Easy winch­ing

Rick Bowen gets a han­dle on it

Practical Boat Owner - - Practical Projects - Vicki-D,

Ihave been sail­ing my cur­rent boat, the Westerly Long­bow for over 20 years around the south coast, the West Coun­try, north­ern France and the Chan­nel Is­lands from Hayling Is­land Sail­ing Club.

I’m most likely to be found sail­ing sin­gle handed, with the spray hood up and, on longer trips, with my trusty Au­to­helm 2000 steer­ing us through the waves and spray and me keep­ing a good look­out in the cock­pit.

With the spray hood up I have found that when winch­ing the genoa the han­dle is lim­ited to about 100° move­ment as the hood re­stricts the full use of the geared Lew­mar winch.

Ungeared and us­ing a stan­dard Lew­mar han­dle, the load on the genoa sheet is very heavy and when geared the amount gained each time is min­i­mal. This is es­pe­cially dif­fi­cult when close-hauled as the winches aren’t self-tail­ing, though the use of Winch­ers makes it a lit­tle eas­ier when sail­ing sin­gle handed.

So I searched on­line for a suit­able com­mer­cially-made han­dle that would help – but to no avail. I even toyed with the use of a bat­tery-op­er­ated drill, but they were all too heavy and cum­ber­some.

As the arthri­tis in my hands has be­come more ad­vanced and painful over the years I had won­dered about how I could make it eas­ier with­out the huge ex­pense of in­stalling pow­ered winches.

A few months ago I was help­ing my son with some ad­just­ments to his clas­sic Mini us­ing my en­gi­neer­ing socket set when I re­alised that I could mod­ify a ratchet socket wrench to op­er­ate the winches on the boat.

A new long han­dled, ½in ratchet wrench from Hal­fords (£25) was glued and fit­ted to a turned down and drilled out 300mm hard­wood rolling pin (£1.50 from Wilkin­sons) and sev­eral coats of var­nish were ap­plied. A match­ing star drive bit (£10 from a boat jumble) that fit­ted in the top of the winch was mated with a suit­able socket and locked in place with a stain­less steel nut and bolt.

Un­der sail I can now winch the genoa in tight with the new han­dle and with a flick of the thumb can change the gear­ing, op­er­at­ing within the 100° of an­gle I have to work in. After a long beat up the So­lent or a chan­nel cross­ing my hands are rel­a­tively pain free and my sail trim is much more sea­man­like.

Winch han­dle ex­ten­sion bar works a treat

Star drive bit was bolted to a socket and ratchet han­dle

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