Imagine that you’re in the sea for an entire day—fishing, diving, or just enjoying some quality time alone. You sail to get home after the long and tiring day. When you reach the port, you press a button to drop your anchor and go back home. No time or more energy wasted to pull down your anchor. It’s possible with the right anchor windlass.
Our team at The Marine Mag has done the research, collected useful facts, and has also prepared some anchor windlass reviews. We want to help you, our readers, on your journey to finding the best products and devices to equip your boat. This post is meant to help you find the best anchor windlass for your vessel.
Best Anchor Windlass Comparison Chart
Lewmar Vertical Windlasses
|View On Amazon|
Lewmar Windlass – Anchr ProSport
|View On Amazon|
|View On Amazon|
Five Oceans Horizontal Anchor Windlass
|View On Amazon|
Five Oceans Vertical Anchor Windlass
|View On Amazon|
Best Anchor Windlass (Top Picks)
The following reviews are not in a particular order. Check them out and see for yourself the pros and cons of these top-selling anchor windlasses.
1. Lewmar Vertical Windlasses
This Lewmar product is among the best sellers available on the market because of its deck unit, which is 100% made of stainless steel. Moreover, it has an IP rated housing, and it can fit calibrated chains. Another benefit is that Lewmar provides a 5-year warranty for this item.
You can use this product with boats which are up to 35 feet long. The windlass is equipped with a breaker, a rocker switch, a control arm, a clutch wretch, a dual-direction solenoid, an under mounting plate, a mounting gasket, and a cutout template.
In addition to this, if you cannot afford to give the whole amount of money to pay for this product, leasing can be arranged. Doing so, you will provide smaller quantities of money every month for half a year, and this won’t increase the initial price. If you want to benefit from this opportunity, the only requirement is to be approved for an Amazon store card.
- Thanks to this windlass, anchoring is already an easy task.
- Everything necessary for its installation is included.
- Lewmar offers a 5-year warranty.
- The unit of this windlass is made of stainless steel, which is considered to be a durable material.
- This item doesn’t come with foot controls.
2. Lewmar Windlass – Anchr ProSport
Its dual-direction power operation makes this windlass one of the top products offered on the market. One of its definite benefits is that it can be installed above the deck for more convenience.
Despite its price, this windlass is actually a budget-friendly option because it consumes a small amount of energy. Since the manufacturers are aware that you may not have all the money to pay the product upon purchase, they offer you the opportunity to make equal monthly payments for six months with 0% interest. The only condition to be able to do this is to get an Amazon store card.
Keep in mind that this windlass is suitable for boats that are up to 40 feet long, and its maximum pulling power is 550 lbs. Another advantage of this product is that it comes with everything necessary for its installation – a base gasket, fast mounting studs, an installation wretch, a toggle switch, and a circuit breaker.
- Since this windlass features low power consumption, it is a budget-friendly option.
- For your convenience, you can install this item above the deck.
- A dual-direction power operation characterizes this product.
- Everything needed for installing this windlass comes with it.
- This item doesn’t feature a free-fall, which you can remotely control. In other words, it can be manually operated to free fall.
3. Maxwell Windlass
All the features of this windlass prove that it is worth the price. First of all, it is fully automatic. Moreover, its maximum pulling power is 1320 lbs, which is more than twice what similar products can offer. Its chainwheel can be adjusted to a variety of chain pitch differences.
Another benefit of this product is that its installation is very easy as the item consists only of two parts. Thanks to its special spacer tube, this windlass can be installed through any deck thickness. If you need to disassemble the unit, you can easily do this by using the handle, screwdriver and Allen key provided with the item. This windlass has proven long term durability because of the fact that it is made of stainless steel. You can operate this tool manually if you want it to free fall.
- Thanks to the clear instructions, the installation of this product are very easy.
- The maximum pulling power of this tool is twice one of the similar products.
- You can be sure that this item is going to last for a long time as it is made of durable stainless steel.
- Disassembling the unit is also not a challenge, as you have all the necessary tools for it provided.
- You have to purchase the rope and chain separately, which will add to the initial cost of the product.
4. Five Oceans Horizontal Anchor Windlass
Thanks to its pretty powerful 600W motor, this windlass can reach a maximum pulling power of 1200 lbs and a maximum line speed of 115 feet per minute. You can use this item with a range of rope types, namely three-strands, double – braided and eight-plate ones.
