8/16/2012 – Winch Wench

Last weekend Lulu and I drove up to Port Ludlow, Washington to attend the Pacific Northwest Westsail Owner’s Association Rendezvous. We were hoping to meet up with some old friends and maybe meet some new ones as well.

Our first surprise came when we realized that the couple sitting next to us on Saturday morning were Gary and Sheila from the Westsail 28, Irish Rose, out of Port Angeles. We first met Gary & Sheila when we were still boatless and trying to decide which boat to set our sights on. We had been a little discouraged in our search for Westsail 32s at that point. Not that there weren’t plenty of them for sale and not that there weren’t some pretty nice specimens available. Trouble was that the nice ones were out of our price range and the ones that we could sort of afford were mostly project boats. Unfortunately, even the project boats would take all our money leaving none for the projects. We were determined to buy our retirement boat outright – no going into debt for it. That just seemed like the wrong way to start our retired years. So, we started looking around at Westsail 28s for sale. There were a few here and there and they mostly seemed pretty affordable. Since only about 60 of them were built, there were far fewer for sale than there were W32s. They looked like good solid boats but, having never actually seen one, much less been aboard one, we thought that maybe we should remedy that before we proceeded. So, I sent a query to the Westsail Owner’s Association message board asking if there were any W28 owners in the Pacific Northwest who wouldn’t mind if Lulu and I came and checked out their boats. Gary & Sheila said, “Sure, c’mon up.”.

One weekend, we headed up to Port Townsend where Irish Rose was moored. We went aboard and were very impressed. The interior was tiny, yes, but it seemed like it would be reasonably liveable. Gary is well over 6′ tall and Sheila is a little taller than Lulu and they seemed to have no trouble managing aboard. That bode well for a couple of hobbits like us. Irish Rose was a beauty and they had obviously put a lot of work and thought into her layout and accommodations. We hit it off with Gary and Sheila right away and, at one point they mentioned that the boat might be up for sale sometime soon. We asked them to be sure and give us first crack at her and they agreed. As luck would have it, they weren’t quite ready to sell when we were ready to buy and we bought a different W28 instead. We’d kind of lost touch over the years and it was really good to see them again. Even cooler when I found out that Gary is a fellow ukulele player.

Someone else we were really looking forward to meeting was another W28 owner, Kevin and his wife, Marilyn. Kevin is one of my blog readers and also a contributor to the Westsail Owner’s Association discussion forums. He’s given me lots of good advice over the years and I felt like I already knew him even though we’d never met or even spoken on the phone. Kevin is also a representative for Lewmar, a manufacturer of sailboat hardware, winches, anchors, etc. so he has a lot of knowledge and experience from that end of things. Starwhite is his second W28 and he and Marilyn have cruised extensively, including the South Pacific so you can believe that I listen when he speaks. Couldn’t wait to meet him and check out his boat.

Lulu and I recently bit the bullet and purchased 2 Lewmar self-tailing winches for our jib/genoa sheets. I followed Kevin’s advice on which size would work best. Why did we decide to splurge on new winches? Well, let’s take a look at Kevin’s cockpit to help explain:



See where the turning block is? That’s exactly where the cleat for our sheet is located. The unfortunate thing about this placement on Siempre Sabado is that, due to the location of the propane tanks, the only place that a cushion with a back will fit is between the winch and the propane tank, completely obscuring the sheet cleat. Consequently, every time that the jib need trimming, the cushion, and the person sitting on it, have to be moved out of the way. When it comes time to tack, it’s even worse as both cushions need to be moved. And frankly, there aren’t any really good places to move them while we’re messing with the sails so they are always in the way. I guess we could do away with the cushions but they’re the only thing that makes the cockpit at least somewhat comfortable. By using self-tailing winches instead, we can replace the cleat with a turning block which will work just fine whether a cushion is in front of it or not.

Knowing that we were new to self-tailing winches as well as to Lewmar (our current winches are Australian Barlows), Kevin decided we needed a lesson on disassembly and maintenance of our new winches. He sat us down in Starwhite’s cockpit and proceeded to show us just how easily our new winches could be serviced. He also showed us the places to watch out so we didn’t lose some critical part. Although the lesson started out just for Lulu and I, it wasn’t long until a substantial crowd was gathered on the dock listening in. Kevin does this kind of thing at seminars all over the country (or maybe all over the world) so he’s used to talking to a crowd. He’s also very good at stripping a winch down and putting it back together. He said he can strip one of these winches down in 13 seconds!

After he demonstrated, I took the winch apart and put it back together successfully. Lulu decided that this looked like something that was right up her alley and made up her mind to become Siempre Sabado’s winch wench.

Once we got back home, she dismantled both our new winches, partly to remove most of the excess grease that the factory packed them with, but mostly to remind herself how it’s done.



She managed to get it all taken apart without losing anything, but could she get it back together?



Looks like she’s got it.

And, voilá, a beautiful hunk of boat bling:



Can’t wait to get these beauties mounted on Siempre Sabado.

We had a great time at the rendezvous. We missed seeing old friends Don and Betty from the W32 Priya but we managed to meet a lot of great new folks, some of whom even follow this blog. So, to you guys, it was great to meet you and we hope you keep on reading. Might see y’all again next year.


About sryoder

Steve & Lulu... retired. Had enough of the cold wet dreary fall/winter/spring in the Pacific Northwest. Bought a boat, fixed it up, sold our home and sailed to Mexico in November, 2010. Been here ever since except for occasional forays to the States (summer only, thank you) to visit the kids, parents and siblings. If you're looking for a sailing blog, this is the wrong place. This is a traveling, hunkering in, eating blog. Sailing is just how we get from place to place when we can't walk.
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8 Responses to 8/16/2012 – Winch Wench

  1. Bob says:

    Sadly, we were in Port Ludlow just the week before – we would have loved to meet up with you.

    s/v Eolian

  2. chuck/Jacaranda says:

    steve – Check your sailmail, Chuck

  3. sailmama says:

    Greetings, fellow Westsailors!
    I would LOVE a lesson on becoming the “winch wench” for our baby….sometime when we meet up next winter, perhaps? It’s been on our “to do” list for a long time, and I guess we were probably intimidated as we have heard it’s easy to lose the springs if one isn’t extremely careful. This gives us hope.

    Please see your email from us – sending you a link to photos about our newest way to drain the retirement kitty!! Glad you are having a great time on land. k (and Keith)

  4. Dani says:

    Westsail rendezvous sound like so much fun! We are headed to one this October in Kemah Tx.

    Those winches look great:D. I totally understand the need for a backrest. Whoever thought sitting would be just fine with them had it wrong.

  5. Gary Maier says:

    I just stumbled on your blog….looks like I have lots of reading to do. I’m happy to hear that you are enjoying your life. Maybe we can work out a way to get together sometime.

    • sryoder says:

      GARY! Great to hear from you out of the blue. Glad you found the blog. Keep in touch and we’ll see if we can manage to meet up somewhere sometime.

      Folks, this is an example of the amazingness of the internet. Gary and I were shipmates aboard the USS Tolovana (AO-64) way back in the late 60s and very early 70s. We’ve been incontact maybe twice since then, the latest probably some 10-15 years ago via phone. The internet makes this a small world indeed. I’m continually in awe.

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