Windlass and Manual Anchoring

Bringing up the anchor can be heavy and grueling. It can also be dangerous when the bow or foredeck is pitching or slippery.

A mechanical windlass is a type of winch that eliminates the manual effort.  It takes strain off your back and hands while you hoist the anchor safely.


When using a manual windlass, you most commonly rock the handle in a forward and backward motion cranking the anchor chain upward.


Electrical motored windlasses make the work much easier and you use very little effort.


A hydraulic windlass is most commonly found on large vessels that are built with a proper integral hydraulic system.

A vertical and horizontal windlass are the two basic types.

The vertical drive shaft on a vertical windlass the chain gypsy or rope drum is placed above the gearbox and motor that is mounted below the deck.

Horizontal models mount on either side of an on-deck housing that is normally contains the gearbox and the motor. 

So, which do you prefer?

Vertical windlasses use less space, offer effective retrieval and stow the rope and / or chain automatically. More often they offer a better look on contemporary yachts and motor boats.

On the other hand, horizontal windlasses are faster and easier to install and do not take up space in the cabin below.

Using a combination rope and chain or all chain

Using a combination reduces the overall weight and expense. This set up needs to be inspected often and issued maintenance when you see any wear and tear. Lengths should be 50% rope and 50% chain.

All chain anchor lines are most found on long distance and deep-water vessels.


Mounting either type of windlass is normally done on the center line with the chain aligned with the chain gypsy right to the bow roller and straight into the water.