cleaning up the manual windlass

On my sail south, I stopped at the Channel Islands because it was a “must see” according to everyone. I’d heard enough about the Santa Ana winds that I was pretty terrified of going, but what is an adventure if you’re not going to at least try to anchor out at an island you may wash ashore on? I hadn’t anchored since a month before my hand injury (so… three years). My anchoring skills were rusty to say the least.

I ended up getting caught in the Santa Ana’s my last day there and yeoup, it was pretty terrifying! As soon as I got to the nearest dock 32 miles away, I kept saying “this stupid windlass doesn’t work!” As people asked why or how, I realized I didn’t know how to use the dang thing. Previously, I just pulled the chain up by hand, but in 50+ knot winds that is simply impossible.



The windlass is a beautiful chunk of bronze that had two coats of different paint over it. I cleaned it up, probably made it worse as I spray painted the rusty innards, and put it back together again with some new grease. I thought it would be along the same lines of painting an engine, but that’s a different type of metal that is better off painted. Apparently, painting stainless that is rusty will make it rust from the inside since it can’t breathe. Oops.

Pretty much all the steel parts had corrosion pits in them, so at some point in the future I will have to find a shop to remake these parts anyways. At first, I was using a wire wheel to remove the coats of paint off the bronze. Someone told me to try paint remover. I did a combination of both, it was very time consuming to get it all off and probably took the most amount of time. I’d switch between getting rust off the inner bits and pieces, and then fighting with the bronze piece, and so on.

I learned this baby has two gears, and how to operate the break (very importante!!!). A nice man on the docks, Peter, was curious how it worked and he helped me get it back together. I also met an Instagram follower and he lent me his sons car to run errands and get stuff from the hardware store! It was a great stop and I am glad events lead me to that marina.






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