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Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > Learning to Sail
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Old 03-01-2012
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Winch safety

OK, here is a basic question:

I have been sailing with winches for a while, but, I'm not sure I am doing the correct things to keep my hands safe. What exactly are my hands supposed to be doing when I wrap the winch, and when I trim?
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Old 03-01-2012
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Start with 2 wraps around the winch; more than that can lead to overrides.

Use you arms to bring in the slack.

When you can no longer use your arms; fill the winch with wraps - probably around five.

When wrapping, use ONE hand; do not use the other to loop the line over the winch. If the lines starts to run you may grab the line with your dominant hand and pull your less dominant hand into the winch. The safest method to to have your pinkies nearest the winch with your thumb up. (I do not always do this.)

If the winch is self-tailing go over the feeder and then in to the grip.

After the lines has been tensioned by hand, place the winch handle into the winch and then harden as needed.

When finished, put the winch handle away.

When easing a line on a winch cup your hand on the filled line on the winch and use it to roll the line out in a controlled fashion.

When releasing sheet when coming about, wait until the foresail backwinds slightly and then spin the sheet off the winch and let it go.

When the working sheet has been hardened, put 2 wraps of the lazy sheet around the winch and you are good to go for the next time.

Good video



I do not like to racket winch handles back and forth.

I would not release the mainsheet with bare feet.
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Last edited by jackdale; 03-01-2012 at 01:33 PM.
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(I've edited out overlap from JD..)

Other than that , keep your body out of the sheet tail... after you trim and cleat a working sheet, gather the tail into coils (leave the figure 8 in) and lay the coils down where no on is sitting or standing. When you release the sheet, everyone needs to be clear of the coils as the sheet will play out quite fast.

Also, keep the rest of your body out of the arc of the winch handle, especially your head. Make sure all your pawls are clean (light oil not grease) and functional so a winch is not at risk of suddenly reversing under load.



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Last edited by sailingfool; 03-01-2012 at 01:34 PM.
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SF

I find that flaking the line presents fewer problem that coiling, even with leaving the figure 8's in.

If you need to get more oomph into the winch, stand over it with one foot on the toerail and one foot on the seat. Use your hips and your whole body weight, rather than your arms or back.

Or buy bigger winches.

Or buy longer inch handles.


Also if you are ever using an electric winch DO NOT LEAVE THE WINCH HANDLE AND HIT THE BUTTON. The handle spins at a tremendous speed. It is quite scary.
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Thanks guys. This is just the description I was looking for. From the video it looks like he is using both hands to guide the line around the drum. I seem to remember an ASA instructor freaking out when my wife used both hands in manner similar to this. Other videos I have seen have the right hand lightly holding the line about 2 feet from the winch, and the left hand guiding the line around the drum. In a different J school video, it looked like they were instructing the students to rest the line in a ring formed by the thumb and first finger as it guides the line around the drum. That is what was confusing me.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Barquito View Post
Thanks guys. This is just the description I was looking for. From the video it looks like he is using both hands to guide the line around the drum. I seem to remember an ASA instructor freaking out when my wife used both hands in manner similar to this.
I think he was being a bit lazy there. Later he uses one hand.


Quote:
Other videos I have seen have the right hand lightly holding the line about 2 feet from the winch, and the left hand guiding the line around the drum.
You will see a lot of that on race boats. Also on race boats the winch handles tend to be left in.

Quote:
In a different J school video, it looked like they were instructing the students to rest the line in a ring formed by the thumb and first finger as it guides the line around the drum. That is what was confusing me.
That also works, but if the line runs you can suffer more damage to you thumb and forefinger.
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My previous boat had bottom acting winches so the handles were always in there.

My new old boat has conventional self tailers and the winch handles have a little gizmo that holds them in. My only previous experience was on a race where we always left the handles in.

How bad is it to leave the handles in. I can see the danger if a pawl breaks or slips but is there something else I am missing.
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When adding wraps to the winch use ONE hand, keep tension on the line at all times and ALWAYS keep the edge of your hand (pinkie side) towards the winch. NEVER pay line out through the tips of your fingers. If the sail jerks and it sucks the line in to the winch you could break a finger or if it's a big enough winch and load, lose a finger.
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Yeah... essentially NEVER let any fingers get between the sheet and the drum, no matter how far from the drum it may seem at the time.
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....
How bad is it to leave the handles in. I can see the danger if a pawl breaks or slips but is there something else I am missing.
Non-locking handles left in winches often end up over the side.
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