Windless Installation

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Oct 8, 2007
Vessel Name
Moon Dance
Vessel Make
1974 34' Marine Trader Sedan
It's time to install my spiffy new (to me) SL555 manual windless.* On my MT 34 I just have room on the bow pulpit in front of the samson post to do this.* However, I'm not going to be able to line up squarely both the chain gipsy and the rode drum with the bow roller.

So, is the alignment all that critical? Can I just split the difference?* Or should I angle the windlass to line up squarely for the rode drum.* I have only about 10 feet of chain.* Of course, that also begins the heaviest part of the tackle and the hardest part to bring aboard.* So should I be more concerned about getting the gipsy lined up properly?

I'm not at all concerned about dropping rode or chain straight down to the chain locker.* It can gather on the deck.

I'm just trying to think this through before I start drilling holes.

If one uses all-chain rode and a windlass with a chain wildcat, it's typical to line up the wildcat with the pulpit rollers. There are wildcats that can pull rope as well but you'd have to determine if one of these is available for the type of windlass you have.* The installation instructions that came with our Lofrans Tigress were very specific about not only the alighment of the windlass with the rode but the angle at which the rode enters the wildcat.*

If the chain enters the wildcat at an off-axis angle you run the risk of binding, perhaps even enough friction under heavy load to*cause the rotating wildcat*to try to lift the links out of the* "teeth", and*imposing excess wear on the rim of the wildcat and the chain links theselves.* They won't break but you could wear down some of the galvanizing faster than you'd like.

We use an all-chain rode so we mounted our Lofrans with the wildcat lined up with the centerline of the boat (and pulpit rollers).* We often use a rope trip line with our anchor, so if we have to pull that in with the windlass we simply feed it through the heavy bronze hawse in the port bow bulwark and take a few turns around the line gypsy.* The port bow hawse is not lined up with the line gypsy but it's close enough.

As long as line enters a line gypsy without being interfered with by the rest of the windlass housing the angle is not so important unless it becomes severe enough to let the line walk off the drum or pop out of the bow roller.* Chain is not*nearly so tolerant.

On our boat, the windlass is back far enough from the forward pulpit roller that we could pull line*over the roller with the line gypsy with no probems even though the line gypsy is set off a foot or so*to port of the centerline.* We don't pull our trip line this way because the roller is already full of the chain.* So in your situation, unless there was a specific reason not to, I would be inclined to mount the windlass with the chain wildcat lined up with the bow roller and let the line gypsy be offset.

-- Edited by Marin on Tuesday 13th of April 2010 07:15:22 PM
Line the gypsy up with the roller. Otherwise, you wear the gypsy out pretty quickly, if you don't start jumping links beforehand.
My windlass chain wildcat is lined up with the bow roller so the chain comes in straight - no side pull. I have 100 ft of 3/8" chain.

The rest of the rode is 1/2" nylon, 250' . For that I mounted a second , smaller roller somewhat above and splitting the offset between the bow roller and the windlass drum. It works well.

The only problem is transferring the chain as it approaches the rope drum to get it onto the wildcat. Most of the time I am able to simply hold on and fiddle it over. I also now have a grab hook on a 3/8 line to get some chain slack and hold the whole mess while I move the chain over. Not the best but it works well.
With a rope rode the chain is only a bit of weight and protection.

I would line the chain gypsy with the chain stopper which is necessary if an all chain rode is ever installed.

Ideal or Galley Maid have nice units.They will be holding the boat to the chain NOT the SL 555.

All chain is necessary in coral infested waters.

For my taste its far too much work to scrub in recovery every day.

The rope chain side will be no problem with the line simply spliced into whatever chain you use.

Chain is weak so the all chain side might be 3/8 and with a light snuber will survive overnights or an occasional thunder storm.

The rope side will usually be set for 2 rodes a light weight 7/16 or 1/2 nylon and 3/8 chain for most overnights AND a heavier 5/8 line with 7/16 HT chain, and your storm anchor.

Pulling the storm anchor is no problem as the last 20 ft with the 7/16 chain will easily take a turn on the rope drum that is secure enough to lift just the storm anchor and stronger chain.
I'm going to line up the chain, it seems to be much less forgiving than rope to misalignment issues.

Thanks to everyone for the input!
I installed another roller for the rope that lines up straight.* In case we have to deploy two anchors as the back up is chain and rope.* or** <cite>www.[b]ideal[/b]</cite>

Will give a picture of a "pawl chain stopper".

The Ideal site gives dimensions.

This is what will hold the boat to the chain , not the SL, its only to bring the goodies back aboard.

The chain stopper will need thru bolts , a backing plate etc.

Pretend you will be hanging the boat from it (you will be) and let oversize be your guide.

A thin nylon from a low mounted bow eye will keep the unit unstressed 99% of the time, but ,,,,.

-- Edited by FF on Thursday 15th of April 2010 05:27:33 AM
HA! Here's a surprise - I worry too much.* I finally got the windlass bolted on, purchased and installed 35' of the correct size chain, did not saw a hole through the pulpit for the rode to drop, paid an outrageous sum for a SS swivel shackle that will come right up and over the bow roller, swapped out the primary anchor for my spare that will accept the swivel, eye-spliced the chain to the 100' or so of rope and crossed my fingers. Nothing is lined up perfectly, not even close.* Especially the deck pipe, which is a good 12" off to the side.

