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Making the decision to invest in a large tender started us down a road with a couple of significant obstacles. To begin, we have enlisted the services of X-Marine here in Grenada to complete a major reinforcement of One Love’s davits. While the static load of the tender is about close to what the davits are specced for, we are not convinced that it will be enough in a seaway. I’ll write more about that when the actual construction begins. At present, the guys at X-Marine are making templates and fabricating pieces in their shop, which happens to be just across the lagoon from where One Love sits on the dock.

A much smaller issue, but one that still requires a solution, is raising the tender up onto the davits. Even though we purchased a RIB with an aluminum hull, giving us a great weight savings over a fiberglass model, the large outboard makes it a heavy beast to lift. To add to the challenge, the small single-speed winches mounted on the side of the davit arms are not well situated to apply leverage. I actually have to get up on my tip toes to get any kind of weight behind it.

We have already upgraded the block and tackle on the davits from a 3:1 to a 5:1 and now to a 7:1. Even with that increased advantage, raising the engine side of the tender with the little winch is a non-starter. Our friends Peter and Bobbi, whose boat Grand Cru has exactly the same tender and set up, pointed out that, if long enough, the davit line can be lead directly to one of the large 2-speed helm winches. That helps a lot but to be honest, it’s still a bear to grind it up.

The solution, of course, would be to have an electric winch. Many people are surprised to hear that a boat of this size does not already have electric winches at the helm. From a sailing point of view, I don’t really miss them. It sure would be nice for this dinghy issue though, and perhaps raising the main.

Also without an electric winch, Peter and Bobbi shared how they use a purpose built marine drill with a special bit that fits into a winch to power their tender up. They also told us that they have had issues with the motor on the device*. It just so happens that our friends Dave and Deb on Alexian, a 40′ Leopard here in the marina, happened to have one of these tools and he was eager for us to test it out. At the time we only had the 5:1 block and tackle rigged and when trying it out on the small winch, I quickly bailed on the idea as I could tell that I was going to kill the drill. After we upgraded to the 7:1, we tried it again using the larger helm winch and on single speed, it would do the job. I still wasn’t convinced though.

If you do any Google searches for winch drill you’ll no doubt find a comparison of this device and the Milwaukee 28-Volt Right Angle Drill. Wanting to compare the two, I made a request on the VHF radio net here to see if anyone had one. I received no response. Yesterday though, we were paid a visit by Jonathan from s/v Chez Nous, another Leopard, who heard my initial request but at the time, was out of range to respond. He was now in the area though and offered to bring it by later for us to check it out. Cool, right?

True to his word, Jonathan showed up yesterday afternoon with his drill case in hand. The Milwaukee is obviously a serious tool, it’s bulk and weight being one of its largest drawbacks. That was not a big deal for us though. What I wanted to test out was its power. Even though we were told the drill was not fully charged, we were pleased to find that it had no problem whatsoever powering the tender up onto the davits!

The drill does require the additional purchase of a specialized bit that fits into the 1/2″ chuck. It seemed to work perfectly. We did experience the one issue that I had read about on the net though, that being that the set screw on the drill’s chuck can sheer off when operated under large loads in reverse. Jonathan confirmed that he had had that problem. The solution is to only operate it in forward which, on a two-speed winch, means that it would only be operating in single speed mode. Although slower, that’s not a huge drawback and I suspect it would tax the drill even less. Not a bad thing.

Pros for the Milwaukee:

  • Powerful
  • Cheaper than the marine version
  • It’s a real tool! I’m sure we’ll find other uses for a powerful right angle drill


  • Big and bulky
  • Not waterproof

Given that list of pros and cons, I can say with certainty that we’ll be investing in a Milwaukee drill and bit to deal with this tender-raising issue.

