An electric windlass lifts the anchor at the push of a button. Electric windlass have become very common on cruising boats because of their convenience and practicality. Electric windlass have also become a safety item since the boat could easily be moved to a better position by lifting the anchor quickly and deploying it again when you are not sure if the anchor was set properly or if the boat is in the correct position.
An electric windlass also allows you to have an all-chain anchor rode which is recommended for safety reasons on a cruising boat.
Vertical or Horizontal? (This defined by the position of the drive shaft) There are various factors to bring into the equation when selecting the correct electric anchor windlass for your boat. The first factor to consider is the size of your anchor locker and how much distance there will be between the top of the coiled anchor rode to the deck, this distance determines how much “fall” The chain rode will have. Gravity is the main influence in making your rode go down through the chain pipe and into your chain locker (not enough distance and your rode will jam or not coil properly all the way).
If your distance inside the chain locker from your top of your rode to the bottom of the deck is 16 inches (40.64 cm) or more you may choose either a vertical electric windlass or horizontal electric windlass.
The minimum recommended distance from the top of your rode to the bottom of the deck to install a horizontal electric windlass is 12 inches (30.48 cm)
If you have enough room to install either a horizontal electric windlass or a vertical electric windlass, then you must base your decision on other factors such as which one best fits your interests.
What size windlass do I need?
The rule of thumb when determining the size of your electric windlass is you add the weight of your heaviest anchor plus the weight of your entire rode and you multiply times 4
Example: (Anchor) 60 pounds (27.21 kg) + (Chain) 200 pounds (90.71 kg) = 260 pounds (117.93) x 4 = 1,040 pounds (471.73 kg) Estimated pulling power needed on the windlass (when in doubt go to a bigger size windlass)
Selecting the Correct Rode
Rope and, particularly chain, selection is extremely important. Deciding on the right anchor winch for your boat depends on the size, not only of the boat but also the ground tackle. Maxwell anchor winches and capstans are designed to take chain only, rope only or a combination of both. Automatic rope/chain systems are now commonly used on boats up to 20 meters (65 feet). Consequently, Maxwell’s HRC6, HRC8, HRC10, RC6, RC8, RC10 and the NEW RC12 automatic rope/chain systems have become increasingly popular, as they offer the added benefit of less weight in the bow with the ability to carry an increased amount of rode. Chain only systems will probably always remain popular on heavier displacement boats, cruising sailboats and motor yachts, (because of the above-mentioned reasons). There are two main types of anchor chains. Short link chain is most commonly used on small and medium-sized boats while stud link chain is generally used on much larger vessels such as Superyachts. The latter is characterized by a stud (bar) joining the two sides of the link preventing them from deforming when overloaded. High test or calibrated short link chain should always be used. Long or regular link chain should not be used with anchor windlasses.
There is a large variety of both metric (mm) and imperial (inches) chain sizes available and these will have an impact on your final windlass decision. It is important that the right size and right grade of chain is used to ensure a correct fit of the links to the gypsy. If the chain is not matched to the chainwheel problems may occur, such as the chain jumping off the gypsy or the chain jamming as it will not feed smoothly through the chain pipe. As chain to chainwheel compatibility is so important, some manufacturers such as Maxwell Marine supplies chainwheels to fit just about every known chain available on today’s international market.
To accurately select a Maxwell chainwheel for your boat based on the size and type your existing chain, click on the following link which will guide you on how to measure your chain links and you can download a chart which you can use when ordering your electric windlass