Tag Archives: anchoring

Rebuilding the Windlass

Our windlass is a vital part of our boat as it controls our anchor and anchor chain.  It allows us to use the motor to raise and lower our 100 meters of 10mm stainless chain and 33 kilo spade anchor.  We replaced the motor, gaskets and a few other small pieces in Costa Rica 2019, but we have not taken the top portion of the windlass apart for some time.

We were having issues with the windlass as it was drawing too much power to operate.  Something was causing friction or issues making the motor work too hard which then overloaded the batteries.  Never a good thing to have the boat shut down as you are trying to bring up the anchor.

Getting Started

In order to work on the windlass we have to disengage the anchor chain.  However, we did not want it to drop into the marina water so we ended up securing the anchor and chain to the bow roller.

We ordered new gaskets, o-rings, a sure clip, and a bearing from Lewmar (which took forever to arrive).  As Matt was taking everything apart he realized that the spacer had rotted.  Well shoot!  For some reason, Lewmar has stainless and aluminum pieces put together which is odd as these two materials don’t like each other.  

End of Year Delay

New problem. This spacer was not available anywhere in NZ, USA, or Europe!  Evidently Lewmar would not be manufacturing more of these pieces until end February (it was December when we discovered the problem).  If we were to wait, the part would not get to us until April or May. That would mean that we could not leave the marina as we would have no means to anchor which was simply unacceptable.  So, we decided to take it to RH Precision Engineering to have a new one fabricated.

Rob at RH Precision was wonderful!  We dropped the sad little spacer off on Friday before Christmas and he called us on Wednesday 28 Dec to tell us it was ready!  And on top of that he only charged us $100NZD and 2 beers!  We would have spent hundreds of dollars more had we ordered it from Lewmar.  And it is beautiful and works perfectly!

We discovered the culprit was a rotted cord deck which held the spacer.  Sea water had seeped into the wood, rotted it out and kept the spacer wet.  So, Matt had to dig out all of the rotted wood, let it dry out, then filled it with epoxy.

We were finally able to complete the windlass project after 3 weeks, mostly waiting on parts.  Now, we should be able to anchor without putting too much stress on our batteries.

Events from this blog occurred in late December and early January 2023.  Our blog posts run 6-8 weeks behind actual events. We upgrade Sugar Shack with lithium batteries and Starlink in our last blog.


Matt and I have fallen into a pretty good routine of chores and duties on the boat.  Matt cooks and handles most of the maintenance (engines, electrical, plumbing, you name it – he can do it).  He also likes to work the lines which means I sit at the helm a lot when we are under sail.  However, when we anchor, Matt is at the helm and I am working the windlass (Wendy) and the spade (Davey) our anchor.  When we anchor, we typically let out a 10 to 1 scope (meaning for every meter of water, we have 10 meters of chain).  So, if we are in 6 meters of water, we have out 60 meters of chain.  After that, we put on the bridle which is about another 8-10 meters and then I will let out between 20-30 meters of kellet (chain that sits on the ground after the bridle to prevent the boat from moving around too much-just an added protection.  Probably a bit overkill but it has served us well in the past.

On this bright and beautiful morning, the sun was shining, the water was crystal clear, and the breeze was soft.  I looked down and saw all of my beautiful chain and thought that is a pretty picture.  Until that is, the windlass stopped bringing up the chain.  Hmmm…bent over the seagull striker, looked down, and thought oh no!  My chain is wrapped around a rock or something.

My anchor chain fouled on an old mooring.

My anchor chain fouled on an old mooring.

Keep in mind, we are in 7 meters of water (21’), I cannot hold my breath that long so, down went Matt.  After a beat or two, he came up and said, it’s fouled on an old mooring and we need the hookah. Great.  So, we got all the gear out, connected it to the stern engine battery and Matt went back down – except the hookah cable did not reach. It had to travel 50’ from stern to bow and then 21’ down to the mooring.  So, we got the spare battery out, brought everything to the bow and back down he went.  After an eternity (or actually 7-8 minutes) he came up with the line clear.

Hooka Round II trying to reach the mooring.

Hooka Round II trying to reach the mooring.

Matt under the tramp attempting to unfoul the anchor chain.

Matt under the tramp attempting to unfoul the anchor chain.

Matt 3 meters under water fixing our anchor chain

Matt 3 meters under water fixing our anchor chain.

All in all the entire adventure took about an hour, but once everything was stowed, we went on our merry way.