Re: Windlass

Hi Pete!

Roger will try to sell you on the vertical windlass. Trade names escape me
because I’ve already made my choice. But you might solicite his reasons, it
was a very good argument and he used vertical for 14 years. Being a Pardey
die-hard I can tell you about horizontal models. Seraffyn used the plaith
which is no longer made, but there is a great knockoff of it made by ABI
which IMHO is superior to the models found in a perusal of nationally
available marine catalogs. I believe the ABI windlass will run you about
1200 bucks.

Note we are talking about manual models here, and this is my beef with the
off the shelf models. Those companies all offer electric models so their
manual models are not as beefy or well made as they might have been. The
unspoken assumption being these are just toys, but if you are really serious
you will “step up” to the electric models. Points to look for are lifting
capacity, bronze/stainless steel construction, ease of maintenance, no

There was an excellent two part article in cruising world reviewing these
points. But I must admit to coasting on the research
already done by the Pardeys when they were searching for their own windlass.
They did choose a honey for Taleisin too and I sweat bullets trying to find
it. If you have ever seen the windlass mounted on Taleisin in any of their
videos or articles that is the model I’ll be using on Kokopelli. It’s ugly
as hell and nothing shiney or yachty about it. A no nosense two speed manual
windlass marketed by Holland Marine in Canada. Their catalog will cost you
10 dollars and they may be reached at 416 762 3821. This windlass is offered
in both a stainless and a bronze version and it will cost you around $1600
canadian (from the 97-98 catalog) This was my choice over the ABI because it
was sufficient for Taleisins 18000 pound displacement and so will be more
than adequate for the BCC.


Don / Daytona Beach
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Hello Jeremy, Nica, Russ & Carol:
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Thanks for the info in response to my query. Helps a great deal in
solidifying my approach.

Another item I have put off for acquisition later is a windlass. Plans
are for a manual type. So far I’ve looked at a Simpson Lawrence
“Hyspeed” and a Lofrans model.

I noticed, Nica, in your response ot Don (very interesting discussion)
you mentioned you had a manual windlass. What type is it? Anyone else
using a manual windlass and what types are they?

Thanks - Pete C.

On the question of horizontal vs vertical windlasses, Don has hit the nail on
the head twice:

Roger will try to sell you on the vertical windlass; and

There was an excellent two part article in cruising world reviewing these

Tom Neale wrote the two-part article, ‘Windlasses: The gut issues’, which
appeared in Cruising World April 1997, pp. 43-50 and CW May 1997, pp.
51-59. The article is sadly not available on the Cruising World website. It
may be on the CW CD-ROM (but my only attempt to buy that on-line produced a

Neale’s article covered the general issues (horizontal vs vertical, single
wheel vs dual wheel etc) and then went into the detail of 12 windlasses,
taking them apart and highlighting the good and weak points of their
construction and design. The May issue has the meat, reviewing 12
brands/models of windlasses.

Just to focus on the horizontal vs vertical question (referring to the
alignment of the axis of the windlass), I remember talking with Roger Olson
the day before Meryl and I ordered BCC116. I said to RO that I was keen on a
horizontal windlass. RO soon convinced me that a vertical windlass was the way
to go. But Roger is also v fast to point out that everything on a boat is a

Roger’s argument, as I remember it, covers the good and bad points of both and
goes like this:

Horizontal windlass: several brands and models are available in the US, most
with two-speeds; you can stand up to operate it manually; but only 2 or 3
chain links get gripped by the wildcat teeth, so in rough conditions 2 or 3
metres of chain can easily slip off the wildcat; and also in rough conditions,
the run of the chain (which is relatively high off the deck) from anchor
roller to wildcat often gets into a vertical slapping frenzy when the rode is
slack, which can be dangerous to you and the deck.

Vertical windlass: not as easy to find 2-speed brands in the US; you have to
kneel or bend over it, especially to work manually; about 5 chain links are
gripped by the wildcat, so the rode is unlikely to slip in choppy conditions;
the chain is low, chafing along the deck, but it is less likely to bounce
around; and because of the last two points, you can get away with running the
windlass from a remote in the cockpit, when you are singlehanding.

Most people forget to consider what it’s like to haul chain in a hurry to get
out of an anchorage that has become uncomfortable. That’s exactly the time
when a vertical windlass (as long as it’s powered) shows its superiority over
a horizontal one.

Tom Neale’s excellent article also discussed the pros and cons of vertical and
horizontal windlasses. TN did not consider the use of a windlass in choppy
conditions (although his article, as befits a long-term live-aboard and
cruiser, did start out with the scenario of using a windlass at 0200 in choppy
conditions to recover a dragging anchor).

TN’s take on the horizontal/vertical question went like this:

Vertical windlass: motor and gearbox are usually below deck, so may be
inaccessible for servicing; depending on design and seal maintenance, water
can seep down through the deck plate, down the drive shaft and into the
gearbox; the rode must be guided off the wildcat/gypsy into the chainlocker;
it’s hard to exert a strong pull when working it manually, because you’re
kneeling or crouched over the windlass; but there’s less deck clutter, a
neater appearance, and the rode can come onto the wildcat/gypsy from a wide

Horizontal windlass: only thru-bolts pierce the deck, reducing the chance of
leaks; motor and gearbox accessible for servicing; but a good seal around
motor and gearbox is essential if you bury your bow; many units have separate
wheels that are clutched independently, which is an advantage when using two
anchors; you stand over the unit to operate it manually or to tail a rope
rode; can be used as a capstan for warps or even for winching someone up the
mast (TM claims to use it that way); ideally the rode has to come to the wheel
axis at 90 degrees.

I’ve opted, as I said above, for a vertical electrical windlass for BCC116.
On our previous boat, we were 100% manual - thick leather work-gloves and an
all-chain rode, no windlass at all - but we’re older, weaker and slower now.



Bil Hansen
Post: PO Box 2978 MCPO, 1269 Makati MM, Philippines

does anyone know if parts, esp different wildcats are available for the old Plath
windlasses? thanks
john churchill