Being out on the open water or even safely nestled in the marina is an opportunity to escape the business of daily life whilst taking advantage of the natural resources found in our waterways.
Nautical vessels facilitate both relaxing lifestyles and a number of lucrative commercial industries, where pleasure cruises and fishing boats alike are a constant presence along our rivers and coastlines. Boats supply a whole host of benefits to their owners, where the salty sea or fresh river is a source of income and a home away from home for many.
But owning and maintaining a boat does bring with it a number of material concerns that have to be managed. Manoeuvring your boat from the shipyard to the water can be costly, whilst lowering it into place and securing it in the dock must be done safely to protect your vessel. Once onboard, operating fishing lines and weighty sails provides an extra nautical challenge, whether the boat is used for business or pleasure.
All of these tasks are made easier with the help of a trusty winch, where this essential piece of boating equipment comes in a number of different forms to deal with an array of nautical challenges.
Read on for a complete guide to choosing a winch product for your boat, with a look at the hiring options on offer from Atlas Winch & Hoist Services.
Broadly speaking, a winch is a hauling or lifting device that can have a number of different applications across a variety of industries. A winch usually consists of a durable rope or chain which winds around a rotating drum, and is then turned by a crank or motor. These can be operated through hydraulics, electricity or by hand.
Such equipment is extremely useful from a nautical perspective, where boats are heavy and difficult to manage when on land. Large sailing boats also feature heavy sails and onboard machinery that can also be made easier to handle through winch applications.
In order to choose a winch to manoeuvre your boat, you need to judge your selection by your boat’s gross weight, rather than by its length. This will then allow you to choose a winch with an appropriate lifting capacity so that your vessel can be hauled safely and securely.
As a general rule, your winch capacity should be the equivalent of around ¾ of your boat’s total weight. This can vary according to your precise set-up – a stronger winch will be required if you have to move your boat across steep terrain, whilst a smaller winch will be suitable if you’re equipped with gently sloping ramps or rollers.
There are several different types of boating winch available if you are looking to fully equip your nautical vessel. These include:
A sailboat winch is a drum-shaped mechanism which is employed to manage a variety of nautical equipment, including halyards, sheets and control lines, where deckhands receive specialist training to ensure they are skilled to manage these sailing implements.
A trailer boat winch makes it possible for a boat owner to pull their vessel into a trailer from a launching ramp. The winch is usually mounted on a specialised stand or holder, which makes the loading and unloading process easier.
A mooring winch is designed to fix the vessel’s mooring lines to the dock, where there should be adjustments provided to compensate for tidal movements. These winches are usually found on the deck of the boat, and they can be manually or electrically powered depending on the size of the vessel.
A fairlead is a piece of equipment which works alongside various kinds of boating winch. The main use of a fairlead is to prevent the winch line from becoming damaged or frayed during use, which can lead to a dangerous breakage. Fairleads are usually positioned in front of the winch, where it can work to preserve the winch line’s overall lifespan.
The two types of fairlead that are generally used on boats are roller and fixed variations. The roller fairlead usually has four rollers in total, whilst the fixed version doesn’t have any moving parts.
A swivel head fairlead is a more heavy-duty piece of equipment, which is usually employed to ensure safe anchor usage. Its main purpose is to guide wire ropes or anchor chains in and out of the vessel to help prevent line damage and breakages.
A winch roller is a variation on the fairlead, where it exclusively uses rollers to provide directioning for the boat’s ropes and cables.
A sailboat capstan, also known as a sailboat winch, uses a slightly different mechanism than the various winches described above. A capstan is a rotating piece of equipment which was originally designed to increase the collective hauling power of crew members.
Capstans and winches are both useful pulling mechanisms, but they do operate differently. A winch features a drum around which a cable is wound, whilst a capstan assists in rope pulling whilst not actually relying on rolling wires or cables around a drum unit.
A boat hoist, or travel lift, is a type of hydraulic crane mechanism utilised for moving boats out of rivers and waterways, where they can then be transported across docks and marinas for on-land storage. These hoists can also keep your boat resting just above the water when not in use, which can limit water and storm damage whilst you are away from your vessel.
Most commercial fishing boats will enlist the help of some form of winch or hoist to assist in pulling in large nets or for catching supersized fish species. Fishing line spoolers helps fishermen to quickly respool casting reels without tangling, whilst a hydraulic line hauler is a useful tool for pulling nets in from deep water.
Waterways can be both beautiful and dangerous, where changing weather conditions make for a tempermental hub for both work and play. This risk is only exacerbated by the implementation of heavy-duty machinery, where you can help to keep yourself safe by:
- Maintaining a firm grip on your winch handle, where a sudden release can cause uncontrollable and dangerous spinning of the winch cables
- Wearing safety clothing such as proper eyewear and thick gloves to keep yourself protected at all times
- Keeping a sensible distance between yourself and the winch if possible, where a space twice the length of the cable is recommended
It can be tempting to splash out on your very own winch equipment, whether for your commercial vessel or private boat. But there are several advantages to hiring your winch supplies instead, which can include:
On-site training – where most winch hire sites will talk your team through safe operational practices before the equipment is used, resulting in greater operating efficiency throughout
Winch operators – if you prefer, you can also hire a professional to operate your equipment for you, which will help you to get the job done quicker and with less risk of injury
Regular maintenance checks – hired equipment will be maintained and cleaned on your behalf, saving you money and hassle
Storage requirements – your hiring service will ensure that all your equipment is stored correctly, which also cuts down on your costs
At Atlas Winch & Hoist Services, we have a comprehensive variety of boating machinery and hoisting equipment available to hire, including electric winches and deck supplies. We also have a broad range of mooring equipment on offer such as anchors, buoys and pennant wires.
In addition to our boating winch range, we also supply a broad array of lifting equipment for land based projects, where you can hire one of our air winches or hydraulic power units for a range of purposes.
Contact us directly today to find out more about our complete product range and affordable winch hire services.