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There are a number of important criteria to be considered in selecting the
correct anchor winch.
These include the vessel size, displacement, windage, anchor size and
selection. Practicalities such as locker space and depth of fall for the rode
also play a part in deciding which
windlass is ideal for you.
Maxwell's range of windlasses and capstans is extensive, with models to suit
boats from 6 metres (20 feet) to 60 metres (200 feet) and more. This section
aims to simplify the selection process by taking you step by step through all
the criteria that needs to be considered when choosing a windlass or capstan.
WHAT SIZE WINDLASS OR CAPSTAN FOR MY BOAT?
Consider the overall length and displacement (either light or heavy) of your
VERTICAL OR HORIZONTAL CONFIGURATION?
The two basic types of windlasses are differentiated by the drive shaft
orientation. Deck thickness and underdeck space are the two main considerations
when deciding which of the two types to fit.
Vertical windlasses make up the majority of anchor winch sales. They are
characterised by situating the capstan and/or
above deck and the motor and gearbox below deck. Vertical windlasses provide a
1800 wrap of the anchor rode around the chainwheel giving optimal chain control,
minimising slippage and jumping.
Horizontal windlasses are mounted completely above deck with gypsy and
capstan located to either side. They provide a 900 wrap of the rode around the
HOW MUCH SPACE DO I NEED IN MY CHAIN LOCKER?
Deck thickness and locker space play an important role in deciding whether to
install a vertical or horizontal windlass. Estimating or measuring
the depth of fall of the rode into the anchor locker may dictate which type of
windlass is most suitable for your vessel. Calculating the depth of fall differs
for horizontal chain only windlasses and for vertical rope or rope/chain
Rope and/or chain, particularly chain selection, is extremely important.
Deciding on the right anchor winch for your boat depends on the size, not only
of the boat, but also the ground tackle. Maxwell anchor winches and capstans are
designed to take chain only, rope only or a combination of both. Automatic
rope/chain systems are now commonly used on boats up to 20 metres (65 feet).
Consequently, Maxwell's Freedom and Liberty Series automatic rope/chain systems
have become increasingly popular, as they offer the added benefit of less weight
in the bow with the ability to carry an increased amount of rode. Chain only
systems remain popular on heavier displacement sail and motor yachts.
There are two main types of anchor chain. Short link chain is most commonly
used on small and medium sized boats while stud link chain is generally used on
much larger vessels such as Superyachts. The latter is characterised by a stud
(bar) joining the two sides of the link preventing them from deforming when
overloaded. High test or calibrated short link chain should always be used. Long
or regular link chain.
There are a wide variety of both metric (mm) and imperial (inches) chain
sizes available and these will have bearing on your final windlass decision. It
is important that the right size and right grade of chain is used to ensure a
correct fit of the links to the
If the chain is not matched to the chainwheel problems may occur, such as the
chain jumping off the gypsy or the chain jamming as it will not feed smoothly
through the chainpipe.
As chain to chainwheel compatibility is so important, Maxwell supplies
chainwheels to fit just about every known chain available on today's
DC, AC OR HYDRAULIC?
The wattage of a DC electric motor is not the important factor. Rather it is the
efficiency of the whole winch, including the gearbox and motor, which counts.
With the increasing popularity of powerful and compact on-board generators, AC
powered winches are becoming a practical consideration for bigger boats.
Hydraulic systems provide another power source well worth considering as they
have the advantage of constant speed under all load conditions and can be run
almost constantly while coupled with safe guards such as pressure relief valves.
Modern hydraulic systems offer an integrated, low maintenance and efficient,
centrally managed, power pack.
WHAT PULL CAPABILITY WILL I NEED?
