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Old 06-01-2008, 05:47 PM   #1
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Windlass & anchoring

OK, here's a really embarassing question to have to ask.* I haven't been able to find anything in Chapmans, on line, or elsewhere.

Boats that I've chartered or crewed on in the past either had no windlass or a bidirectional windlass.* In both cases, I could pretty much figure out how to get the anchor out & down.

But the McMurray on my Rawson has one button only - up.

I note that there's a wheel on the outside of the gypsy, and friction plates on both sides of the gypsy.* So I'm guessing that the gypsy can freewheel by backing off on the wheel.* I played with it for a few minutes and currently I can back off the wheel, but the gypsy and the shaft appear to be as one - I'm thinking that a little penetrant and friendly persuasion would likely fix that.

So - before doing something that I might regret - is it safe to assume that I can back off the wheel a bit, get the anchor away, and use the gypsy and a little friction to give a controlled decent?*

Also - this is the first boat I've run with an all-chain rode.* Anything that I should know about that before I goof something up?

Thanks...
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Old 06-01-2008, 07:08 PM   #2
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RE: Windlass & anchoring

I'd think twice before using penetrant on there. You WANT friction between the metal plates and the friction plates. I'd err on the side of taking it apart and cleaning things up that way. The oil in the penetrant will cause some swelling and some slipperyness that you might not want.

The best piece of advice I can give on all chain rode is to let out chain to the depth of the water (+water to pulpit) and then make sure the boat is moving backwards before dropping more chain. The reason being, that if the boat is sitting still the chain will pile up on the anchor and might foul in the flukes when it does draw taut. It may be that the current/tide is moving you enough to keep the anchor from fouling or you may need to encourage the boat to move some before dropping the final amount of chain.

Ken
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Old 06-01-2008, 08:59 PM   #3
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RE: Windlass & anchoring

I can't speak for the McMurray but the big no-name windless that came with our boat had only a single footswitch for powering the windlass in the retrieve direction. Deploying the anchor was simply a matter of backing off on the large bronze brake wheel and letting the wildcat freewheel the chain out. Adjusting the brake wheel while the chain was going out gave us control over the speed.

The new windless we installed last year, a Lofrans Tigres, has footswitches for powering out and in but it can be freewheeled out as well using the brake wheel and the supplied lever that fits over the brake wheel spokes.

The Tigres uses a cone clutch for friction. The no-name windlass it replaced used friction plates on each side of the wildcat. I just took the photo of the old windlass out in our garage and you can see the friction plates on each side of the wildcat. The brake wheel clamps everything together (the outer plate is off its keyway which is why there are gaps between everything, and why*the rim of the outboard friction plate is not flush with the wildcat).

In addition to Ken's good advice regarding deploying an all-chain rode I'll add that all-chain rode is not at all forgiving of fingers. Be REAL careful when deploying and retrieving the anchor to keep you hands and fingers away from places where they could bet pulled in between the chain and the wildcat or pulpit rollers.

-- Edited by Marin at 12:03, 2008-06-02
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Old 06-01-2008, 09:52 PM   #4
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RE: Windlass & anchoring

With an all chain rode you really want to be sure and use a snubber line to absorb the stress from the ground tackle and send it to something (cleats) that can handle the load.
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Old 06-02-2008, 09:14 AM   #5
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RE: Windlass & anchoring

We have the same type of windless on Ancora. Our problem is with the chain piling up in the chain locker on retrieval and causing the chain to slip off the wildcat. So far, our only fix is to have someone flake out the chain in the chain locker when pulling up the anchor. If there is another fix, we would sure like to know about it.
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Old 06-03-2008, 04:15 AM   #6
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RE: Windlass & anchoring

"If there is another fix, we would sure like to know about it."


The fix is a pain to do , the chain locker must be rebuilt into a deep and narrow locker.

That way the chain can only pile on it self , and the pile cant fall over , messing up the chain when its shot.

If you build it out of ply , be sure to have enough water holes so if needed the chain can be slused down in place to get rid of the mud stench.

Skeens I think has the dimensions , as does any number of B Bingham sail books.

