Floating Winch Handle - Page 3 - SailNet Community
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post #21 of 28 Old 07-21-2019 Thread Starter
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Re: Floating Winch Handle

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I dropped a pocket knife off the dock. I used a powerful magnet to try to fish it back up, and found a child's bicycle instead.
LOL - The fish are clever, but they don't have instructions on HOW to assemble a boat. I suspect that was a failed prototype.
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post #22 of 28 Old 07-21-2019
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Re: Floating Winch Handle

GREETINGS EARTHLINGS : call me old school but why not drill a small hole in the main arm and put a lanyard on it and that can then get affixed to the winch or the boat but I am a FAN of never leaving it unattended in the winch AS ALWAYS GO SAFE .
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post #23 of 28 Old 07-21-2019
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Re: Floating Winch Handle

I know the conventional wisdom is to remove the winch handle when it's not in active use, but I'm a racer and fairly frequent singlehander, and do what is safe and efficient.

I usually leave the winch handle in the winch at all times, except in strong, gusty air when I might have to blow the sheet suddenly. I make small adjustments to sheet tension frequently, and it's inefficient to keep inserting and removing the winch handle every time, especially when singlehanding. Before each tack I put 2-3 wraps on the lazy winch and move the winch handle from the working winch to the lazy winch. By doing those things before the tack, I don't have to do them afterward, when time is limited and I don't have enough hands to do everything. The winch handle usually stays in the winch until the next tack.

AFAIK, if winches are cleaned and lubed, the only way a winch handle would spin wildly would be if all the pawls broke at the same time. If that happened, I'm pretty sure I'd be smart enough to not try to grab it until it stopped spinning.

The winch handle can make it awkward if you need to put an extra wrap on the winch under load, but it can be done if you keep the line taut while you put on the extra wrap. Also, it might be in the way if you have a line override itself, but one handed winch handles can be removed easily, with one hand.

Generally, I think a winch handle should be in a winch if you intend to use it, and in a winch pocket otherwise, but, when I'm racing, it's used frequently.
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post #24 of 28 Old 07-21-2019
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Re: Floating Winch Handle

When sailing I keep the winch handle in the active winch so that it is there are ready to go whenever adjustments are needed. When preparing to tack the lazy sheet is loaded onto the windward winch, and the handle transferred to that winch before the tack.

I guess maybe it is a racer habit to always have the handle in the active winch. The only time the handle is in the pocket is when it is not needed because the loads are low enough to muscle the sheets.

For the record I have never seen anyone fall on a winch handle that is in a winch, even in chaotic mark roundings. I suppose it could happen...but highly unlikely. The idea that the winch handle could spin if the pawls break is also highly unlikely. While I have seen winch handles kick back due to sticking pawls, I have never seen it happen when the sheet is cleated, because that just can't happen. I'm not sure if it can even happen on a self tailing winch. A poorly maintained winch is going to start skipping cogs long before it fails completely, giving lots of warning that service is needed.

We had one grinder on one boat I raced on who was notorious for losing winch handles overboard...because he always took them out and put them on the bench beside him. After the 3rd lost harken handle we instituted a new rule...you lose it, you buy it. He was much more careful after that!

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post #25 of 28 Old 07-21-2019
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Re: Floating Winch Handle

We found the best way to not loose winch handles is to buy a boat that came with electric winches. problem solved
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post #26 of 28 Old 07-22-2019
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Re: Floating Winch Handle

Ever drop a wooden boat hook overboard? They do float, but vertically, with only a couple of inches of the metal hook visible, bobbing up and down in the waves.
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post #27 of 28 Old 07-22-2019
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I always thought the concept of a floating winch handle was pretty stupid. Especially for racers. They're not going back for it, and as the OP's story demonstrates, you're probably not going to recover it if you do. It is good practice for MOB though.
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post #28 of 28 Old 07-22-2019
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Re: Floating Winch Handle

I leave the handle in the sheet self tailing winch im using and double back free end of sheet so i can pull and pop it free if needed
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