Anchor Windlass Woes

At first glance you may not have noticed the wonky seating of this windlass on the forward deck.

When you look in the Right Places

During a survey I attended with a prospective new buyer, we noticed the windlass was not sitting properly on the deck. Upon closer examination, we discovered it was almost yanked off the boat. Yup…seeing is believing. And when you Ask Captain Chris you can see a whole lot more. Don’t forget to look at the photos too. Lots to learn today!

While I am not a surveyor, I have been a boat owner for the past 55+ years. OK, I owned my first boat at 8 years old. But since the age of 18 all of my boats have been between 30 and 65 feet. And working commercially on crew boats, shrimp boats, tugs, water taxis and dive boats, I’m quite comfortable spying what’s right and what’s not. And I’ll share that experience with you when I join you aboard a boat during a survey. I also help prospective buyers by previewing a boat online before you buy a plane ticket to come look for yourself. Many times I will suggest specific items and equipment needing an additional keen inspection when you actually go aboard.

This Bitter End Left A Bitter Taste

Understanding what I was there to do, this new buyer and I poked around everywhere. When we looked in the anchor locker we discovered the chain was bolted directly to the boat. That’s a big don’t that we will address in a moment. But sometimes you cannot easily see inside the anchor locker. So,  you should ask to deploy all the anchor rode. This is a task that can be accomplished in less than 15 minutes if everything is working as expected. If not, then you have identified a potential problem that’s good to know before you make any offer to purchase.

In this instance, we exposed a major issue by deploying the entire anchor rode. We could see quite clearly what was wrong when 100% of the chain was let out. At some time previous, the weight of the boat and the Bitter End of the chain tried to pull the windless out of the deck bolting. Uh-oh!

A few simple rules.

First, know how much rode you have in total. Then mark your chain or chain and rope (rode) to know how much is deployed. This helps you know when you are close to the end, the Bitter End. And these markings help you set the anchor with the proper scope to sleep comfortably overnight. This information is also valuable when weighing anchor. How much is still overboard? And last, just untie or cut the rope on the Bitter End if your anchor is stuck and you have to leave the anchor. Remember that chain directly linked to the hull? Try cutting that connection in an emergency!

A Side Note: if your anchor chain constantly jams or jumps out of the chain gypsy (think sprocket) it may be the wrong type of chain link. Look at the code on the gypsy and check with the manufacturer.

And the Answer is…

We could solve this problem easily. A boatyard built a thick aluminum backing plate for both the top and bottom of the windlass mounting bolts.

And, when you need to learn more about your boat, or the next boat you think you want to buy, just Ask Captain Chris! 772-205-1859