2009 May – Windlass overhauled

MAY 2008 – Windlass overhauled

I wanted to spend a weekend anchored at White’s Island in Long Beach harbor – just for the fun of it.  This would be the first time I had anchored anywhere and I was keen to try it.

A sailing friend and I put together a list of things to check before venturing out, and number 1 on the list was to check the anchoring equipment.

While still tied up at the dock we released and dropped the anchor off the bow.  It disappeared into the mud below.

The Chain

We found that there were no markings on the chain to indicate how many feet of chain had been dropped, which didnt help.  So I bought little colored anchor markers that fit between the links.  DO NOT BOTHER with these.  They are so innocuous that the anchor line runs out and the little markers pass by virtually unnoticed.  You have to be paying full attention to the chain – instead of the anchoring spot – to see the little markers in the links.  They are useless.  And they fall out of the links – contrary to the claim on the website that says they never do!

Eventually I abandoned the unequal battle and bought 3 cans of paint – red, white, and blue – and sprayed the chain every 25ft with a different color to indicate the length of chain payed out.   The broad paint stripes on the chain made it so much easier to see how much chain is over the side.

Spray painting the chain was easy – with no mess!  We picked a calm day with almost no wind and laid out the full length of the chain on the dock.  Then we marked every 25ft and pooled the chain for about 3 feet either side of the “25ft-mark” and stuffed the pool of chain into a sturdy garbage bag.  Then we sprayed the chain inside the plastic bag – so there was no mess on the dock, and no overspray onto the boat.  We did that every 25ft – I didnt care if it was super accurate, I just needed the visual confirmation of how many feet (approximately) were out, and how much chain I still had to drop.

We left the paint to dry which it did in an hour or two, then we rotated the chain inside the plastic bag to reveal the undersides that we hadnt/couldnt reach.  The painted chain does not stick to the plastic so it is a pretty easy exercise.  Then we resprayed the unpainted undersides of the chain and left to dry.  We repeated this a few time, just to get good coverage and by the end of the day we had brightly painted chain!  And we simply threw the plastic bags away – so no mess, no fuss.

The windlass

The windlass hauled up the anchor once and the second time it gave up the ghost.   We had to pull up the anchor by hand and shove ithe chain down into the hold – too manual, heavy work, not fun!

It was time to do some maintainance.  We manhandled the windlass off its base and my friend opened it up.  The inner workings were a mess – the “bicycle chain” that looped around the gears was broken, some pieces holding the inner links had snapped, and it was covered in rust.  It had obviously not been oiled in many years.

My friend – who knows stuff – broke it down into its component parts and bought new bits and pieces to replace the broken parts.  Then he put it all together again, greased the relevant parts, filled it with oil, and we manhandled it back onto its base, where we sealed it back down again.

Now it works effortlessly.  Just perfectly.  There is nothing like a beautifully maintained windlass to make life easier ….. (well, except maybe an electric windlass).

TOTAL COST = $20   …..excluding all the labor obviously!

Picture 3

Picture 1

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