Thursday, April 18, 2013

Mind that windlass handle!

s/v Siempre Sabado has a manual windlass.  Keeping the handle to that windlass handy to the windlass and yet still keeping it aboard would seem to be conflicting goals.  Steve and Lulu show that they can both be met:
When we first got our boat, there was a mystery piece of canvas onboard.  It was about 2′ long,  only about 2″ wide, open at one end, and with a pair of sort of flanges along one of the long sides with snaps so the two flanges would snap together.  It was anyone’s guess what the heck this thing was.  We looked at all kinds of stuff on board to see if we could figure out what it was for.  The only thing that fit into it was the removable windlass handle.  But canvas covers on boats are usually to protect something from UV degradation, not something the galvanized steel handle was likely to suffer from.  So what was it for?

One day, I got the bright idea to try snapping the flange around a lifeline up forward and using the thing as a sort of horizontal holster for the windlass handle.  Well, it was a perfect fit.  I’m still not sure if that’s what it was originally intended for but if it wasn’t, it should have been.  Keeps the handle off the deck and out of danger of being kicked or washed overboard.

unsafe stowage
That’s the handle sitting between the teak deck
and the bulwark, the thing with the black hand grip.

The main problem with the “holster” was the snaps.  Even when they’re made for marine use, snaps eventually get corroded to the place that they no longer come apart, or, if apart, will not snap back together.  And, sure enough, that’s what happened.  At least I assume that’s what happened.  For some reason or another, we removed the holster some time ago and I can no longer remember for sure why or where the heck it is.  Since then, the rope tether that was on the windlass handle chafed through and for a long time now, the handle has just been riding loose on the foredeck.  And, although we’ve never had a problem, once you see the potential for a problem, if you don’t fix it, you’ll be kicking yourself mightily when the problem eventually happens.  I’ve always meant to have a second handle made but, so far, never have so I’d better take care of the one I have.

Lulu put a bunch of Sunbrella scraps together and sewed up a holster during our trip from Santispac to Punta Chivato last week.  Today, I installed the grommets and hung it from the lifelines.  I need to come up with a prettier way to attach it than with the “clothes stops” that I’m using now, but they’ll work until I come up with something better.

safe stowage

I also rigged up a tether so, even if I were to get all fumbly-fingered, the handle should stay attached to the boat.  The handle stows all the way in the holster and can be removed just by pulling on the tether.

handle holster

The tether is long enough allow the handle to be used while still attached to the lifelines.

handle safely tethered

I think I’ll still get another handle made anyway,  just in case.
(And those are some nice examples of marlinespike seamanship out there on the end of the bowsprit in that last picture!  Is that ocean plait?)


  1. We have the same windlass on our Westsail 32 Chaika and we have a loop of cord on the handle that we drop over the windlass to keep it on board. The handle lies on the deck between the windlass and bulwarks

  2. Those things out on the bowsprit are two mats I made out of old jib sheets I got from a neighbor in La Paz. Lulu washed them and we put them out there to dry as they get great air circulation all around. Obviously, we don't leave them there when we're underway because that'd just be asking for it, no matter how calm the conditions. As to what it's called, I'm not really sure, but ocean plait sounds right. I did a blog about making mats out of manila a couple years ago. I believe you printed the blog at the time.



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