Of the many improvements we made on deck, one of the biggest was replacing the horizontal Simpson Lawrence windlass that was mounted too low inside the anchor locker. First, I tried adding a large roller forward of the windlass to lead the chain on a better angle to the windlass, but the increase in friction created such a load that the chain still skipped on the gypsy. The small, supposedly waterproof foot buttons kept corroding, not working, and those were a real nuisance
I selected a vertical Maxwell 1200 windlass with both chain and rope gypsies as shown below, and it has been a lifesaver. Installation required substantial deck modification and heavier wiring. I added dual watertight handheld controls, one at the bow and one in the cockpit, but all the work was well worth it. Setting or retrieving an anchor is now a simple task, and we never hesitate to reset if we’re not comfortable.
Coupled to the 12 volt windlass system is our ground tackle, our primary boat insurance. It consists of our:
Primary anchor – a Rocna 25 kg (55 lbs) w/ 200ft of 5/16″ G-4 chain
Secondary anchor – Bruce 33 lb. w/ 50′ of G4 and 150′ of 5/8″ nylon rode
Storm anchor – a Fortress FX 37 w/ 50′ of G4 chain
We went through a series of real world cruising experience to end up where we are now with this gear. The vessel came equipped with a 33lb Bruce anchor when we bought her. We soon upgraded to a Bruce 44lb, added a Danforth, then the Fortress, then finally, after dragging one too many times while cruising the Yucatan peninsula, we bit the big bullet and bought a big Rocna 25 (that’s 55 lbs).
Can I tell you we love this hunk of heavy metal? Oh yeah, we do. I lower it to the bottom, drift back laying out the chain, set the anchor, and the boat slams to a stop. I soon realized that I really need to hold onto something when Joy backs the anchor down to set it. More than once I’ve lost my balance as the Rocna grabbed the bottom. We sleep well with this gear.
Note the heavy duty swivel, & positive locks front and back.
I’ll take a minute to talk about another piece of cruising gear – the attachment of our anchor to our chain. For years we used a typical hi strength shackle, one size larger than the chain, but it always hung up as it passed through our bow roller. In addition, the chain tended to twist making it difficult to bring the anchor on deck. I added a Suncor 316 stainless steel swivel that worked well for about four years. One day it unexpectedly cracked, whether through faulty design or materials, I don’t know. To their outstanding credit, Suncor, a USA company, replaced the swivel with a newer, much beefier design. All I had were photos of the failed equipment, no receipt or proof of purchase, just my maintenance log indicating when I installed the unit. Suncor has earned my respect and support.
In 2006 I added a 3/8″ inner forestay with a Wichard quick release lever to handle our storm jib. When sailing offshore, we leave the small sail in its bag hanked onto this stay with sheets attached; it’s ready to go at a moment’s notice should we need it. We find the sail very easy to fly and use it often.
Above is a photo of the backing plate we added for the inner forestay.
We installed new deck hatch lenses direct from Goiot in 2013 along with Sunbrella covers to protect the glass when at anchor or dock. All the rigging has been replaced and the chainplate assemblies removed, inspected, and reinstalled in 2014. In addition to all the improvements we discuss, we keep a detailed computerized record of all maintenance, replacements, and upgrades for our future reference. All part of our daily routines.