When I bought my first sailboat years ago, a venerable Catalina 22 named Compass Rose, I didn’t know the first hing about winches, aside from the fact that they seemed to be perfectly placedto bruise ankles. Winches are marvels at multiplying your pulling power on lines. But Compass
Rose’s winches hadn’t been used for several years and were so stiff they could
barely be turned, a sure sign they hadn’t been serviced in even longer. It’s worth
noting that a winch in good repair should, when not under load, be easy to turn
by hand with an audible click, click, clicking sound.
Many sailors hesitate to open up their winches for servicing. But there’s really
nothing to be feared inside, just mechanical parts that need cleaning and lubricating.
Gears, Springs, and Pawls, Oh, My!
When it comes to routine maintenance, sailboat winches are often overlooked for fear of what
may be lurking inside. This servicing guide reveals the mysteries within
Most winches, internally, are basically the
same; larger ones are often two-speed
and simply have more gears and bearings inside, but servicing them is still
well within the average do-it-yourselfer’s
range of skills.
Let’s Get Started
Overhauling a winch for the first time
can seem daunting, but if the job is
approached methodically, each one
shouldn’t take more than an hour or so.
Once you’ve done a pair of them, you’ll
wonder why you didn’t tackle the job
DO IT YOURSELF
By Charles Fort
Winches are a vital
part of a sailboat’s
servicing will ensure
they work at their best.