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It only took one time of raising our new ground tackle by hand to show me that we need an anchor windlass. It’s not that is was ridiculously heavy. There were, however, many times when the chain needed to be secure while I was leaning over the bow removing seaweed. This maneuver was awkward to say the least, and in anything other than calm conditions, could actually have been a bit unsafe.

So, now that I have spent the last month researching ground tackle options, I am now searching for windlasses. Decision one: manual or power. Both Rebecca and I like simple. Simple is easy to install and easy to maintain. For this reason we were leaning towards a manual windlass. Guess what? There is only about one or two manual windlasses manufactured these days. All others are electric. It just so happens that Pride Marine had one on their shelves. A Lofran Royal. Sadly, after trading a large sum of cash for this shiny new chain-hauling device and bringing it back to our boat, we see that it just won’t fit. The shape of the bow and the position of both the deck pipe and forward railing mean that there just isn’t any room for it. Sooo… I guess we’ll have to go electric then.

Not only is there no room for the manual windlass there would actually not be room for any horizontal windlass, the second of two big choices. Horizontal windlasses have their motor above decks and are mounted in front of the deck pipe (where their isn’t a lot of room on our boat). Vertical windlasses are smaller above deck because their motors are installed in the anchor locker. They also go behind the deck pipe, where we do have room. So, vertical it is.

The ease of use of an electric windlass, in many people’s eyes, is a big safety feature. It allows the operator to raise and lower the anchor as many times as necessary without thought of the effort involved. This ease of use is balanced out by two short-term challenges. First is that electric windlasses cost more money. What else is new? The second is that they need power to run! This makes installation a lot more complex!

Bringing in the bridle line.


  1. I think you made the right decision to (eventually!) go for an electric windlass. Make sure it also has manual override.

    • I still like to concept of a manual windlass. I actually found a different model today that “could” possibly fit. A Muir Easyweigh 500. The only downside to a manual for us is the speed of bringing the anchor up. I know I would like an electric windlass but is it worth the effort to install, added expense and electrical requirements to have one?

  2. Congratulations Mike and Rebecca!

    I just heard from Lyndsay today, who let me know about your quest to be free of the land/office lock, the rest of us are (for now at least) stuck with.

    After spending over an hour reading your blog entries, start to finish, I admire the detail and dedication with which you take on new projects. Speaking as someone who researched at least 20 hours to purchase something as simple as a new blender, I can say without a doubt, that you are tackling this from the right angle.

    My own sailing ambitions aside, it’s refreshing to see people jumping in head-first WITH common sense, and I’ve found the references useful and inspiring.

    I also love the adaptive nature of using a manual “egg” style washer. One more way to untether! (not to be confused with your iPhone that is ;o)

    If you can rig a pinwheel setup, either water or wind powered (at cruise speeds), you may be able to get that egg crank-arm spinning automatically!

    Another item you may be interested in, depending on space of course, is a solar oven/cooker. The more sun you enjoy, the greater it’s usefulness will be. Compact, foldable, and will never burn your food (although it may take a few hours to cook) But it seems time will be on your side once you launch!

    Keep the updates coming! I’ll continue to read with envy!

    • Hi Wes

      Nice to hear from you. I actually have a couple sources for solar ovens bookmarked (in my ever growing list of things to buy folder). I also think it would be perfect in the tropics.


  3. Ahhh, the windlass dilemma. On our PDQ we went without. Well, we actually had an old manual one on board but only used it once or twice when we were really in a bind. We dropped and raised anchor by hand every. single. time. At age 28, I guess we didn’t care or know better or couldn’t afford otherwise. But it never felt like a burden. And the money for a windlass can buy you A LOT of living down island. And we were never as fit as we were while cruising full time, anchoring by hand, and hauling jerry cans of water.

    • OK, I can relate to that. I have a question though. When you are raising the anchor hand over hand, what did you do if you needed to secure it for a moment, to remove weeds for example. What I did was have a chain hook on a short piece of line, tied to a cleat. I used that to secure the chain temporarily, did what I needed to do, and then resumed pulling. It worked but seemed “ugly.” Is there a better way?

  4. I will have to ask my husband to come and respond as to what he remembers. But here is what I remember. I think we just laid all the chain on the tramp — mud, weeds and all — and then while the helmsperson got underway the anchor person then cleaned the chain using a bucket on a long rope — scooping & splashing — then once it was clean we laid it back in the anchor locker.

    again, we were keeping it simple on purpose. we were young and broke for starters. but also it meant staying fit and having systems that we knew woldn’t fail. There were MANY times we were able to move on leaving friends behind waiting for a part or a mechanic for their (fill in the blank) — windlass-generator-chart plotter-water maker you name it.

    So many thins the magazines say are “must haves” you can truly do without. Our challenge on this new boat has been how to simplify her to make her more like our old trusty PDQ.

    Hope that answers your question somewhat.

  5. I agree that simple is good. However, the reality also is that we don’t get younger, and things that are easy at 28 or 45 become less so at 67. There are also times when speed can make the difference between having to leave behind a perfectly good set of ground tackle and being able to get it up fast enough to take it with! Storms come to mind. Having said that, neither age nor storms are your current problem, so if you can get the ground tackle up espediently and wash it off later, get the electric windlass later. It wil cost more later, but it will be in shape for when you need it, rather than being worn out! Good luck in your search. I LOVE reading your blog!

  6. […] doing some research, a cruising couple who are also on a PDQ 32 (Mike and Rebecca) ran into the same situation.  They opted for a Lewmar Profish 1000.  So, after exchanging a few emails with them and I’ve […]

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