There is a lot of talk about easy sailing, but have you ever tried to caulk the sheet of a genoa on a cruising boat in 20 knots? Or hoisting the mainsail without anyone’s help when sailing with a small or inexperienced crew? Believe us, you’ll get a fair amount of “work.” If you are young and able-bodied there is no problem, but when the years begin to take their toll, or if you are sailing with an inexperienced and familiar crew, you would gladly do without all these labors.
If you don’t have room below deck to house an electric winch motor, a good compromise for “automating” your manual winches is electric winch handles. Their advantage is that one handle can work on more than one winch and does not normally draw power directly from the shipboard battery.You can easily manage the sheets and halyards of mainsail, genoa, and gennaker, use them to tension topsails and mooring lines, hoist the tender on board, and more. We have selected for you three models currently on the market.
Winches: the best handles for you
The first electric handle is the Winchrite: weighs three kilos, is IP 66 waterproof its dimensions are 37x17x7 cm and incorporates an ABT brushless motor (18.5 A x 21.6V = 400 W): unlike a brush motor, it does not need creeping electrical contacts (brushes) on the rotor shaft to operate: this means less mechanical resistance, zero sparks, and zero maintenance. At its maximum torque moment, it expresses a force of 130 Newtons/meter (which is roughly equivalent to applying 50 kg of effort on a standard handle 25 cm long), enough to easily caulk and hoist sails, whatever the conditions.
Operation is two-speed, with the motor speed selected by a rocker switch under the handle that is easy to find with your fingers. The unit is equipped with a lithium-ion battery and comes with a 100-240 volt 1.8 Ah charger (charging time 1-2 hours), two couplers to adapt the handle to any winch plus a carrying bag and a base plate that can be placed in the cockpit to always have it handy. There is also a 12V plug for trickle charging. It costs 769.95 euros and YOU CAN FIND IT HERE.
Comes from France Ewincher, more compact and “technological”: it weighs 2.2 kg (dimensions: 28.8×35.5×6.6 cm), is easy to use even when the boat is tilted, and can withstand rough sea conditions because it is IPX6 certified. Its brushless motor develops torque up to 80 N m (or 32kg of pull on the handle). Its progressive and adjustable rotation speed from 0 to 80 rpm allows, depending on the maneuver and conditions, both to make fine adjustments and to quickly recover the sheet.
It can operate in three modes: in “assisted” mode Ewincher is the classic two-speed electric handle; in manual mode you use Ewincher as a classic handle; and finally there is the possibility to combine the two functions, electric and manual, to increase the pulling speed. To avoid any risk of damage to the boat or injury to the crew, Ewincher can be configured with an application via Bluetooth that allows you to define the maximum torque to be exerted.It comes with a lithium battery (25.2 V), charger, converter, cockpit pocket and its case. It costs 2,499 euros and YOU CAN FIND IT HERE.
Winches – other solutions
Like the Winchrite, the Modea electric handle (weight: 3.7 kg, waterproof IP67) also has a maximum torque of 130 Newtons/meter, but unlike the models mentioned above this one provides continuous power. You won’t have to worry about the engine battery, because Modea thanks to the included flexible and waterproof cable connects directly to the on-board battery pack.
Energy on board being the main concern of boaters, the handle was designed with a low-power motor (380W). The large reduction via worm screw that gives an output speed of 70 rpm allows for significant torque for a consumption of 13.5 A/h at 12 volts or 6.5 A/h at 24 volts. The two directions of crank rotation mean that you can operate your winches at 2 or 3 speeds. According to the manufacturers, the crank is also fine for hoisting a person to the masthead (we, for safety reasons, always recommend doing it by hand, on medium-sized boats). Prices start at 1990 euros and YOU CAN FIND IT HERE.