*Subsequent to our trying the “marine device” and speaking to our friends, I emailed the company through their website’s contact form to ask if the rumors about them producing a model with a stronger motor were true. As of today, approximately a week after that message was sent, I have still not received a reply. 🙁


  1. If your buying Milwaukee…….your buying the best! I haven’t personally had my hands on a “battery” tool by them but over the last 35 years I’ve handled everything from the large right angle, to my Sawz -all of 25 years now. They are a standard for quality in just about every major boat building and repair facility. I know there is a new line of smaller battery tools flooding the markets, not sure about them. But knowing Milwaukee, if they make a battery right angle drill, they know how tough it has to be. Can you possibly use a corded one with that new fancy inverter? Sure would suck on a very rainy day though. 🙂

  2. Rich sells the Winchrite, did you contact him?

  3. Sounds like you have quickly sussed out the pros and cons, good job!

    Still, you might want to start an electric winch fund (every time you curse using the Milwaukee, it’s another $1 in the pot?). While I am sure it is waaay more expensive and might require some other logistical arrangements, I think you will find it to be very useful for both lifting the monster dink and the monster main.

  4. I’m sorry but , (no disrespect intended and sure, it’s not my money) this just sounds MICKEY MOUSE to me. Convert at least one winch, some winch to electric. If you have a fair lead from the davit to the helm winch and it is in a suitable position to redirect the main halyard, why wouldn’t you convert that one winch to electric and solve 2 problems? Spending a fortune to beef up the davits to carry a load that you then plan to lift with a drill motor?
    I must be missing something here. Rant over.

  5. I would hunt down friction. That tackle + winch should lift a car. Just a small rub early in the tackle can be a big problem. For example, a 6:1 tackle that is reeved incorrectly will practically lock-up under high load. If the ropes are rubbing past each other in the tackle, that is the problem.

  6. I’m an electrical contractor. In my 10 years in the biz owning my own large tools I’ve ripped the gears out of two Milwaukee “Hole Hawgs”. These are 120V tools made to work all day. I replaced the last one with a Makita DA4031. It’s going on 7 years of steady use and has outlasted the two Milwaukees together. Not cordless, but a much more powerful, durable tool than the one you’re considering. Less expensive to boot.

  7. We used the same Milwaukee drill with a winch bit on SV Joana for 5 years, mostly without a problem. When the drill and battery were new, on a full charge it would lift me (and you can guess how much I weigh) up our mast (62′ vertical off the deck) – no problem. However, this was through an Andersen 52ST winch – and on slow speed. The drill and bit are cheap, but they need to be coupled to an adequate sized winch. Diane made a neoprene sleeve using an old wet suit. I think the whole arrangement worked out very well. However, in time, we started to see that although the battery had enough juice to easily lift our mainsail, after 5 years it could no longer lift me up the mast in the Bosun’s chair. Last year while in Trinidad, we sold the drill and winch bit for $ 200US and installed an Andersen retrofit electric motor to our existing 52ST winch (about $ 2000 for the motor and electrics and another $ 450 for machining and adapting). We were planning to take the mast down anyway, so it made sense to do this. We’re very happy with this new arrangement, but it is more expensive and ties us to only 1 winch. With the Milwaukee, you can easily make any winch electric, any time. Just keep it out of the rain, and put it away, fully charged after every use.

  8. Why not making it easier? Smaller motor, smaller rib and a manual winch that is all season’s working. instead off preparing special features for a daily work-the KISS principle!

  9. You could convert one of your main wenches to electric. I just did my Lewmar on my Leopard 43 and got the kit from Defender for around $2700. Lewmar ELS Conversion Kit for 50ST Ocean Winches. Amazing power. I had the Milwaukee drill on my Lagoon 380 and found after a year the batteries needed replacing. Also it was too heavy for my wife to operate regularly. We both love the Electric Lewmar. Worth every penny.



  10. Another option for the davit system that I am considering installing is

    It is a small ATV winch that you could mount below decks and have it raise and lower the dink by the push of a button. 2500 lb capacity and weather proof.



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