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Old 05-10-2011
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Winch handle in winch

I have seen many pictures of boats where the wich handles are left in the Jib winches while under way. I was taught to always remove the handle when not cranking. The rational was that the handle can get in the way of the line when unwrapping. On the other hand, a friend of mine has dropped two wing handles over the side when removing and putting in repeatedly. This gets expensive fast.

My handles lock in the winch so will not fall out but they do get in the way.

What do you think, leave in or remove when not in use?

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Old 05-10-2011
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You gave the answer to your question by the two explainations for the question.

Stow them in an accessable place. If you don't know the answer.
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Old 05-10-2011
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If you can't keep from losing the winch handle when removing and stowing it, electric winches are the only remaining option.
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Old 05-10-2011
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I was taught that way too, put the winch handle away when done. But in the reality, there is no hard fast rules. I find both have its pros and cons. I will just go by the captain's rule. If I were the captain, no rules

Having said that, if I am happy how the sails are doing and boat is heading, I will tidy up the cockpit and put away the winch handles.
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When I started sailing I was taught to never leave the winch handle in the winch after tacking or trimming. The reason was to avoid injury should the pawls fail and the sheet tension spin the handle with great force.

Iíve always been a little skeptical of this advice since Iíve never met anyone who knew anyone who was injured by a whizzing winch handle released by a failing pawl. However, I continued to remove my winch handle and stow it in a winch holder when not in use because my favourite winch handle was non-locking and I didnít want to lose it overboard, and I wanted the winch top to be unencumbered should I need to release the sheet quickly.

Iíve never had a boat where the winch handle being in the winch was a trip hazard to people stepping in and out of the cockpit but if I needed additional motivation for my Ďstow the handle after useí policy that would be it.

Recently I was discussing winch handle habits with another sailor and he said he always moved the handle over to the lazy winch after the tack, basically using the lazy winch as a winch handle holder and at the same time having it ready for the next tack. I canít think of an objection to this practice, if you have locking winch handles and the handle doesnít trip you when you leave the cockpit. And it doesnít risk injury should one of those pesky pawls give way.

So, thatís what I do now.
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Old 05-10-2011
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Your boat, your rules..

Personally, I leave it out. One reason is that I only keep one handle topside at a time. Usually in the cockpit coaming. The spares stay in a drawer below.
The jib sheet that would need the handle would be on the leeward side, if it slips out or gets hit by someone moving around, it's in the water.

If I do happen to leave it in a winch, it's usually to the mainsheet on the cabin top under the dodger.
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Old 05-10-2011
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This is related but slightly off topic as I don't have the experience to be helpful.

Why don't the handles have idiot straps to go over the wrist, something that would fit at least loosely? Or at least holes for simple loops that rookies might use? I'm thinking about something like ski pole straps.

I dropped a winch handle in the bay on the first tack by my fellow student. He put the rail well underwater and I thought that I was going into the bay head first. Of course, once I learned how expensive (over-priced) those simple devices were, I was better able to hold on.
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Old 05-10-2011
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I used my winches for the first time this past weekend.
I took them out after using to make sure no lines got wrapped around it.. i have enough stuff to worry about..
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Old 05-10-2011
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I have never lost a single one since I bought the floating winch handles.
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Old 05-10-2011
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I was taught to remove the winch handle as they have a mind of their own and like to jump out of the boat. Always have stowed the winch handle in the cubby on what ever side I used it last. Of course, this may be because I do not own my own boat and sail through a club/share and don't want to take any chances having to replace what seem to be gold plated items.....
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