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Old 06-03-2008, 09:46 AM   #7
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RE: Windlass & anchoring

We have a windless like your that only power up.* You can convert it to a power down and a power up sold at most marine stores.* Which seems a bit slow to me as you have to hold the position.*

*
The Gypsy should free wheel by turning the wheel and backing off the two pressure plates.* Every year it gets stuck so I taker a screw drive to pry the pressure plats apart, with the chain in the gypsy and the end of the anchor secured so the anchor can not move, then bump the windless to loosen the gypsy.I just did that last night seeing you post.* *If you have to use penetrating oil be sure to clean it off the pressure plates after.* ***

*
The way I let down the anchor is to use the wheel/pressure plates as a break to control the speed.* I have seen other just let the anchor go and let it drop.* I did that a couple of time but still had to*use the wheel/break to slow/stop the chain.

*
To keep from piling to high let out all the chain and flat/spread out *in the bottom of*locker then start letting the chain pile up. We have 200 ft of chain but the last 50 ft is very seldom used. Might have to play with it to get it right.* The chain locker might to so small for the amount of chain you have.* As FF said maybe you and enlarger/modity te chain locker.*

*
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Old 06-03-2008, 10:53 AM   #8
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RE: Windlass & anchoring

We always left our old friction plate windlass with the brake wheel backed off. That way the friction plates never "bonded" to the wildcat and we never had a sticking problem. We do the same thing today with our new Tigres and leave the cone clutch loosened until we're actually going to operate the windlass.

We always secure the deployed rode to one or two deck cleats using one or two snubbers so there is no pressure at all on the windlass or the pulpit. And we never set the anchor using the pulpit and windlass to pull against, we have a short line with a chain hook that we use for setting the anchor. When we're at anchor the windlass brake wheel is backed off to no pressure--- we use a chain stay to keep the chain from running out under its own weight.

But if you (or a previous owner) left a friction plate windlass with the brake tightened down for a long period of time it's very possible that the plates and the wildcat can stick together quite tightly and may even have to be pried apart.

We have 200' of all-chain rode and have never had a problem with the chain coming off the wildcat during retrieval. But the chain locker of a GB is quite large and very deep, so the top of the pile of chain is a good three feet below the deck, plus our windlass is mounted on a big teak block about a foot or more above the deck. As others have said, it sounds to me as though your chain locker may be too small or too shallow for an all-chain rode.

-- Edited by Marin at 11:54, 2008-06-03
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Old 06-03-2008, 01:06 PM   #9
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RE: Windlass & anchoring

I am of the opinion you are right regarding the size of my chain locker. We carry 240 feet of 3/8" chain and it fills up the chain locker.
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Old 06-04-2008, 03:46 AM   #10
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RE: Windlass & anchoring

I am of the opinion you are right regarding the size of my chain locker.

Its not the size , its the SHAPE that gives the problems , unfortunatly loads harder to cure.

Why not dump the chain till you get in coral infested waters where you actually need it?
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Old 06-04-2008, 03:29 PM   #11
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RE: Windlass & anchoring

Thanks, gentlemen.

I don't doubt that getting the gypsy freed from the friction plates will be quite a festive event It was left with the brake wheel tight, and I have no idea how long since it's been used.

Marin - I wanted to be certian that I understand how you're doing this - am I right in saying that you use a line + snubber to 1 or 2 cleats to handle the actual strain of the boat against the anchor, and the chain stop to make certain that what's left on the boat stays there?

On a related topic, do those of you in the "chain gang" paint links to show how much rode is payed out? Or is there a slicker way (or do you just do it by feel??).
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Old 06-04-2008, 04:55 PM   #12
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RE: Windlass & anchoring

I use brightly colored tie wraps. One yellow at 25 feet, one orange at 50, one blue at 75, one of each at 100. Then 2 yellow at 125, etc. They last a long time and when pulling up anchor one can check and replace as needed. I leave the tail long on mine. It doesn't cause any problems and makes the markers easier to see.

Ken
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Old 06-04-2008, 07:52 PM   #13
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RE: Windlass & anchoring

Chris---

If we're going to be anchored for awhile (overnight or longer), we use a chain "plate" as opposed to a chain hook. This is the stainless plate with a slot for a chain link and two holes for shackles to fasten a pair of snubbers to. Some people like them, some don't. We use 1/2" snubbers so they will have some shock absorbing quality. We have two deck cleats at the bow so each snubber goes to its own cleat. Once it's rigged up we let the plate (and chain) out on the snubbers until it's about 4 feet underwater and then cleat off the snubbers. We then let out a bunch more chain to increase the size of the loop hanging between the plate and the pulpit. The bottom of the loop ends up probably 8 feet under water or more.

