3/11/2013 – Mind that windlass handle!

When we first got our boat, there was a mystery piece of canvas onboard.  It was about 2′ long,  only about 2″ wide, open at one end, and with a pair of sort of flanges along one of the long sides with snaps so the two flanges would snap together.  It was anyone’s guess what the heck this thing was.  We looked at all kinds of stuff on board to see if we could figure out what it was for.  The only thing that fit into it was the removable windlass handle.  But canvas covers on boats are usually to protect something from UV degradation, not something the galvanized steel handle was likely to suffer from.  So what was it for?

One day, I got the bright idea to try snapping the flange around a lifeline up forward and using the thing as a sort of horizontal holster for the windlass handle.  Well, it was a perfect fit.  I’m still not sure if that’s what it was originally intended for but if it wasn’t, it should have been.  Keeps the handle off the deck and out of danger of being kicked or washed overboard.

unsafe stowage

That’s the handle sitting between the teak deck and the bulwark, the thing with the black hand grip.

The main problem with the “holster” was the snaps.  Even when they’re made for marine use, snaps eventually get corroded to the place that they no longer come apart, or, if apart, will not snap back together.  And, sure enough, that’s what happened.  At least I assume that’s what happened.  For some reason or another, we removed the holster some time ago and I can no longer remember for sure why or where the heck it is.  Since then, the rope tether that was on the windlass handle chafed through and for a long time now, the handle has just been riding loose on the foredeck.  And, although we’ve never had a problem, once you see the potential for a problem, if you don’t fix it, you’ll be kicking yourself mightily when the problem eventually happens.  I’ve always meant to have a second handle made but, so far, never have so I’d better take care of the one I have.

Lulu put a bunch of Sunbrella scraps together and sewed up a holster during our trip from Santispac to Punta Chivato last week.  Today, I installed the grommets and hung it from the lifelines.  I need to come up with a prettier way to attach it than with the “clothes stops” that I’m using now, but they’ll work until I come up with something better.

safe stowage

I also rigged up a tether so, even if I were to get all fumbly-fingered, the handle should stay attached to the boat.  The handle stows all the way in the holster and can be removed just by pulling on the tether.

handle holster

The tether is long enough allow the handle to be used while still attached to the lifelines.

handle safely tethered

I think I’ll still get another handle made anyway,  just in case.


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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3 Responses to 3/11/2013 – Mind that windlass handle!

  1. Greg Peterson says:

    Looks like you have a manual winch. We have one and have yet to try it out (got the boat last June, a westsail 32). Seems like it would take forever to get all that chain in manually. Sounds like its not a problem for you guys. Is this true.
    Greg S/V Prion

    • Steve says:

      First off, congratulations on getting a superb boat. Now, regarding the windlass: I generally pull my anchor and chain aboard by hand. It’s fast and not all that hard. About the only time I use the windlass is to break the anchor free and I’m really supposed to use the boat’s motion for that and often do. If I had 60-70 feet of chain hanging straight down with a 35 lb. anchor on the end, I’d probably use the windlass for at least the first half. But, like you say, it’d be god-awful slow.

  2. Will Miller says:

    We have the same windlass on our Westsail 32 Chaika and we have a loop of cord on the handle that we drop over the windlass to keep it on board. The handle lies on the deck between the windlass and bulwarks.
    Enjoying reading your posts! We had Chaika in the Sea of Cortez some years back and loved it.

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