WINDLASS......Back to gallery

The windlass of a vessel I shipped on years ago was operated by two crewmen swinging off the two long reciprocating handles  operating  pawls that brought in the cable a couple of links at a time. Even in shallow water it took a few hours and a bucket of sweat to haul in only two shackles of cable (180’).

The first time we used it in earnest was on a winter passage from Copenhagen to Kiel. It was a typical delivery job where gear broke if you looked at it. We got caught in a “hundred” year storm, the sails blew out, the booms broke free and smashed in the bulwarks, so we ran for cover in a fiord leading to the Storstrøm between the islands of Fynn and Zealand. Nosing through the blizzard to find a space to anchor it appeared that half the coasters of the Baltic had the same plan. The news later reported a hundred and fifty vessels lost or sunk. Eventually we found a spot, strangely clear of all other vessels, and let the anchor cable out to the bitter end.

A couple of days later after the storm had done its worst we tried to break the anchor free. We yanked and sweated and motored around in circles but we couldn’t get that anchor up. The coastguard had been watching our antics and rumbled us pretty quick. Apparently, unlike the locals that could read the Danish charts, we had picked up the submarine telephone cable that carried the “hotline” between Washington and Moscow. We were instructed to cut the cable as avoiding World War Three was a higher priority than an old scow loosing its gear.

I was quite relieved. Few good things came out of the cold war, but not having to wind in that cable link by link was one of them.

 


More stories of the voyages of the “Nora Dane”


More photos of the “Nora Dane”

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Courtesy of Basil Greenhill the Merchant Schooners

  Galleas “Nora” - Copenhagen 1968
 
LOWER
STOP
LIFT
DIRECTION
UP & DOWN
FINISHED
 
The steps to lowering the anchor with a modern windlass.
 
Step 1: Brief the crew
Clear communication between the Master/supervising officer and the crew are required in anchoring procedures. While the use of hand held radio is used in vessels so equipped, non verbal hand signals for commands and acknowledgements must be agreed for alternative use/backup. Hand signals are not effective if eye contact between parties is not maintained.
Step 2: Clear away

a. Check the windlass pump’s hydraulic oil level in the supply tank, start the pump, check for leaks.
b. Engage the dog clutch for the chain gipsy. (may require the dog clutch lever to be rocked between raise/lower positions to engage/disengage)

c. Slowly release the gypsy’s brake and wind in the chain cable to take the weight off the devil’s claw or stopper.
d. Re-apply the brake and ensure it is holding. Clear away (remove) the devil’s claw or stoppers.

Step 3: Let go
a. Ensure there is nothing in the way of the anchor being dropped, the vessel is stopped or moving slowly astern, and all personnel are clear of the cable or bights in any attached buoyed lines.
b. Dependant on the water depth and /or urgency, the master will determine if the anchor is to be:
i. walked out. (let go under power)
ii. veered out. (let go under partial braking the gypsy)
iii. surged out. (let go freewheeling the gypsy)
Eye protection must be worn as metal scale & rust from the chain will be shed as it passes through the gipsy.
i. Walking out. Ensure the dog clutch is engaged, release the gypsy brake, and operate the windlass pump control to let out the cable.
ii. Veering out. Ensure the dog clutch is disengaged; release the brake slowly allowing the anchor cable gipsy to partially freewheel under control of the brake.
iii. Surging out. Ensure the dog clutch is disengaged; release the brake allowing the anchor cable gipsy to freewheel. Stand clear. This method is not advised in deep water.

Step 4: Make fast

a.When the Master considers sufficient chain has been let out, put the brake on tight, ensure the dog clutch is engaged.
b. Check that the vessel is not dragging its anchor, (by monitoring its relative position with transits).Display anchor day shapes or lights
c. If anchoring for an extended period, re-apply the devils claw or stoppers and switch off the oil supply pump. Maintain an anchor watch.
 
 
The steps to retrieving an anchor.
 
The Master will have to steam the vessel towards the anchor cable, taking the weight off it to facilitate retrieval. From his/her position, the cable cannot be seen. The direction and the elevation of the cable must be communicated continuously by the foredeck crew to the master.
Step 1: Brief the crew
a. As the cable is leading seaward, the direction and elevation hand signals given by crew persons are easily masked (from the master’s viewpoint) behind their bodies. In any event they are not effective if the crew does not maintain eye contact with the supervising officer.
Step 2: Clear away
a. Check the windlass pump’s hydraulic oil level in the supply tank, start the pump, check for leaks.
b. Engage the dog clutch for the chain gipsy.(may require the dog clutch lever to be rocked between raise/lower positions to engage/disengage)
c. Release the gypsy’s brake and wind in the cable to take the weight off the devil’s claw or stopper as may have been fitted.
Step 3: Weigh anchor
a. Continue winding in the cable, as the crew signal the direction and elevation of the cable to the supervising officer.
b. The crew should additionally signal when the cable is standing vertically.
The crew should additionally signal if the vessel runs over the cable.
The crew should additionally signal when the anchor breaks water, the windlass should then be slowed.
Step 4: Clew up
a. Before the anchor is fully drawn up into the hawse pipe it may be convenient to hose off the attached mud while it is still over the side.
b. In pulling tight into the hawse, the windlass should be slowed right down to ensure the flukes are positioned correctly.
c. Once the anchor is housed, put the brake on, attach the devil’s claw or stopper, disengage the dog clutch and turn off the pump.
Ranger Hope © 2008