To begin, I am not very happy with our windlass right now. Yesterday I visited the boat to clean up the salon (aka disaster area) and take some wire measurements. The windlass, which is actually quite heavy, was sitting on the salon seat. As the weather was chilly and rain was starting to fall, I had the sliding hatch closed and thus was partially bent over. Stooping to pick up said heavy windlass without correct posture has now resulted in me having a sore back! Fairly ironic isn’t it? We get the windlass so that we don’t hurt our backs pulling up the anchor and then I hurt my back because of the stupid windlass. 🙁
Now that I have vented I’ll describe what’s going on with the windlass install preparations. As I mentioned the other day, we had our friend visit our boat and give us his abbreviated install recommendations. Yesterday, after hurting my back, I set out to take some measurements to determine how long the wire runs would be. This is a very important step in the installation process as the wire size needs to be selected based on the length of the run. The longer the runs the thicker the wires need to be. This is to minimize voltage drop and safeguard the electrical system. In order to determine how long the wire runs will be you first need to figure out how you’re going to get them from the batteries to the windlass installation location. For me this meant a little bit of exploration. Sore back and all I began crawling and twisting, peering into hatches and in one case, removing cabinets. Although I was not being super patient with the whole process (my back was sore, remember?) I think I have a rough idea that the run will be about 20 feet one way. Add on another 25% for error and we would then have 25′ one way. The total wire run is actually calculated from the batteries to the windlass and back though, bringing our final length to approx. 50 feet.
Behind medicine cabinet in the head.
So how big of wire do we need then? Well, I know of two ways we could find out. We could of course check the windlass documentation to see what the manufacturer says, but how much fun would that be? Option two is to use the handy Blue Sea Systems Wire Wizard. I compromised and did both, finding out that the Windlass docs and the wizard both concur and say that we need AWG 4 which, based on the price I just found online, costs 2.49/ft here locally.
As far as running the actual wire goes I don’t think it will be super difficult. I should have reasonable access in most places. Let’s just say that I’m sure it could be a lot worse!
Part of our windlass-installation dilemma, which I know I have mentioned in the past, is that the surface of the deck where it needs to be mounted is not flat. In fact, it is a fairly complex curve, sloping off in several directions. My solution at this point is to fabricate a base pad out of a large block of teak. This will take some work but I think, once done, it will both do the trick of providing a flat, strong surface to mount the windlass on, and it will also look good. I can just see me now, sitting up on the bow of the boat with a piece of sandpaper, working away at the block until I get the proper fit. 🙂
A rough idea of the starting dimensions for the base pad.
The following video should give an idea of what I have in mind:
I mentioned two days ago about the process of drilling through the deck and then sealing the cored holes with epoxy to prevent water damage. I came across this page which shows a windlass install and has some very detailed information on the subject. Check it out.