Are pow­ered winch han­dles A gim­mick or A god­send? ex­pe­di­tion And Ad­ven­ture sail­ing com­pany ru­bi­con 3 put them to the test off­shore. Bruce Ja­cobs re­ports

Yachting World - - New Gear -

Who hasn’t looked at that soggy luff ten­sion or im­per­fectly trimmed genoa and thought –

‘so be it, that’ll do for now’? Apolo­gies to all the rac­ers out there, but there comes a time in ev­ery cruiser’s day when adding some ex­tra ten­sion to the main hal­yard or sheet­ing in a big sail an­other inch or two be­comes just too much of a slog to make it hap­pen. As one of our older crew mem­bers pointed out, the older you get the ear­lier in the day that mo­ment ar­rives!

The prob­lem is of course ex­ac­er­bated for cou­ples cruis­ing with­out any ad­di­tional help on board. Hoist­ing a main­sail solo is a big ef­fort and whether it’s then reef­ing or trim­ming, it can all quickly be­come fairly off-putting.

The elec­tric winch has long been the solution to this and has been around for many years. While they are no­to­ri­ously power hun­gry, there is un­de­ni­ably some­thing won­der­ful about push­ing a but­ton and watch­ing that big, heavy main­sail head up the mast.

elec­tric winch down­sides

There are in­evitably some sea­man­ship and safety con­cerns as­so­ci­ated with elec­tric as­sis­tance: first and fore­most you do not feel an un­usual load de­vel­op­ing. A sail caught in rig­ging or a line jammed in a block would be felt im­me­di­ately if you were ap­ply­ing the tra­di­tional el­bow grease to the job, but an elec­tric mo­tor hides the is­sue – some­times un­til it’s too late and a se­ri­ous prob­lem has oc­curred.

They are also ex­pen­sive, re­quire con­sid­er­able space be­low decks for the mo­tor and gear­box and, most frus­trat­ingly, are im­mo­bile. Un­less you are aboard a fancy yacht with mul­ti­ple pow­ered winches, it is usu­ally a case of one pow­ered winch and get on with it.

En­ter the elec­tric winch han­dle. These have been around in var­i­ous guises for some years now but could not be de­scribed as main­stream. The launch of the French-de­signed Ewincher, how­ever, piqued my in­ter­est and I de­cided to give the elec­tric winch han­dle mar­ket the ul­ti­mate test. Could I get Rachael Sprot, my co-founder of Ru­bi­con 3 and a dyed in the wool ad­vo­cate of hard work on a boat (of­ten mine) to be per­suaded of their value – or even to want one?

The Ewincher be­ing given a rig­or­ous test in the Nor­we­gian Sea

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