The only meaningful way to rate anchor winch performance is by looking at what
it will lift and at what speed. The two things to consider are (a) the
maximum pull capability and (b) the
working load of the winch. Maximum pull (sometimes referred to as stall
load) is the maximum short term or instantaneous pull of the winch. Working load
is generally rated at about one third of the maximum pull and is usually
considered to be the load that the winch is pulling once the anchor is off the
bottom. To determine your required maximum pull capability, complete the
||Calculate ground tackle weight (anchor +
chain + rope = ground tackle)
||Calculate the maximum pull (total ground
tackle x 3 = Maximum pull)
||Safety guidelines suggest that the pulling
capacity of the windlass should not be less than 3 times the total weight of
the ground tackle.
||In this instance a Freedom 800 or VW 800
or HWC 650 would be suitable. The maximum pull of 246kg/540lbs is well
within the capability of all these anchor winches.
SAFETY AND SECURITY TIPS
Circuit breaker/isolators are used in the installation of any DC electric
windlass to provide protection to motor and cables should the windlass be
overloaded. Accessories such as
chain stoppers or chain snubbers are highly recommended for safe
anchoring, the avoidance of unintentional self-launching of the anchor and for
the prevention of damage to your anchor winch.
You should never anchor off your winch or use your winch to draw your boat
to the anchor spot. The anchor winch is designed to pull up a dead weight and
should not be subjected to the strain of your boat riding at anchor.
If you think the winch you are considering may be too small, then go to the
next size up. Better to have excess lifting capacity than not enough!
Maxwell equipment is born of innovation and backed by years
of experience. All our anchor windlasses, ancillary deck gear, stern-handling
products and accessories provide a level of quality, functionality, durability
and style that is unparalleled in the industry.
To make the proper selection in anchor-handling equipment,
it is important to give careful consideration to the style and size of boat, the
anticipated anchoring conditions, and the weight and type of ground tackle. For
assistance in determining what anchoring solution is right for you, refer to the
Which Winch section above, or contact your nearest Maxwell representative
Vertical vs Horizontal Winches
Vertical systems have several advantages: They take up less
space on deck and are easier to maintain. They are less expensive than
equivalent horizontal models. Chain alignment for smooth chain retrieval, while
important, is not as critical as horizontal windlass alignment. With vertical
systems more chain is in contact with the chainwheel thus avoiding the
possibility of chain jump. Line-pull on the warping drum can be in any
direction, as opposed to fore and aft only on horizontal models.
Horizontal models have the advantage of being better suited
to applications where there is limited below deck space / accessibility, extreme
deck thickness (over 200mm - 8"), or where two anchors must be handled from one
This section provides some universal guidelines on winch safety and correct
anchoring procedures. Winch safety starts with winch selection. A correctly
specified and installed Maxwell Anchor Winch will provide years of reliable,
trouble-free anchoring. If in doubt regarding windlass selection, refer to the
product information section of this web-site or the Find Us section for your
nearest Maxwell retailer, service agent or representative.
Tips and guidelines:
- Be sure the windlass has been correctly specified and installed
- The windlass should be used in conjunction with a chainstopper of the
- Run the boat engine while raising or lowering the anchor. Not only is this
a safety precaution, it also helps minimise the drain on the batteries
- Always motor up to the anchor while retrieving the rode. Do not use the
windlass to pull the boat to the anchor
- If the anchor is fouled, do not use the windlass to break it out. With the
chainstopper taking the load, use the boat's engine to break the anchor loose
- Do not use the windlass as a bollard! In all but the lightest conditions,
engage the chainstopper or bollard after completing the anchoring manoeuvre.
