Anchor windlass

An anchor windlass within the forecastle on the main deck of the sailing ship Balclutha. The vertical shaft is rotated by a portion of the capstanabove

The combined port anchor windlass and winch of a modern jumbo ferry (Stena Britannica). The hydraulically operated brake and pawl allows the anchor to be dropped from the ship's bridge.

A "windlass" is a machine used on ships that is used to let-out and heave-up equipment such as for example a ship's anchor or a fishing trawl. An anchor windlass is a machine that restrains and manipulates the anchor chain and/orrope on a boat, allowing the anchor to be raised and lowered. A notched wheel engages the links of the chain or the rope. A "trawl windlass" is a similar machine that restrains or manipulates the trawl on a commercial fishing vessel. The trawl is a sort of big fishing net that is winded on the windlass. The fishermen either let-out the trawl or heaves-up the trawl during fishing operations. A brake is provided for control and a windlass is usually powered by an electric or hydraulic motor operating via a gear train.

Horizontal vs Vertical
Technically speaking, the term "windlass" refers only to horizontal winches. Vertical designs are correctly called capstans. Horizontal windlasses make use of an integral gearbox and motor assembly, all typically located above-deck, with a horizontal shaft through the unit and wheels for chain and/or rope on either side. Vertical capstans use a vertical shaft, with the motor and gearbox situated below the winch unit (usually below decks). Horizontal windlasses offer several advantages. The unit tends to be more self contained, protecting the machinery from the corrosive environment found on boats. The dual wheels also allow two anchors on double rollers to be serviced. Vertical capstans, for their part, allow the machinery to be placed

over the Windlass gypsy (US Wildcat) down through the "Spurling pipe" to the Chain/Cable Locker under the forecastle (or poop if at the stern (US Fantail)) . although particular care must be taken with sizing and compatibility of line. and the windlass or capstan was powered by many sailors below decks. In these cases they are frequently coupled with Warping Drums (as distinct .below decks. Even a small difference in link size or consistency can cause undue wear on the chainwheel and/or cause the chain to jump off the windlass when the winch is operating. Nowadays. and also allow a flexible angle of pull (which means rope or chain can be run out to different fairleads). On small craft a warping drum is sometimes used to handle both chain & rope. a runaway condition sometimes referred to as "water spouting" should it occur at high speed. This would occur if the Windlass brake has slipped in a storm for example and you have reached "the bitter end". through the pawl.the Anchor bitts are on a bulkhead in the Cable locker and the bitter end of the cable is connected to the bitts using the bitter pin.e. the link pitch) closely. while the chain handling wheel is variously referred to as the gypsy (in the UK) or wildcat (in North America). for this feature to work effectively. [edit]The Links from Bitter to Anchor The Anchor is shackled to the Anchor Cable (US Anchor Chain). although this is by no means a hard and fast rule. and larger boats have windlasses. [edit]Gypsies and Wildcats The wheels on either a vertical or horizontal windlass provide for either chain or line to be engaged. thus lowering the centre of gravity (important on boats). especially on large tankers and cruise ships. and windlass. chain. For clarity in communication the generic term chainwheel is often used. which should be able to be released from outside the locker to "slip" the Anchor. particularly during payout. It tends to be the case that smaller boats use capstans. Despite what you may read this is the true origin of the term "to the bitter end". the cable passes up through the Hawse pipe. It originally applied in sailing vessels where the cable was a rope. It is important that the chainwheel match the chain size (i. the windlass may be split into independent Port & Starboard units. The wheel for line is termed a warping head.

This task should be within the windlass' rated working pull. but hydraulics prove more efficient and powerful on all but small boats. many are manually driven in the same manner as most sailing boats' winches for sheets. usually attached at the base of the anchor windlass. the turnbuckles can be adjusted to evenly distribute the load. It consists of a turnbuckle. A devil's claw cannot be released while it is under tension. the tension must first be taken up by the windlass brake. Electrics are convenient and relatively cheap. [edit]Devil's claw Securing a devil's claw on a large anchor chain The devil's claw is a device that is used as a chain stopper to grab and hold an anchor chain. hydraulics. If more than one stopper is used. In some of these the warping drums are of the self tensioning or constant tension type. and electrics. In general. and a metal hook with two curved fingers that grab one link of a chain. windlasses and their power system should be capable of lifting the anchor and all its rode (chain and rope) if deployed so that it hangs suspended in deep water. Powered solutions include steam (antiquated). and ships in the old days have always required manual power. To release it. Then the turnbuckle can be loosened and removed . [edit]Power While most windlasses require power. A devil's claw is often used on merchant ships because it is lighter and easier to manage than other types of chain stoppers. the claw is placed on a chain link and the turnbuckle is tightened to take up the tension on the chain.from Warping Heads). not its maximum pull. In fact only modern boats have practical sources for power. such as a pelican hook. After hoisting the anchor and setting the windlass brake.

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