If we're going to be anchored for a few hours or so, we use just one of the snubbers and chain hook but rigged the same way as the plate in terms of how far underwater the hook hangs and the size of the loop.

In each case we use a short line with a chain hook to hold the chain back against its own weight. This is the line you can see in the photo of our Tigres windlass that's coming back to the cleat on top of the windlass. The hook is just out of the photo to the right. This line is always in place even when the anchor is up because a Rocna is balanced to self-deploy. If we took the line off the anchor would launch itself since we leave the windlass brake backed off. (We have a second hold-back in the form of a bungee.)

We have a short 5/8" line (10 feet long maybe) made up with a chain hook on one end that we use to set the anchor. So we get the boat moving slowly backwards (wind, current, or a moment in reverse), then lower the anchor to the bottom, let out whatever scope we want, attach the chain hook, power out a bit more chain so the hook doesn't fall off the chain, cleat the line, and set the anchor against the line, not the pulpit or windlass.

Finally, if we're going to be anchored for awhile or if it's windy and the anchor is going to have a decent strain on it we attach a buoyed trip line to the anchor and toss that over as we're deploying the anchor. That way we can haul the anchor out backwards if we need to. We never break the anchor out with the windlass. If it doesn't come out easily we use the boat to break it out using the same line we use to set the anchor so there is no strain on the pulpit or windlass.

A lot of people make up color codes for paint or markers so they know how much chain is out. We did that intially but we could never remember what the code was, plus it didn't take long for the paint to come off or get covered by mud. And all we really care about is that we get the right amount of chain out in the first place. So we bailed on the the paint and code idea and simply put a white plastic wire tie every ten feet. We didn't trim the ties so they stick up and are pretty obvious. So if we want 100 feet of chain out, we simply count off ten wire ties as we're letting the chain out. If we have a need to remember how much chain we have out we write it on a sticky note and stick it on the flying bridge steering cable/wire guide in front of the helm. The wire tie ends will break off over time but we'll just replace them when they do.

So that's what we do. It takes longer to describe it than do it. But there are 653,297 correct ways to set up an anchoring rig and anchoring process, so do what you find works best for you.


-- Edited by Marin at 20:57, 2008-06-04
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Old 06-05-2008, 08:56 AM   #14
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RE: Windlass & anchoring

At the risk of sounding stupid (never done THAT before) I'm curious why many people are so protective of their bow pulpit and anchor windlass? I've seen Marin and others talk about using deck cleats to secure their anchor and never using the windlass to do anything but take the weight of the anchor and chain.

It seems to me that the strongest part of the boat is going to be the bow. It is designed to run into the waves and break the water for it's lifetime. It is a complex "bent" shape which seems to be inherently stronger. (take a piece of paper and push against it, then bend it and push) My bow has a 5" x 5" samson post which goes down to and is anchored to the keel/stem. The bow pulpit (2.25" x 14" teak board) is anchored to the samson post and the top of the bow itself, on top of the caprail, creating the famous triangle which truss builders swear is the strongest shape. Under the pulpit is also a grate anchored to the samson post and the bow structure. Under that is the boat deck which is structurally the weakest piece. (fiberglass skin on both sides with plywood in between and teak decking on top, maybe 1.25" thick at most).

So to recap, I have a strong triangle shape (bow/pulpit board/samson post) reinforced in two additional places, all are fairly stout members, all are bolted or glassed in place. Why wouldn't that be the strongest thing to pull against. Wouldn't deck cleats, even properly backed be a weaker place to pull against? Wouldn't that strain be more likely to stress the deck and cause potential leaks?

And why would the windlass manufacturer put a cleat horn on top of the windlass if it wasn't designed to take a strain? I don't see any other use for it.

I know, a lot of questions but if I'm doing it wrong I need to change. It it's just a personal choice then I won't worry about it.

Ken
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Old 06-05-2008, 11:41 AM   #15
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RE: Windlass & anchoring

Hiya,
** 2bucks, good questions ALL.* Our last boat did have a sampson post which we used extensivley when tying to our dock and the very, very, very*odd time we anchored (I think 5X in 10 years).* The cleats were mounted on top of the gunwales with no hawse pipes.* Our current boat does NOT have a sampson post but it does have substantial deck mounted cleats and hawse pipes AND it does have a cleat horn on top of the Lewmar windlass.* We have not tried anchoring yet but I am eager to learn the "best" way.
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Old 06-05-2008, 02:59 PM   #16
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RE: Windlass & anchoring

Ken---

You're correct in that the bow of a boat is going to be strong. The question is how strong is the pulpit itself, or the pulpit attachment hardware? I have heard and read a number of of "horror" stories over the ten years we've been doing this kind of boating about pulpits snapping off under the high strain from setting an anchor, or more commonly, using the windlass and pulpit to break a deeply set or stuck anchor free. Pulpit strength is going to vary with the design of the boat, the make of the boat, the age of the boat, the quality of the construction, and the quality of the attachment hardware.