This will avoid damage to the gearbox and possible bending of the stainless
- In heavy weather conditions, always use a heavy anchor snub or stop from
the chain directly to a bollard or firmly fixed deck cleat
- NEVER use the windlass or chainstopper as a mooring point
- Always turn the isolator switch "OFF" before leaving the boat
- When using the windlass do not switch immediately from one direction to
the other without waiting for the windlass to stop as this could damage the
- Do not depend on the windlass to hold the anchor in its bow roller. A
nylon line or an alternative anchor tension system should be used to secure
the anchor to its stowed position when underway and will need to be removed
before operation of the windlass. Alternatively, a pin through the bow roller
and the shank can be used for securing
- Correct fit of chain to chain wheel is essential for the windlass to
Books on seamanship all have a section on how to properly and safely anchor
your boat. The summary below is intended only as a basic guide to acceptable
anchoring technique. Maxwell recommends that correct anchoring technique be
researched and understood thoroughly before going to sea
Tips and Guidelines:
- Before deciding where you want to anchor, slowly cruise around the
anchoring site and check the boats already at anchor, to ensure you have
enough room to swing
- Allow adequate room around the spot where you wish to anchor. Remember
that power vessels swing differently than yachts. Boats on rope rodes swing
around more than those on chain
- Slow down and keep the bow into the wind, or current, whichever is
stronger and as the boat comes to a complete stop, start to lower the anchor
- After lowering the anchor, either drift back or slowly reverse while
paying out the anchor rode, in order to ensure the anchor is set (holding
- The amount of anchor rode you pay out should always be at least three
times the depth of water in which you are anchoring
- In case the engine fails to restart, do not switch off the engine until
you are sure the anchor is set (holding firm). Use buoys as reference points
if they are available or, if close to shore, use prominent landmarks to check
you are holding your position
- Once anchored, secure your anchor rode with the chain stopper or secure to
a deck cleat or bollard with a hitch that is easy to cast off. Do not anchor
off your winch
- Have a small buoy handy, which you can tie to the end of your anchor rode
in case you have to slip your anchor. You will then be able to recover your
anchor & rode later
- Always anchor your boat via the bow
- Check your position frequently when at anchor to monitor drag
Well maintained and cared for, a correctly specified and installed Maxwell
Anchor Winch will provide years of reliable, trouble-free anchoring. Below is a
brief summary of recommended procedures to ensure you get the best out of your
Maxwell Winch year in and year out.
Tips and guidelines:
- Accumulation of dirt and debris is the biggest problem for any equipment.
Routinely wash down the above deck portion of the winch and chain with clean
salt or fresh water.
- Remove any corrosion build up and coat with a suitable protective product.
This applies especially to the gearbox and motor
- Ensure that the clutches are in good working order by releasing and
re-setting them during inspection and wash down. Periodic greasing of the
clutch cones with a waterproof marine grease is essential.
· PRIOR TO SEASON:
- Above deck components should be removed and greased following the
appropriate maintenance and installation instructions in the owner's manual.
Check the level of oil in the gearbox and top up as per instructions if
- Underdeck components should be sprayed, preferably with CRC-3097 Long Life
or alternatively, CRC 6-66, CRC "Soft Seal" or WD 40
- Particular attention should be paid to the motor terminals, footswitch
terminals, terminals on the reversing solenoids, plus the battery and isolator
terminals to ensure all are in good working order
· Repeat procedures under PRIOR TO SEASON
· END OF SEASON
· Before storage, carry out procedures under PRIOR TO SEASON
- ABOVE DECK COMPONENTS: Clean the windlass with a cloth damp with kerosene
(paraffin). Spray, preferably with CRC 3097 Long Life or, alternatively, CRC
6-66 or WD 40. Polish off with a clean non-fluffy cloth
- GEARBOX: The Maxwell gearbox is a totally self-contained sealed unit.
Providing the windlass is not abused this unit should give years of trouble
free service. Every three years the gearbox should be removed, oil drained,
cleaned and replaced with SAE 90
- RECOMMENDED LUBRICANTS: Gearbox Oil: SAE 90, (e.g. Shell Omala 320,
Castrol Alpha SP 320). Mainshaft and bearing: Marine grease, lithium based or
lithium complex based, (e.g. Duckhams Keenol, Castrol LMX). Do not use
soap-based grease. Above deck components: CRC 3097 spray
- Most anchor winches on vessels up to about 18 metres use 12V or 24V DC
electric motors. It is important if the motor is not kept well protected and
serviced. Neglect of the winch's electric motor is one of the most common
causes of windlass failure