Another advantage of this product is that it is very durable as it is made of stainless steel. This windlass is suitable for boats that are up to 35 feet long. Everything needed for the installation of this item comes with it – a circuit breaker, a solenoid, a rocker switch, and a deck footswitch. Receiving all these tools in the package of the windlass, you will save a lot of money.
Keep in mind that with the horizontal units, the whole windlass remains above the deck. If you follow the given instructions and template, the installation of this unit should take you about an hour.
- This item features a very powerful 600W motor.
- You can use this windlass with three-strands, eight-plate and double-braided ropes.
- The durability of the item is ensured by the fact that it is made of stainless steel.
- Everything needed for the installation of this windlass comes with it.
- This product doesn’t feature a free fall. However, it drops and retrieves very fast.
5. Five Oceans Vertical Anchor Windlass
Everything that you need for the installation of this windlass comes with it – a circuit breaker, a solenoid, a deck footswitch, and a rocket switch. This product is equipped with a very powerful 900W motor, which makes this item one of the most effective windlasses available on the market.
Thanks to this motor, the Five Oceans product can provide a maximum pulling power of 1450 pounds, and a maximum line speed of 131feet per minute. You can use this windlass with double-braided, eight-plate, and three-strands ropes. Keep in mind that this item is suitable for boats that are up to 35 feet long.
Like most of the other similar products, this one is also made of stainless steel, which ensures that it is sturdy and durable. Unlike other windlasses, this one has a free-fall feature, and it comes with a helm switch. For your convenience, this windlass comes with a ready mounting template.
- This windlass has a very powerful motor – a 900W one.
- Thanks to the stainless steel it is made of, this product is very durable.
- The Five Oceans windlass features a free-fall mechanism.
- All you need for the installation of this item comes with it.
Horizontal or Vertical Windlass
These are the two basic types that differ by their drive shaft position. However, which one is suitable for your boat depends on several factors. Two of the most important ones are the thickness of the deck and the underdeck space.
- Horizontal windlasses are the ones that stay above the deck only. These are suitable for smaller boats, even though they take up more space on deck. These windlasses provide a 90-degree wrap of the locker. Such devices require a minimum of 12 inches fall in order to stack the anchor rode adequately.
- Vertical devices are positioned both on top and below the deck. These provide a 180-degree wrap of the anchor rode and are more stable than horizontal ones. Such windlasses are suitable for larger boats that allow for a fall of a minimum of 18 inches.
To know which one is suitable for your boat, measure the distance from the top anchor locker to the top anchor rode. The result is the ‘fall’ which your boat allows. Based on the number, you can choose which the right type is for you.
If you go with a horizontal windlass, you shouldn’t have a problem with its installation. The only thing you need to do is drill holes onto your boat so that you can position and bolt it down. On the other hand, if you have to install a vertical one, you will need to make a large enough hole to insert the windlass below the deck.
Furthermore, it also matters whether your device is manual or electric. For the latter, you have to figure out and install the wiring. If you’re not sure of your capabilities, because electrical windlass installation is complicated, you can always hire a professional to do the job.
Types of Anchor Windlasses
Based on your boat type and size and your budget, you can choose one of three anchor windlasses types:
- Manual devices are the simplest and most affordable ones. As the name suggests, these do not require any wiring or plumbing. These are the most useful for small boats that don’t have much battery power. Using such a device makes anchoring by hand easier than without a windlass. These devices are available with two types – one uses a back and forth motion, and the other a circular one.
- Hydraulic windlasses are the most complicated to install. However, they offer unlimited power, and you don’t have to worry about draining your batteries. They require a hydraulic system within the vessel to power them. These are incredibly efficient and are often used on large yachts and boats.
- Electric windlasses are relatively compact. They are powered by the vessel’s existing electrical system. These devices are probably the most powerful ones, a range of boat types and sizes. Electric windlasses have excellent lifting power, and using one makes anchoring effortless and straightforward. All you do is press a button. However, this type only works when there’s power on the boat. To avoid awkward and unpleasant situations, you may need to install a dedicated battery for the windlass.
How to Choose an Anchor Windlass
There isn’t a single type, model, or brand of windlass that makes it the best. What is the best one for one boat isn’t the best for another. So, to choose the right device for your vessel, you should keep an eye out for the following characteristics.
