Winch Selection Guide
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 rode 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 Marine's range of windlasses and capstans is extensive, with models to suit boats up to 100 metres (over 300 feet). 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.
Maxwell Marine's range of windlasses and capstans is extensive, with models to suit boats
up to 100 metres (over 300 feet). 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 boat and use the
chart provided to identify the most suitable windlass or capstan for your vessel.
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 gypsy (topworks) above the deck and the motor and
gearbox below. Vertical windlasses provide a 180° 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 90° wrap of the anchor rode around the chainwheel.
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 chain or rope/chain windlasses (see
Rope and, 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 HRC6, HRC8, HRC10, RC6, RC8, RC10 and
the NEW RC12 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 should not be used with anchor windlasses.
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 gypsy. 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 chain pipe. As chain to chainwheel compatibility is so important, Maxwell Marine supplies chainwheels to
fit just about every known chain available on today’s international market.
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 calculation below.
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 must be used 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 pull your boat to the anchor
spot. The anchor winch is designed to lift 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 Marine and their agents or distributors offer free and helpful advice should you have any questions. Alternatively, check out Maxwell’s website