Nights Windlass

Staying up nights to sleep nights – Windlass (part 2)

I do my best work at night. Nights, or perhaps more correctly the early hours of the morning can be a very productive time, and dawn with its quiet bird chorus, soothing. And soothing is good. This windlass design is proving to be a real challenge.

Up nights – Fall Storms

That last fall nor’easter did more damage than I first realized. I also have a Beneteau 235 called the Vision Quest (a wonderful little boat that I no longer have the time to do justice to). She rode out Sandy on mooring without damage. This last nor’easter cracked her bow casting and ripped away the pin that keeps the center pennant in place. I missed the crack when we hauled her in the fall, but it was obvious on launching. The repair is straight forward (nothing is ever simple on a boat), if labor intensive. Another thing on the list.


The important lesson is that for all it’s quiet beauty the river can turn rough. The good news is that I always put my boats away like it is going to storm, and maybe someday they will come through completely unscathed. (File that under Fever Dreams please.)

So I am reviewing my anchor system design, again.

Design Thoughts

One of the wonderful things about the Saturna is that she has real bulwarks, not just an aluminum rail. And having boats with both I feel I can appreciate both. If I had to redo the anchoring system design for the Beneteau, it would be much easier, the same bulwark that makes the Saturna safer means that all lines have to go over, or be attached to.

The fore deck area on the Saturna is well protected, but small. Adding the windlass (winch for anchors)  is going to significantly reduce the available working space. I may have to move the life raft (again).

The windlass not only takes up it’s own space, but there is the chain, at least one roller, and a chain stop to position and align.

In one of my nights designing it occured to me that maybe I had been approaching this the wrong way.

Background note. The top of the chain wheel (wildcat) on the windlass needs to be at or above the level of the roller on the anchor guide to make sure that the chain is engaged adequately. In the perfect world the chain would go half way around the chain wheel, but the location of the chain stripper on this winch precludes that without significant (warranty voiding) modifications to the device. This is core of my bulwark problem. The chain has to go up from the chain wheel. And it really has been keeping me up nights.

chain stopperMy designs have involved guiding the chain down to deck level (to get adequate wrap around the chain wheel) then forward to bulwark close to the deck, so I could mount the chain stop, then through three to four more rollers to get the chain over the bulwark and into the water. Way to complex

I had considered building up the deck to bring the windlass to the right level, and that was becoming a major fabrication project involving much on-boat building time with all the bother, mess, and down time involved. I like to build assemblies that can be built ashore and bolted (firmly) into place and removed for repair or replacement.

It finally occurred to me that I could build a platform using heavy duty extruded C-channels that would lift the mechanism off the deck, eliminate most of the complexity, and free up foot space forward. I am thinking something like a squat mushroom.

Sketches to follow when I get them off the back of the napkin.

Where there is design, and inspiration, there is hope.