Sunday, January 8, 2012

Jammed Windlass

A winter storm had passed, a boon to Chesapeake Bay fossil hunters. The waves undercut the bank, cliffs slide, and new samples are exposed. After a pleasant sail, I planned to anchor offshore, dingy in, and walk the beach.

I hadn't used the anchor in a month or more, and the last place had fabulously stick mud on the bottom. I think the chain brought up most of it and left 1/3 of it under the windlass gypsy, cementing the gypsy to the base. The anchor wouldn't lower and the windlass was tripping its breaker.

I should have taken a photo when I began cleaning--quite a pile of shells, small stones, and cement-like mud were removed. The stones under the gypsy were the main problem.

I don't give up easily, so there is always a manual option. For those of you with Simpson-Lawrence Sprint series windlasses, or any similar model, note that the hause pipe can be revealed by removing just 2 screws on the front cover. The chain can then be brought in or out manually without difficulty. Well, not too much. Padding the front beam with a towel is a good idea.

As for freeing the windlass, a few taps with a light hammer and a simple flossing did the trick. Heavy waterproof grease was applied liberally, assuring that the next opening will be a bit easier.

(In retrospect, since I had to replace the windlass not long after, I think failed bearings contributed to the problem. The second time the windlass jams, replace it. Not that I'm anti-repair, mind you, but in my case corrosion insured the case would not open and the sounds convinced me that there would be a lot of parts to replace.)

"Well it just goes to show you, it's always something."

Rosanna Rosannadanna, SNL


  1. Fantastic blog, Drew. Glad I found it. We live in the same area (I slip in Hansel's).

    Went sailing with a friend out of Shipwright on Saturday. The weather was beautiful, and it was a fantastic day to sail.

    My marina is too shallow to leave the boat there in the winter - when wind and tide work together, some of the sips dry out, so I'm hauled at Shipwright 'til March or April.

    I'm looking forward to reading though your archives.

    Rick Bailey

  2. You will find us at the "catamaran" marina (Phipps) just up the creek from you, across from the fuel dock.

    For the first 15 years I was there, I was the only sailboat in the marina. The economy went bad, I started passing the word on the net and over at HHN, and a bunch of catamarans showed up. The reason, of course, is that workboat slips tend to be wide... and shallow. Yup, some days I can't get out, perhaps a few every few winters, but as a cat, she doesn't lean.

    I love the quiet of winter; I'll go overnight somewhere next weekend, I think.