Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Windlass - good news bad news

Today we tried hauling anchor with our new windlass. It works great. . .then it doesn't. We have discovered a few problems that weren't anticipated. Well, that's what trial runs are for. Here's what happened.

I started hauling chain and it works great. Easy back and forth motion and plenty of mechanical advantage. then about half way to the anchor the chain started jumping off the gypsy (!). What the. . . At first I thought it was because the chain was twisted. When I looked closer though I could see that the links don't really fit the gypsy! They are spaced too far for this gypsy. At this point I figured that I checked it by simply laying the chain in the gypsy but not pulling it tight. Certainly taking up the little space where the links meet would change the usable link length.

We were going to go to Clarke's Court bay but being unable to use the windlass as is we decided to stay. I let out chain (this part works great. Just a simple clutch so you can control the speed at which the chain pays out.) To ease back where we were. But when I got there the boat was not where it was. I guess I pulled in enough chain to dislodge the anchor. So now I HAVE to haul up the anchor to re-anchor!

I tried the windlass again. Hey, it's working great. Sue kept moving the boat forward so not much tension on the chain. I'm looking at the chain in the windlass and it fits perfect! What the hell? I keep hauling and again about half way to the anchor it starts jumping off and upon inspection I can see that the links don't fit at all. A puzzle.

Then I looked REAL close. The part of the chain that is nearer the anchor is more rusted and more worn than the stuff that spends some of its life in the anchor locker. Looking at these used-hard links I see that the wire itself has thinned. That makes the link length too long! That explains perfectly why it jumps off at that point in the hauling process. Now I HAVE to buy new chain.

Other discovered problems:

The chain still piles up in the locker forcing Sue to abandon the helm and run forward into the v-berth and knock over the pile. This is an old problem. Now though we also had an instance of the chain getting stuck in the bottom of the 2" pipe that I installed. That hole is going to have to be bigger. In face I may cut a large rectangular opening so that I can reach in with the boat hook and knock over the pile from on deck. This opening will have to have a rim of some kind though to keep rainwater and spray out of the below-decks chain locker.

After working the windlass now I think it should still be a litle higher off the deck to make a better angle for the incoming chain. To this end I'm going to add a 3/4" or maybe two, slabs between the windlass and the deck.

So, probably off to buy new chain today. What the hell it's only money. Wonder how my mutual funds are doing?