The windlass

The boat is equipped with a LOFRANS TIGERS windlass in front of the main cabin. It’s a 12V DC device with a power of 1200W capable of one side operation only: the anchor chain is released by gravity and hauled in by means of the electric motor.

The following picture is the one I took when I did my own survey of the boat before acquisition.

From these pictures it is clear that the windlass has been subject to a lot of DIY transformations. For some reason it ended on a board of hardwood and was surrounded by a lot of holes (partially filled), traces of wear and tear, dirt and pilled up quantities of filler of some kind.

The chain is corroded, that is not a real surprise, not to say a normal thing. But the bugger in the inventory of the anchoring system is the length of the chain: a small 30 m. It was extended with a hard rope: the windlass can carry the chain but not the rope. For that reason the system had always been operated the following way: two buckets installed on the trampoline, one with the chain, one with the rope. In case of emergency anchoring, the anchor could be dropped like that and hauled back in two steps: the rope first using the left wheel of the windlass followed by the chain using the pignon rack ion the right side of the windlass.

A first quick conclusion here: I will have to buy a new chain of a considerable greater length! A modern boat should have the chain coming in and out of the chain locker, basta! Exit those blue and red buckets on the trampoline!

A quick inspection of the items:

  • The LOFRAN windlass seems to still be in good condition. Of course it requires a bit of maintenance, like a good cleaning inside and outside, a replacement of the oil and a global inspection on the wear of the rotational parts. The cables definitely need to be replaced because of corrosion and overheat damage;
  • The cleat: not sure at this stage if I will put it back there as there is no clear requirement for an additional cleat in this part of the boat. A side effect of this cleat though is the compression of the sandwich layer where it has been installed: 4 holes have been drilled and the items was just attached straight through the sandwich panel by means of 4 bolts/washers/nuts. The lack of a hardened piece between the cleat and the nut lead to a inevitable compression of the foam in between the two layers of fiberglass;
  • The command switch: not sure it still operates but the waterproof plastic cover is broken anyhow so it needs replacement;
  • The deck area under and around the windlass: as clearly visible on the photos, the outer surface and the foam in the sandwich have been reasonably damaged. This area will require a structural and esthetical repair.

The unit itself is indeed in good condition.

On the electrical side of the house, the connection was quite simple: the windlass motor was connected straight to the house battery bank through a 200A ANL fuse. The footswitch was on a separate circuit part of the DC fuse/switch panel. This is a correct setup in connectivity and sizing of the protection. The wiring on the other hand was a different ballgame…

In my future electrical installation I will not change much to the principles of this wiring diagram. As a high Amp consumer, the windlass will be the only item not connected to the general 65A battery protection unit. I plan to keep the 200A ANL fuse and the direct to house battery bank connection. The essential difference will be in the protection logic: my installation will include an Active Battery Management System (ABMS). This device serves a double purpose: it balances the state of charge of each battery cell (4 x 3,2V DC in total) and it keeps an eye on the low and high limits in voltage of these cells. The unit can trigger a disconnect signal in case the voltage is exceeding a set upper limit (to much charge) or a set lower limit (to much discharge). Should the windlass draw to many Amps for a prolonged time, the ABMS will trigger a disconnect signal that will trip the 65A Battery Protect Unit regardless of the fact the latter is not itself experiencing an overcurrent.

Next provisional step: repair the deck surface under and around the position of the windlass. Essentially the holes need to be closed in order to avoid water intrusion, I will work the esthetical aspects later when back in Malaysia for a longer period.

The day before leaving the marina I laminated the surface with one layer of 350gr CSM followed by 4 to 6 layers of 200gr woven roving sheets. The outer surface was as usual coated with waxed gelcoat so the resin underneath could cure correctly. I finished this work late in the evening so was not able to take a decent picture.

In the next post I will start from the windlass area again and describe something that will turn out to have become a real destructive process in the general structural health of the boat. But I will start from the inside of the cabin, underneath the windlass actually. Stay tuned!