Friday, 25 September 2015

Electric Windlass

The "final" major upgrade we planned after the first season was to sort out the anchoring system.

Genesis came with a 25lb CQR as the bower anchor. This came with 5m of 8mm chain and 45m or 12mm 3-strand nylon. Our experiences of anchoring in the Bristol channel quickly showed up a few problems with this set up.

The first problem was the poor holding capability of the CQR in the strong tides and mud/sand combination off Cardiff. The CQR was also a bit of a pig to recover and secure as it would not go on the original bow roller. We resolved to rectify the situation and fit a new bow roller with a self launching anchor and a windlass to do the retrieval.

A further problem was our seemingly unique ability to wrap the anchor rode around the keel on 2 out of every 3 anchoring sessions. This always happened when the tide reversed and was a real PITA. We had mixed luck "unravelling" the situation. Sometimes we got it right by motoring in a wide circle and unwinding the rode from the keel. Other times we couldn't figure out which way to motor and ended up undoing the bitter end and tossing it over the side with a fender attached and then retrieving it.

Some research on the web highlighted that we weren't the only hapless victims of this particular problem. The solution seemed to be either all-chain or an "angel" i.e. a weight that slides down the anchor rode to ensure it is pulled strait down.

We decided in the end to buy 40m of chain. We chose 6mm chain after some research. This size would be sufficiently strong to anchor our 26ft lightish boat, but would not add a huge amount of weight in the anchor locker (30 kg). We bought a 6kg Delta copy to go on the end. The windlass is a Lofrans X1 which has been mounted on the anchor locker lid.

Update: One season on and the decision to install the windlass has proved itself time and again. Delta copy & chain works well ad we've yet to have a dragging problem or a failure to set.  The only negatives have been the foot switches (bloody useless - now replaced with a wired remote) and the shallow anchor locker. The chain piles up in a nice pyramid in the shallow locker and eventually jams the incoming chain. This necessitates opening the locker after every 15-20m of chain recovered to flatten the chain pile. Nothing I can do about the depth of the anchor locker but apparently stainless steel chain would solve the problem as it tends to "flow" better than galvanised chain. At roughly £350 for 40m it's never going to happen!

Update 2: I've finally used the warping drum on the windlass. It's proved very useful for hauling the tender on board. I clip the spinnaker halyard onto the towing eye and route the halyard via a turning block on the toe rail to the drum. This makes hauling the tender up n deck an absolute doddle.

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