Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Vancouver, BC
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Rep Power: 0
Alrighty, I'll weigh in with my two cent's worth on this one, although I think it largely rests on the captain's preference. I have once had a pawl skip in 35 knots of wind, and the speeding winch handle just about broke the back of my hand - it certainly burst some blood vessels. This highlights the need to annually service your winches, so that your pawls don't skip.
I do use a floating winch handle (it locks into place, too). I've had it overboard once, and retrieved it from the towed dinghy with little fanfare. It was worth going back for, because it's an $80.00 handle.
I used to stow my winch handles between use, but the reality is that it's most likely to go swimming when being put into place in the winch, so why not minimize the likelihood of having to retrieve it by locking it into place in the leeward winch. I chose this method after speaking to a few of my circumnavigating friends, who told me they leave the handle in place in the leeward winch for days at a time on the open ocean, where they never have to look for it if they need it in a hurry.
I never allow the handle to be stored in the windward winch, because I don't want my crew wrapping a winch that has a handle in it prior to a tack; I have a procedure for winch handling that precludes putting on the handle until the sheet has been hand tightened with one wrap until resistance is felt, then 3 wraps applied, then the winch handle put into place and the sheet hardened with the winch. This is SOP during instruction in any of the major yachting associations, so I'll stick with it until something that makes more sense comes along.
SeaLife Sailing (Sailing School Operator)
s/v 'Ma Provence'