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Old 02-22-2015, 04:09 AM   #1
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Leaving Windlass Breaker On At Anchor

Question is the downside of leaving the breaker for the windlass on at all times at anchor. This would be done so that if Bay Pelican dragged any rescuers coming aboard could drop more chain or even the second anchor.

The breaker for the windlass is inside the pilot house and would not be accessible to someone who came aboard without them breaking into the boat.

I have personally boarded several dragging boats in the last few years and have let out more rode in a couple of instances. For someone to do that on Bay Pelican currently they would have to hand lift chain out of the locker.

Concerned about the electrical implications not the security.
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Old 02-22-2015, 05:32 AM   #2
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As long as you're fairly confident about the condition of the wiring, both the big stuff from the breaker to the windlass and the smaller wires from the switches to the solenoid, I don't really see any electrical issue if you want to leave the breaker on while you are away. There should be no current draw as long as the solenoid is not activated and it seems very unlikely the system would suddenly develop a mind of its own while you are away. But it's still less than ideal and I get your concern.

If you would want and trust someone to come aboard and operate your windlass if you were dragging, wouldn't it also make sense to enable them to start the engines and maneuver the boat if needed. Presumably it would be an experienced boater that would come aboard in an emergency. More rode may not be the full answer, depending on depth and other boats around. So, why not hide a key somewhere and have your emergency cell phone number clearly displayed. You could then talk a boat rescuer through whatever it would take to, hopefully, get your boat safely anchored again.
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Old 02-22-2015, 08:47 AM   #3
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This is one of the features I really like about my Ideal windlass. The wildcats have friction locks to the capstans. Need to let out more chain quickly, just loosen the hand wheel and the wildcat turns free of the windlass.

I never turn my breaker off on the windlass. In addition to the breaker, there is a fuse where the power lead comes off the power buss. Also all control wires are fused. Might turn the breaker off if there were children coming on the boat.

Ted
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Old 02-22-2015, 08:56 AM   #4
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I have a safety covered switch next to the windless control wired to the common (middle) wire running to the relays. This allows the unprotected windless switch to be deactivated when not in use.

I leave the breaker on but turn the safety off when not using the windless.

My windless breaker like yours is not in an easy to see location, but forward in a closet near the windless.
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Old 02-22-2015, 09:33 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by O C Diver View Post
This is one of the features I really like about my Ideal windlass. The wildcats have friction locks to the capstans. Need to let out more chain quickly, just loosen the hand wheel and the wildcat turns free of the windlass.

I never turn my breaker off on the windlass. In addition to the breaker, there is a fuse where the power lead comes off the power buss. Also all control wires are fused. Might turn the breaker off if there were children coming on the boat.

Ted
Just a small thread creep. Ted where do you store the rod? I just added the gypsy to my capston, threw the rod in the ground tackle box as I didn't think much about it. Till now.

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Old 02-22-2015, 10:31 AM   #6
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Just a small thread creep. Ted where do you store the rod? I just added the gypsy to my capston, threw the rod in the ground tackle box as I didn't think much about it. Till now.

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Not sure which rod you're referring to. My windlass has side hand wheels to disengage the wildcats, but I don't recall any provision to wind up the chain with the wildcat without using the winch motor. Mine is set up this way as I have 2 chain roads and need to be able to disengage the wildcat on whichever road I'm not using to anchor. Wish I had a better pic.

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Old 02-22-2015, 10:59 AM   #7
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I always turn my breaker off. The windlass motor and associated wiring is in a pretty unforgiving place, the very damp anchor locker. No where else like it on our boat as far as being wet and nasty. I view fire (paranoid I know) as more a concern than dragging anchor, of course we have a Bruce.

BTW, is leaving an anchored vessel for more than a few hours wise, especially in the PNW where currents and large tides are the norm?
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Old 02-22-2015, 11:04 AM   #8
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Not sure which rod you're referring to. My windlass has side hand wheels to disengage the wildcats, but I don't recall any provision to wind up the chain with the wildcat without using the winch motor. Mine is set up this way as I have 2 chain roads and need to be able to disengage the wildcat on whichever road I'm not using to anchor. Wish I had a better pic.

Ted
Ahh...you have a different style. Mines vertical and single.

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Old 02-22-2015, 11:04 AM   #9
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BTW, is leaving an anchored vessel for more than a few hours wise, especially in the PNW where currents and large tides are the norm?
Those of us who live at anchor for months at a time frequently leave the boat for much of the day or night.
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Old 02-22-2015, 11:14 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Bay Pelican View Post
Those of us who live at anchor for months at a time frequently leave the boat for much of the day or night.