Our boat is 35 years old. The spine of the pulpit is a big bronze casting wth teak platforms bolted to each side of it. The bronze pulpit spine is secured to the bow with big bronze bolts or screws and there is an angle brace between the back of the pulpit and the heavy fiberglass stem. But I have no idea how strong it all is, I have no idea what shape the bolts or screws are in, and I have no idea what kind of strains and stresses the pulpit and hardware has been subjected to in the past. Given the cost of repairing a broken or snapped-off pulpit we err on the side of caution and don't put any undue strain on it.

I know and can see how the deck cleats are bolted and backed up, so I know how much of a load they can carry, and it's a lot.

As to putting a load on the windlass, whatever load is put on the windlass is put on the gears, the friction brake parts, and the windlass mounting hardware. We broke some gear teeth on our big, no-name windlass the other year. When they broke (and jammed the windlass) the anchor was on its way up from the bottom so there was minimal strain on the windlass gears. But who knows what sort of strain the teeth that broke might have been subjected to by previous owners.

It's my understanding that the cleat on the top of many windlasses is there for the purpose we use it for--- as an attach point for a chain hold-back line. If one has complete faith in the strength of the relatively small bolts that secure the windlass to the deck, the backing plates, and the strength of the windlass casting itself, I guess the cleat could be used to set the anchor although you'd also be putting the strain on the pulpit.

So I don't believe there is a definitiive "do it this way" answer to your questions. Some boats are probably designed and built so you could suspend the whole damn boat from the pulpit and this, as you say, makes the*strongest point to carry the strain of setting, holding, and*retrieving the*anchor. *Others are built with the minimum strength required to carry the anchor and resist a mild amount of strain.

I will say that every article and book I've read on the subject of mooring and anchoring cautions against putting heavy loads on the pulpit and the windlass. The anchoring procedure I described earlier was taken from the best book I've found on the subject plus the advice and experience of local boaters we've met who do a lot of anchoring and use techniques that have proved very successful in this area. Someone boating in the Carribean will probably use entirely different equipment and techniques.


-- Edited by Marin at 16:12, 2008-06-05
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Old 06-05-2008, 11:53 PM   #17
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RE: Windlass & anchoring

Yes, work boats, fishing boats, tugs, etc. are a whole different deal. My comments are directed only at boats built for the recreational market.
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Old 06-06-2008, 03:51 AM   #18
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RE: Windlass & anchoring

I love the big sampson post that TD VINNETT put on the bow of my NORTHSHORE 44.
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Old 06-06-2008, 10:49 AM   #19
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RE: Windlass & anchoring

I have personally seen two bow pulpits that cracked from not using a snubber with all chain rode. Both vessels were being used as R/C boats and were subjected to the wakes of the passing contestants. The one boat sustained stress cracks while the other boat had the pulpit actually snap.
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Old 06-07-2008, 05:29 PM   #20
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RE: Windlass & anchoring

Thanks for all the information. Some interesting opinions on what to trust and not to trust. I'd bet that before the pulpit cracked or before the pulpit broke there would be some indication of a problem. Since my pulpit is totally exposed on all sides except where it attaches I would think I'd see some varnish cracking or other sign it was going bad. The same is true of the samson post, it can be visually inspected from top to bottom. I can't examine my deck core quite so easily. So if it's leaky and going soft like so many do, I might not know it until it pulled thru.

I checked on the bolts holding my winch on today and they are 3/8". The cleats are smaller at 5/16". Also the bolts (winch) have actual bolt heads instead of tapered screw heads (cleats). I'm thinking there is more inherent strength there also. So for strength, the winch has stronger attachment than the cleats. I agree that leaving the strain on the chain gipsy unnecessarily loads the gears and shafts for large loads. At least on my boat, it would appear that continuing to use the post is the best method.

Ancora talks of boats without snubbers which of course I use, so that isn't an issue for me.

Thanks again,
Ken
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