Lewmar self tailing winch

Choice of equipment and installation: The Lewmar 14ST Chrome self tailing winch was recommended by Matt as part of the system for raising and lowering the mast while afloat. It was installed by Swallow Boats on the starboard side of the companionway hatch, aft of the clutch for the jib halyard.

In Use: It is incredibly useful. For lowering and raising the mast the self tailing capability is vital since I am supporting/lifting the mast with my left hand while I winch with my right hand. For other purposes I use it as a standard winch: raising the rudder (I’m too weak to pull it up!), bringing down the asymmetric single handed (a couple of turns round it provides control in letting out the tack line and then the halyard), getting tension in the jib luff.

Note from 2014*: I had asked Matt if the main halyard could also be on the starboard side so it would lead to the winch but he didn’t want both halyards under tension on the same side of the mast. However I find I can lead the main halyard at right angles out of its port side clutch and onto the winch. Hardly good practice, however the force is only that needed to raise the main sail the last foot or so and to tension the luff. In retrospect I wish I’d had a second, non-self tailing winch installed on the port side. To do it now would mean moving the clutches forward and the all wood part of the wheel house top only extends a little way before it becomes foam sandwich and therefore weaker so I’ll probably manage with the present setup.

*Note added 2017: I later realised that the main halyard could be led away from the mast foot across the cabin top so that it goes to a clutch on the starboard side. That means I can now tension the main halyard using the winch. On the other hand, use of silicon lubricant in the mast track has made hoisting the main much easier. I have also now discovered the technique for pulling the rudder up without using the winch!

N.B. : The opinions expressed are my own after a relatively short period of use; there may be ways around any problems identified. Other users will have different priorities!