SailNet Community banner

1 - 20 of 31 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
61 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm a week away from owning my first boat. In a conversation with the owner, he advised me of the proper use of a electric windlass. He said to never use the windlass to pull the boat. Always idle the boat forward while taking up the slack. I knew that part. What surprised me was that he said you aren't supposed to run the windlass constantly. He said to use it in 3 second bursts. I found that part odd. He made it sound like you run the risk of the chain binding or jumping the roller if you ran it constantly. When you pull in your anchor, do you run the windlass full bore up?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,667 Posts
Windlass motors aren't continuous run ones, but 3sec is a bit short - they can definitely run longer than that with no problem. If the chain is binding or jumping, then either the chain is bad or mismatched to the gypsy, or the gypsy is worn. It should never jump the roller, although it could pile up in the chain locker to the point of jamming if the locker isn't deep enough. Otherwise, you should be able pull up all of your chain in one go.

However, pulling it all up in one go isn't how most do it because of practical reasons. These include washing mud off, knocking down a chain pile, reorienting the boat, etc. So in practice, chain usually comes up in several lengths/times of windlass operation.

A windlass shouldn't be used to pull the boat to the anchor, but the boat also doesn't always need to be driven to the anchor. Our usual procedure is to use the windlass to take up the slack loop in the chain, then let the weight of the chain pull the boat forward, and take up more slack, wait, etc. This usually brings the boat to the anchor in up to 20kt winds without ever "pulling" it by the windlass, nor motoring toward it. This method has the advantage that the boat never gets turned sideways or out of control because of too much slack and wind/current.

Mark
 

·
bell ringer
Joined
·
5,130 Posts
I dont think the word continous really applies to a windlass. Sometimes in calm conditions i might run my windlass all the way to 1:1 scope. That is nly maybe 1-2 mnutes. That isnt “continous”.

But i also dont run it a lng time under a lot of stress on it. It will just trip then.
 

·
Master Mariner
Joined
·
9,111 Posts
I'm with ColeMJ on this one. We've found that motoring ahead we often get the chain wrapped around something. By using the catenary to pull the boat to the anchor we have an easier time. This also keeps the run time down as I'm also not happy running it continuously. However, the windlass is rated for around 1000# of pull and our complete #1 is only around 700#. That still doesn't mean that we can drop it all in deep water and retrieve it, a mistake a few I know have made, at great expense.
We'll often let her to lay broadside to the wind while we are securing the anchor and stowing the snub line. That makes it really easy to roll out some, or all, of the Yankee, when we are sailing off our anchor.
We may run it longer when taking someone aloft, but that is still in spurts as the person going aloft needs to get by shrouds and spreaders.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
42 Posts
The problem with so many electric windlasses has nothing to do with the mechanics of chain and gipsies (however you spell that) but rather with the usually very inadequate wiring and fusing that is used to support it. Correctly sized wiring for an electric bow windlass is really expensive and many boat owners opt for marginal solutions - the kind that usually work for about 3 seconds at a time. (See what I did there?)

If I were you I would take this as a huge red flag and have the whole layout looked at with a really jaundiced eye by someone who knows exactly what is required. You can turn your boat into a thermite grenade with an electrical fire and I can't think of a better way to do it than with a sketchy electrical windlass installation.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
61 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for the tips all. I understand the comment of using it in increments, and am glad that the suggestion for 3 seconds seemed awfully short. As for the wiring, It is currently sized for about a 5-8% voltage drop (I'm guestimating the length of wire). I'll be relocating some of the wiring and will probably run new wire at about a 5% drop once the new battery bank is in.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,307 Posts
You use a windlass to remove the catenary in the chain. When anchored to chain "droops" downward and forms a catenary. To weigh anchor use the windlass to "remove the catenary"... making the chain straight. But what happens is the chain being heavy forms another catenary and as it is shorter now IT pulls the boat toward the anchor. As the windlass winds in chain the chain keeps sagging and pull the boat to the anchor. The boat gets some forward moment... especially with light or no air. You are NOT pulling the boat to the anchor with the windlass. YOU ARE continually removing the catenary.

If you had a length of chain and suspended it between to poles.... it would sag of course. And its weight would be pulling the poles together... because the horizontal force vector. In a boat the anchor is "one fixed pole" and the boat is the other... floating and movable.

