty wind conditions, so we are already in a more active sailing role.

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