Join Date: Feb 2006
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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.