The chain will not be dead straight unless the wind force is very strong. In normal anchoring there is ALWAYS a catenary.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,307 Posts
+1 on the wiring concerns.
I did not get a separate windlass battery and charge and run wiring... I RAN large wires from the house bank where I mounted the windlass switch and there is a large ANL breaker. The battery cable size wires were spendy, but the install was simple. I think the cost of the cables was not more than the "local separate battery approach" Why do I need another battery to worry about. Engine in on when the windlass is used so amps out are being replaced.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
762 Posts
I did not get a separate windlass battery and charge and run wiring... I RAN large wires from the house bank where I mounted the windlass switch and there is a large ANL breaker. The battery cable size wires were spendy, but the install was simple. I think the cost of the cables was not more than the "local separate battery approach" Why do I need another battery to worry about. Engine in on when the windlass is used so amps out are being replaced.
A friend of mine recently did the same. The guy installing the windlass talked him out of the dedicated battery. He explained the reason in "electromagical," I'm not confident in re-explaining it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,307 Posts
A friend of mine recently did the same. The guy installing the windlass talked him out of the dedicated battery. He explained the reason in "electromagical," I'm not confident in re-explaining it.
I think wiring to the house bank is the simplest...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,307 Posts
And saves the weight of another battery up front - also one less maintenance item.
the cables are quite heavy but the weight is low and distributed from the batts to the windlass.
 

·
Registered
Aloha 32 & Hunter 26.5
Joined
·
224 Posts
Running continuously beats on the motor (gets it hot). Plugging & Jogging (frequent starts/stops) beats on the control relay. Contactors (big control relays) frequently have plugging/jogging ratings that are far lower than their constant use ratings. Both the motor & the relay get beat on by heavy loads. 200 feet of chain straight down with a 100# anchor is a heavy load. Pulling the boat forward with the windlass is a foolishly heavy load. If you have less than 50’ of 5/16” (or smaller) chain out in 10 feet of water or less & you motor the boat forward so that the angel of the chain is within 20 degrees of vertical as you pull it in, running continuously should not cause a problem unless the windlass is seriously undersized. If you are pulling in 200 feet of 3/8” chain & you can hear the windlass bogging down, you are going to want to take it in a few bites.

If the gypsy is skipping, it could be a few things. As was said, an improper or worn gypsy is one possibility. Another possibility is a chain locker that is not deep enough or one that has too much chain piled in it. If the chain doesn’t have enough drop distance, then there is not enough weight hanging to pull the chain through the deck hole fast enough. This is especially true on vertical head "capstans". Even in a given “size” of chain, like 5/16” or 3/8”, there are different link shapes, like HT & BBB. The gypsy is usually stamped with the size/type it is made for. You do need the right one.

The need for a dedicated battery depends on a lot of things, like how big is your house bank? How heavily is it already loaded? Do you plan to anchor in deep water? How often do you plan to pull up the anchor in a given time period? How much current does your windlass draw? It’s not a simple question.

See what your surveyor says.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2 Posts
My marine electrician insists that our windlass should be run off the start battery rather than the house and he has recommended that I rewire it accordingly. I'm dubious about this. As it happens, the house bank (4 Trojan 6v golf cart batteries) is much closer to the windlass than the start battery (AGM CCA 750 90amp). His change will involve extensive recabling plus relocating the windlass breaker. I know this is a much discussed topic. Does anyone have any view about what is preferable?
 

·
Banned
Oceanis 38
Joined
·
31 Posts
My marine electrician insists that our windlass should be run off the start battery rather than the house and he has recommended that I rewire it accordingly. I'm dubious about this.
I believe your electrician's goal was to have it wired to the starter battery for direct access to the alternator. Perhaps he's trying to save your house bank and/or whatever charging isolator may be in-between the battery bank & alternator from the shocks that a windlass can place on it [or them]; whereas the alternator [w/eng running] would take the load in stride. I would suggest that you obtain a 2nd opinion, because it certainly isn't a trivial modification. Good luck.
 

·
Registered
Wouquiez Centurion 40
Joined
·
38 Posts
I'm a week away from owning my first boat. In a conversation with the owner, he advised me of the proper use of a electric windlass. He said to never use the windlass to pull the boat. Always idle the boat forward while taking up the slack. I knew that part. What surprised me was that he said you aren't supposed to run the windlass constantly. He said to use it in 3 second bursts. I found that part odd. He made it sound like you run the risk of the chain binding or jumping the roller if you ran it constantly. When you pull in your anchor, do you run the windlass full bore up?
Hi, I don't see any reason for not operating the windlass for more then 3 sec. The only reason why the owner says so might be that the windlass is going too fast and the chain starts bumping. Furthermore one should always control that the anchor chain does not get stuck or makes a "mountain" in the anchor chain box instead of falling properly.
Klazien
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
762 Posts
My marine electrician insists that our windlass should be run off the start battery rather than the house and he has recommended that I rewire it accordingly. I'm dubious about this. As it happens, the house bank (4 Trojan 6v golf cart batteries) is much closer to the windlass than the start battery (AGM CCA 750 90amp). His change will involve extensive recabling plus relocating the windlass breaker. I know this is a much discussed topic. Does anyone have any view about what is preferable?
I suppose it makes sense in that the windlass can produce short, high amp loads like the starter does and your start battery is better suited to that application than the deep cycle batteries in your house bank.
 
1 - 20 of 31 Posts
Top