Works like a champ! Of course the old, stiff rope won't self-feed through the deck pipe, but the chain just pours through.* Which is fine, because I wanted the rode to pile up on the deck so I could hose it down and allow to dry before I stow it in the locker.

Sometimes things just work out!*

I'm on to the wheel pilot now.* Only 1 trip to Home Depot and the drive wheel is bolted to the steering wheel already.* Now I have to start cutting fiberglass to fit the drive motor.* I'm sure to stress over the exact, spot on, to a gnat's ass positioning of that part.* Which in the end will probably turn out to be wrong and not really all that critical anyhow.
Maybe I should have gone to Defender.* I had to use the larger one to fit over the shank of my anchor and that sucker was about $90 at WM.* A lot for a shackle, but, in the overall boat world, I guess not really all that much.* And it does look and work very well.
The swivel/shackles that have been described here have a bad reputation in this part of the world. The problem is that they can only pivot one way, back and forth, on the anchor shank. If they pull comes sideways the swivel pin itself has relatively little strength and it is not uncommon for them to shear, leaving your boat unattached to the anchor.

The proper way to attach a swivel if you want to use one (we don't) is to put a regular shackle on the anchor shank and then attach the swivel to it. That way the swivel*can pivot in any direction to keep the pull of the rode on the anchor in line with the swivel pin. The proper way to attach a swivel to an anchor is illustrated in Earl Hinz's excellent book "The Complete Book of Anchoring and Mooring." He give a graphic description (with photos) of the consequences of attaching a swivel incorrectly.

We used to use a swivel on our anchor rode (attached correctly thanks to Mr. Hinz's book)*but after talking to a number of very experienced boaters who anchor out a lot as well as looking at the setups on the*boats around us in our marina that belong to people that we know do a lot of long cruises and lots of anchoring out, we found that none of them use swivels. The reason being that they are the weakest link in the anchoring system, even when installed correctly and not backwards as many people tend to do.* And even installed correctly, I've read too many accounts of swivel pins or other swivel*components failing under heavy load to want one in our anchoring setup.* As a result we removed our swivel a number of years ago and have never used one since.

The justification for a swivel is always quoted as keeping the chain from getting wound up or kinked as the boat rotates around the set anchor. In this part of the world with the constantly changing currents and the varying wind patterns in the islands a boat never stops moving around it's anchor or mooring buoy.* I know on many*occasions we have rotated around our anchor many, many times. *But we have never had any problems with our all-chain rode twisting or kinking without a swivel installed, and neither has anyone else we've talked to about this. So we simply have a heavy shackle attached to our anchor with the chain attached to the shackle. We believe the one sure way to guarantee you'll never have a swivel failure is to not have a swivel in the setup at all.

-- Edited by Marin on Monday 10th of May 2010 03:36:07 PM
I believe that Marin's statement has a lot of merrit to it but if you must have a swivel, try these guys. I bought mine there and its tensile strength is about the same as WM's but* the cost* is 70% less.* Anchor Accessories

I wanted the swivel only because it pulled over the bow roller so smoothly.* The regular shackles kept jamming.* Alternatives were I could possibly have opened up the area around the roller or I could have bolted on one of those pre-fab SS anchor roller set-ups, but the shackle seemed the simplest route.

Your observations on their seaworthiness are duly noted though. I will be sure my spare anchor is actually attached to the rode sitting next to it in the lazarette and really is ready for deployment.
All chain,swivels and shackles are not created equal. The WL for 3/8 G4*chain*= 5400 lb*vs proof coil 30 at 2650. WL are generally 1/4 the BL for chain.Cheap forged shackles at say 3/8 have a working load of 2000 lb vs an alloy 3/8 shackle at 4000 lb. Cheap swivels vs expensive usually (not always) tell the same tale too. A good quality Suncor swivel 3/8-1/2" with 3750 lb WL will set you back about $100. Yes you can buy swivels for $25, but why? A good swivel is nice to have, a bad shackle is not nice to have. there are many types*of ground tackle options to consider. A good supplier's website to check out chain and shackles*is 1st Chain Supply.
If we were to consider using a swivel with our anchor, the only two that I'm aware of that we would even consider are these. The first one is a Suncor and the second one is a WASI. The WASI supposedly has more strength than the chain it will be attached to, and is also supposedly the only anchor swivel "approved" by Lloyds of London.* Several of the GB owners on the GB forum have WASI swivels in their setups.

Both of these swivels are several to many hundreds of dollars depending on size. The thing I like about the Suncor is the swivel pin itself is always lined up with the direction of pull. I can only assume that it takes more strength than the chain to deform the WASI enough to pull the ball out of the socket.

But despite the good construction of these swivels we still would not use one as for our application we can think of no advantage to having it. The shackle on our anchor comes over the bow roller just fine, so we don't have the issue BaltimoreLurker describes.


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