Most sailboats have winches, from snubbing winches to eight man coffee grinders. Some are electrically or hydraulically powered. They run from halyard winches to swing keel winches. Small boats with no winches on board often have a winch mounted on their trailer to assist with hauling the boat. The thing that is common to all these winches is the need for maintenance.Cleaning and lubricating winches is absolutely essential. To determine the time between cleanings requires a look at the many variables harmful to winches. The frequency of use has little to do with the need for maintenance, nor does the loading placed upon the winch. The attitude of the winch on the boat contributes greatly to the need for cleaning. Deck winches, mounted vertically, require more frequent maintenance than those mounted on a mast or below deck.Those in a salt water environment will naturally require more frequent and extensive maintenance than winches that only feel fresh water. Airborne dust is a big troublemaker. The dust gets on the top of the winch and is carried inside when the deck is washed or when it rains. The water flushes right through the winch but the dust gets trapped by that layer of grease that is required for smooth operation. Dirt inside the winch is what causes them to wear and parts to fail. The dust, dirt and salt can also plug the drains in the winch and then comes potential freeze damage. Improper bedding or improper orientation of a deck winch can inadvertently affect the winch drainage.
The answer to all these problems lies in getting the winch thoroughly cleaned and properly lubricated. Then keep the dirt out. Putting a cover on a winch for the great percentage of its life while it is not in use is strongly recommended. There are winch covers available that do a great job. These covers go over the winch and are held in place with sewn-in shock cord. They are available in just about any color if you want to coordinate the appearance of the boat. Just about anything is far better than nothing. Beach pails are available in many sizes and will do a great job, if you can keep them in place when the wind blows.
Mail (will not be published) (required)