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Seamanship & Navigation Forum devoted to seamanship and navigation topics, including paper and electronic charting tools.


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  #1  
Old 06-17-2010
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Raising anchor w/ winches

Hypothetical situation: Assuming calm water with a light breeze. You are anchored out on 100+ ft (about 30m) of chain, 40 ft (12m) to the bottom, with a 100+lb anchor, and the windlass breaks so that it cannot be used. All that chain is going to be heavy so you decide to use a warp (right word ?) to pull the anchor up using a winch in the cockpit.

My question is - how is this done ?

I imagine you are bringing the anchor up in stages, attaching the warp to the chain at the bow of the boat and turning the line on the winch until you have pulled the attachment point back to the winch and need to reattach at the bow, but I am not sure what else you have to take into consideration when doing this.
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Old 06-17-2010
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That method would have the chain dragging on the deck from bow to winch and would make a mess and might chew up teak decks, but be relatively fast. The other method, only practical with 2 people, is to only pull in as much chain as is between the furthest the forward person can attach a line to and where the chain drops into the chain locker at a time (alternatively in warm water one could dive down on the chain as far as possible to attach the winch line).
That scenario sucks, I've had to use the manual handle on my windlass before and it seemed to take forever to get the chain up and was a LOT of work.
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Old 06-17-2010
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See Abstract Comments at: manual windlass
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Old 06-17-2010
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Pending on the type winch you have, you may be able to use a 1/2" battery powered drill with a socket as a backup power source.
Using tackle, a two fold or double luff, attached up the mast aways to lift said chain & anchor. Snubbing off the chain as you go for another bight of it. Landing the chain on the fore peak only on top of an old sail or sailbags, or fair leading down into the chail locker as you slack off on the tackle.
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Thank you all for the thoughtful responses, this is very helpful.

Zanshin, I had not thought of diving on the chain to attach the line at a lower point, that is an interesting thought. Maybe you could even attach to the anchor and pull it up first ? and bring the chain up after it. Or attach a line to the anchor with a float before you even set it so that you could use the line later to pull the anchor up if you needed to, but then somebody might pull on the line and unset your anchor.

Hmm, I wonder if you could attach a float to the anchor that was just enough to float the line but not unset your anchor, then lead the line back to the boat, then you could pull the float under the water so that nobody could grab it, and only release it so that the float came to the surface if you needed to pull the anchor up using the line.

svHyLyte, that seems like a good solution, using two winches instead of one, it seems like it would save you from having to tie off the chain you have already brought on deck while you move your line back up to the bow.

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Originally Posted by Boasun View Post
Pending on the type winch you have, you may be able to use a 1/2" battery powered drill with a socket as a backup power source.
Using tackle, a two fold or double luff, attached up the mast aways to lift said chain & anchor. Snubbing off the chain as you go for another bight of it. Landing the chain on the fore peak only on top of an old sail or sailbags, or fair leading down into the chail locker as you slack off on the tackle.
Boasun, thank you so much for answering. I am curious, does it matter how high on the mast you attach the tackle, I mean, is there more mechanical advantage to it if it is higher on the mast because of the angles involved ? Also, how would you move the line to take another bight of the chain, meaning how would you keep the chain from slipping back into the water as you moved the line to get another bight ? Thank you for using the right terminology, I am still learning and it helps me learn when I read it.
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Last edited by wind_magic; 06-17-2010 at 01:35 PM. Reason: Edit
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Old 06-17-2010
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The advantage is that you are lifting the chain up in the air and not dragging it across your deck. and when you slack off on the tackle you are laying the chain on the deck and not dragging it.
Securing the tackle about where your lower shrouds are at if you have radar and other items on the mast. and if the mast clear, to the height of where you feel comfortable in hoisting that much weight. Plus use chaffing gear to protect your deck, hatches and vents. Thats why I said old sail or sailbags.

Some people & ships do use anchor buoys to mark where their anchors are at. that buoy pendant is about one or two fathoms longer than the depth of the water at the highest of tides while you are there. The pendant could be strong enough to lift the lighter yacht anchors... but not the heavier ship's anchors.
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Last edited by Boasun; 06-17-2010 at 03:15 PM.
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Tried the method described by Zanshin this April.

A charter in BVI, no windlass, I guess they assumed everybody uses a mooring ball.

We had to much chain out in 25ft on a sandy bottom. To much chain because as my daughter dropped the anchor the chain was going to fast and I told her not to hurt herself trying to stop it.

Pull in some rode until we were comfortable with the scope for the night, checked shore landmarks for reference if we started drifting. All OK.

Next morning try to bring in the anchor, to much chain for one person.

So I pull up about two arms length, daughter cleats off and drops loose chain in locker, pause and repeat, and repeat,.... Half an hour later we are on our way and I have some serious blisters.

Back at base, charter company has new electric windlass on order. Good to know we can haul a lot of chain if a windlass fails but I would rather not do it again.
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Old 06-17-2010
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We have a 30 ft snubber line with a chain hook, plus a chain stopper in front of the windlass. We lead the snubber linesaft to a halyard winch by the mast, pull in about 10 ft, then stop the chain and reset the hook. Its a lot of work, and we avoid deep anchorages until the windlass is fixed.
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Old 06-18-2010
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For years we sailed a 29’ boat without a windlass. We did have a bow roller and a Windline chain stopper however. For hauling in the chain I had a U-shaped cleat bolted about 2.5’ above the end of the 6’ long shaft of an old oak oar with a non-skid rubber “foot” on the short end made from a piece of an old tire. Lay that down on the deck next to the chain and slip a link close to the chain stopper through the U-Cleat. Then lift up the handle end. If you have a foot block handy (we did) you can rotate the handle all the way aft and down to the deck quite easily. With our arrangement I was hauling in 5+ feet of chain with every lift with the chain stopper grabbing the chain while I rotated the handle back for the next lift. It is a bit time consuming but it saved my back many times in deep anchorages in the Channel Islands. (This was an arrangement I learned from Eric and Susan Hiscock while they were moored next to us in Sausalito on a stop-over on their trip to NZ in Wanderer IV in 1970 or so.)

FWIW…
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Old 06-18-2010
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A chain pawl goes a long way to making the windlass going out survivable.
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