Boating Tips: Windlass Anchoring

Welcome to Boating Tips with MarineMax! In this episode, Captain Nick demonstrates just how easy it is to operate a windlass anchoring system. Ask your questions, make comments, and learn a thing or two about your favorite outdoor activity.

What is a Windlass?

A windlass is a motorized system utilizing a winch and bridle controlled by remote control. With just the push of a button, it enables a user to raise and lower their vessel’s anchor in a steady and controlled fashion.

Anchoring with a Windlass

While these systems are easy to use and very convenient, there is a little more to it than just pushing a button. 

Many windlass anchors come with a mechanical safety mechanism which prevents the anchor from slipping out of the boat in the event of electronic or mechanical failure on the part of the winch - step one to anchoring is disabling the safety. 

Once you are ready to anchor, use your remote to lower the anchor to the desired depth. Next, gently bump the boat into reverse to help the anchor set. When you are in the desired position, flip the safety back on to prevent any possibility of additional line/chain coming off the device. 

Windlass and Bridle

While utilizing a bridle system is not a necessity, it will help your anchor to set better and give you a better hold on the bottom. The reason for this is that it changes the angle of which your anchor and line is sitting which will impact how your boat will sit. 

Retrieving your Anchor

When you are ready to haul up your anchor, first, use your remote to raise the bridle from the bottom (if you are using one) and disconnect it from the anchor chain. 

Continue to use the remote to raise the anchor; sometimes having someone gently drive the boat forward into the direction of the anchor can be helpful during the retrieval process. 

Be sure to watch your anchor and correct any twisting that happens while bringing it up. The idea is to have the plow of your anchor facing downward towards the water. 

In Conclusion

Remember to spray the anchor and chain after each day of boating to prevent corrosion. Consulting with your manufacturer regarding service intervals on the windlass motor system is your best-bet to keeping it working in tip-top-shape. 

These systems can be installed on vessels ranging from center consoles to catamarans and yachts. They make anchoring much easier and practical, especially on larger vessels. 

Don’t have a windlass? If you want to learn more about anchoring the old fashioned way, check out this video where we discuss best practices for deploying and retrieving your anchor. We’ll see you out there. 



You can see or hear more episodes of Boating Tips and our sister podcast, From the Helm Boating Broadcast, on The MarineMax Blog, accessible on the website or via mobile phone through the MarineMax App. You can also access more episodes on Amazon, Spotify, Google Podcast, Apple Podcast, or wherever you get your podcast news. See you out on the water! 

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