I get it, but does your very well set up extended cruising vessel operating in low tidal surge areas, with proven procedures, apply to those of us with less experience that do not leave the vessel at anchor for days on end.
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Old 02-22-2015, 02:39 PM   #11
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I never used to turn mine off but one nice sunny morning I went to the bow to enjoy the sunrise. As I stood there solving the worlds problems, a coffee in one hand and my other hand resting on the capstan, I shifted position and accidentally stepped on the deck mounted foot switch for "raising" the anchor. In the blink of an eye the next moment I was standing there dumbfounded, still with coffee in one hand and most of my other hand embedded deep into the winch/chain mechanism. I think I stood there in disbelief for a few seconds before my brain finally caught up to the events or it may have been the copious amounts of blood spurting out from behind the chain guide that signaled me to action

Having somewhat regained my faculties, I weighed my options and decided to step on the other switch to see if reversing the capstan would allow me to extricate what remained of my hand. I steeled myself, took a sip of coffee (now wishing it was a stiff shot of rum) and stepped on the 'down" switch. Aside from the sickening crunching noise of bones in metal, much to my delight and amazement my hand came right back out as quickly as it went in.

Pleased to be free, I headed toward the aft deck to inspect the damage and was surprised to note that a small stream of blood had already made it's way down the deck and stairs and was dripping out the scupper by the salon door. I recall thinking it would be interesting to see if it attracted any sharks then "more importantly" wondered how the hell I was ever going to get blood stains out of the no- skid.

All in all I got off lucky, several broken fingers and some really nasty gashes. I'll spare everyone my rant on travel insurance and major health care expenses in a foreign country.

The rather long winded "moral" of this story is "NEVER" leave the power on to your capstan or winch when not in use.
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Old 02-22-2015, 03:13 PM   #12
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FWIW, we leave our master windlass breaker and the foot-switch switch on whenever we anchor the boat, even if we leave it for awhile. Our windless is a Lofrans Tigres and it has power deploy and retrieve. I installed the two foot switches beside the big teak block the windlass is mounted on. These switches have substantial flip-up covers and we keep them closed unles we're actually going to be operating the windlass.

If we have guests we often turn off the foot-switch switch which is mounted in the forward cabin next to the door to the chain locker, to ensure nobody accidentally manages to open a switch cover with their shoe and then step on the switch.

We have an item on our leave the boat to go home checklist to turn off the windlass and foot-switch switches.
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Old 02-22-2015, 03:17 PM   #13
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Of all the things to worry about catching fire or catching me....my windlass is pretty far down on the list.

As with leaving the boat and in a high current, tidal swing area or an area where a pop up thunderstorm could form, no I try and be back aboard during a change or severe event....but after a couple of tide swings or good blows...leaving the boat shouldn't be an issue.

Many firmly believe that your everyday gear should be robust enough in case you ever have to leave your anchored boat for an emergency.
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Old 02-22-2015, 07:34 PM   #14
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Quote:
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I get it, but does your very well set up extended cruising vessel operating in low tidal surge areas, with proven procedures, apply to those of us with less experience that do not leave the vessel at anchor for days on end.
How each boat is used is different. You raise an important point. Bay Pelican lives in a world where many cruisers know each other and we clearly look out for each other. Things would clearly be different for other situations.
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Old 02-22-2015, 08:12 PM   #15
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I leave mine on most of the time whether we're anchored or not and have never had any problem. I have a 12v Caframo fan in the berth that I use when needed, I had planned to put a master switch in the circuit to isolate the windlass. I have the switch just have not made up the cables needed.
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Old 02-22-2015, 08:39 PM   #16
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I turn mine on while anchoring as well as anchored.





(I normally keep start/house battery parallel off.)
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Old 02-22-2015, 08:43 PM   #17
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Ours is always on.

Our foot buttons have guards that's flip off when need be so they can't be accidentally pushed.
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Old 02-22-2015, 08:48 PM   #18
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My vote says leave the breaker on. If the boats maintained, whats' the danger on leaving a breaker on when you're using the boat? Unless you hit a switch, it's an open circuit.
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Old 02-22-2015, 08:50 PM   #19
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When not in use, turn off the juice.
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Old 02-22-2015, 08:53 PM   #20
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If your worried about your windlass wiring, what's the rest of boats wiring condition? I mean seriously I don't see the big whoop of leaving it on.
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