This is the performance of the windlass and is the most crucial factor when choosing a device. To calculate the windlass’ pulling power that will be enough for your boat and anchor, you should:
- Combine the weight of the anchor and its chain or rope. The result is the ground tackle.
- Then, multiply that number three times, and you will receive the maximum strength your windlass must-have.
The calculations are measured in pounds. For example, if your anchor weighs 66 lbs, the chain and rope weigh 126 lbs, the ground tackle is 192 lbs. Multiplying this number by three, and you need a windlass with maximum pull power of 576 lbs.
The second thing to keep in mind is the gypsy. It may be small, but it’s an essential part of the windlass that does an important job. The gypsy is the rotating part of the device, usually designed for the exact size of the chain. So, take a look at each product’s gypsy specifications because your rod type may not be a match. Even though some models may have automatic handling of a rope-chain rode, not all do. However, most products are suitable for a variety of gypsies.
It is vital to match the windlass to the gypsy, and then to the anchor rode because otherwise, you’re risking one of the three to wear out fast.
Anchor Rod Type
This is the other important factor to consider before choosing a windlass. As you may or may not know, there are three types of anchor rods:
- A rope is the most affordable option and is commonly used on small boats only. It is only natural because the rope isn’t as sturdy as a chain, or a combination of both. This type may be more suitable for manual windlasses, which are also for smaller vessels.
- Chain only is perfect for large vessels. Naturally, it is more durable and more expensive. It also makes the anchor heavier, and you need a powerful and sturdy windlass to pull their combined weight.
- Chain and rope is probably the most popular type since it allows for more length. Plus, this type is very powerful at holding the anchor and pulling it. However, there are some ups and downs to this type of anchor rod. You should take a look at our guide on getting the top anchor ropes and chains for more detailed information. Furthermore, you should maintain your chain and rope combo because it may chafe.
Using an anchor windlass isn’t a joke and should be handled with care and diligence. So, we have some safety tips for you.
- Use chain stoppers and chain snubbers. They prevent accidental self-launching of the anchor, which also keeps your windlass safe.
- If such isn’t available, you should make sure that when your anchor is up, and the windlass is not in use, the rope rode is attached to a load-bearing point. That is also a way to prevent the anchor from unexpectedly deploying.
- For electrical devices, always shut off the circuit breaker when you are working on your windlass and when you’re not using it.
- Make sure to tie the rode to a strong point when you’re at anchor.
Common Problems with Anchor Windlasses
These aren’t meant to be considered as disadvantages. We simply want to include all sides of these devices, and the common problems you may encounter using them shouldn’t be left out.
- Sometimes hydraulic windlasses may have a problem with cable wires, which cause a motor failure when you’re trying to weigh down the anchor.
- Bad weather and sea conditions may cause problems for the windlass. That is, flying debris can injure the device. Also, make sure the anchor is retracted or down completely when the sea conditions begin to worsen.
- Another common problem is that chrome windlasses flake off the upper friction of the gypsy. Then, the chain or rope start slipping and are hard to deploy or retract.
- After you replace the windlass, the chain or rope may begin jamming in the new gypsy.
Commonly Asked Questions
Is a Chain Stopper Necessary?
It is good to have one regardless of the type or model of your windlass. Some may not require a chain stopper, if they are powerful enough or if you’re using a strong point to tie your anchor.
Do I Need Any Other Accessories?
It depends on your situation, vessel, anchor rode. Aside from the device, you may also need to purchase: chain stopper, circuit breakers, toggle switch, wires, a news anchor rode, etc. However, if your boat has everything ready and you just need the windlass, you won’t have to invest in additional items. What is more, if you are looking for an anchor as well as a windlass, be sure to check our top boat anchor reviews and buying guide, so you can easily pick the right one for your vessel.
We must end our comprehensive guide here. Now that you’ve reached its end, you are more aware of what the best anchor windlass for your boat is. As you see, we at The Marine Mag strive to provide our readers with easy-to-digest information on various marine equipment. We also do our best to deliver up-to-date information, and we also regularly update our anchor windlass reviews.
So, please, if you found our post useful, say a few nice words in the comments below. Also, if you have some questions or any other kind of feedback that you wish to share with us, feel free to do so. We would greatly appreciate it.