How Many Hours for an Inch?

Our windlass is back – rebuilt, like brand new!!!   And, even better, we re-installed it and it’s working better than ever!  Aaaaahhhhhh!  But don’t think it was easy, when you’re working on a boat, nothing is ever as straightforward or as easy as it should be.  We have to keep remembering how good we’ll feel when we FINALLY figure out whatever the latest challenge is … because while the hours are clicking by with seemingly little to no progress, stuff starts to get a bit frustrating.

Our windlass finally finished it’s cross continent travels arriving back safely on “D” dock Saturday morning.

We started installing the above decks part Saturday morning … we had new stainless bolts, washers and locking nuts as well as silicone and the other necessities from the hardware store.  So we were ready … until one of the existing screws that didn’t need replaced snapped a head off the screw.

So maybe it DID need replaced after all.  But we’re in the land of plenty and even though it’s an hour round trip to the hardware store, an hour later we’re back and after a bit of swearing to get the backing plate to line up below decks with the screws and holes above decks, the top portion of the windlass is attached.

Here's the old motor -- looking a bit weird, bulging and dark in places it shouldn't be.

Here’s the old motor — looking a bit weird, bulging and dark in places it shouldn’t be.

Now for the motor.   The motor was what literally took days to get off and although one would think (as we did) that it should just SLIDE smoothly into place – we anticipated the toughest part being David having to be the contortionist to get into the chain locker and hold the heavy motor up while tightening the attachments.   There’s no room for two of us in that space, unfortunately.

The space available for installing the motor was less than ideal, especially for hoisting a 20# motor overhead while trying to thread a needle blindly.

The space available for installing the motor was less than ideal, especially for hoisting a 20# motor overhead while trying to thread a needle blindly.

But no, the machining is so exact, David’s description was that it’s like trying to line up a piece of thread into a needle hole — but you can’t see either the needle or the thread.  Just a couple hours of struggling with the heavy motor, we realized that this was never going to happen if he had to hold it at the same time.  So we borrowed a scissor jack and jerry-rigged a platform to balance the motor.  Now it’s better, not good, just better.

The new windlass motor, sans bulges and dark spots, balanced on the scissor jack

The new windlass motor, sans bulges and dark spots, balanced on the scissor jack

Another 4 hours and many new swear words later, it finally slid up magically and was attached — when he just happened to hit the hole in the needle with the thread.  The electrical wires were reattached and VOILA, when we step on the foot controls, our windlass goes up and down once more.

The real bummer was that it went up and down BEFORE we decided it needed preventative maintenance and six days of our labor, a month of getting shipped and refurbished, it does the same exact thing — makes our chain and anchor go up and down.   But we’re certain we averted a future problem which would happen at the least convenient time.  It’s always better to be proactive, but what a PITA!

Looking forward to spending many more years anchoring in paradise!

Looking forward to spending many more years anchoring in paradise!

And don’t you know, Tuesday (today for this post) looks like a great weather window to anchor out at some of the barrier island state parks and play for change instead of working on the boat.  Beach & fun, here we come!!!

 

 

Comments

  1. Keith Davie says:

    In spite of the obvious advantages to power windlass, your experience has me seriously reconsidering my plan to replace our manual windlass for an electric one! Truly sounds like a PITA. 🙂

  2. We had a perfectly adequate manual windlass before we left to cruiser the NW Carib. The electric windlass was a last minute addition and well worth it. Cruiser friends advised us that in difficult anchoring situations, lugging all that chain and heaving anchor up manually, after a time or two re-anchoring, you’re likely to be tired and satisfied, even though your gut says you should try it again. In the Sea of Cortez, Dave & Carolyn on sv Que Tal told us several boats had been lost on the reef, and the owners reported that their guts told them they should re-anchor, but they just didn’t have the energy or strength. So hence the electric windlass. This one has a manual override that works with a regular winch handle and is easier to hoist manually than our previous manual windlass. Just another thought to throw into the equation.

    • Keith Davie says:

      Hmm… Ok, now you’ve got me re-thinking! I do recall a certain 2:30am anchor drill in the BVI last year (my wife and I did a bareboat charter for our honeymoon) when a middle-of-the-night wind shift placed us on a lee shore. We had to re-anchor twice before we were “happy” again – and that would have been a bear without electrical help…

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