Smoking Windlass

Bob Foster of Sarasota, Florida, asks:"Last week, while my wife and I were cruising, our windlass motor suddenly stopped when I began to pull up the anchor. At almost the same moment, my wife shouted that she saw smoke coming from underneath the nav station. When we got home our local marine electronics technician told me that some of my electronic gear had been damaged as
Author:
Publish date:
Updated on
SWindlassPhoto1

Bob Foster of Sarasota, Florida, asks:

"Last week, while my wife and I were cruising, our windlass motor suddenly stopped when I began to pull up the anchor. At almost the same moment, my wife shouted that she saw smoke coming from underneath the nav station. When we got home our local marine electronics technician told me that some of my electronic gear had been damaged as well. What happened, and how can I avoid a repeat performance?"

Gordon West replies:

It sounds as though you have a poor negative battery lead connection on the windlass circuit. When the windlass was working hard to break the hook free (which is not a good way to use the windlass, but that’s another story) resistance in the negative lead caused current to be pulled through the boat’s ground system, which is joined to the battery’s negative side.

Whenever you pull current through a ground system, there’s a chance it will travel up the negative lead of any electronics equipment sharing a common ground connection. Some marine electronics have fuses that prevents a damaging current from burning up the smaller black ground wire for this very reason. I would guess that your windlass’s black wire is badly corroded. I suspect you also probably saw some melted black wires in your electronics package. If you replace these wires properly (I suggest having a professional do the rewiring), your electronics should work correctly again. Your electrician should also look at the existing wiring for the windlass. Presumably he can rewire the unit so all the current needed to power the motor flows along the red and black wires, and not through the common ground connection.

Related

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell. Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com The double range  Every skipper knows about ranging two objects in line to keep the boat on track in a cross-current. What’s less obvious is monitoring both sides of a gap such as a harbor entrance. ...read more

FamilyCruise

Bareboating on Puget Sound

Depending on where you are, Puget Sound can look no bigger than a mountainous version of the Intracoastal Waterway. That’s what I thought when I first laid eyes on it from the lighthouse at Mukilteo Park on a sunny day last July. Then I went to the top of the iconic Space Needle ...read more

Bali4point1

Boat Review: Bali 4.1

Coming fast on the heels of its predecessor, the Bali 4.0, the Bali 4.1 adds a number of improvements, many of them inspired by feedback from owners and charterers. She’s an evolution of a concept that has already proven popular and very many benefits from its builder’s ...read more

Headsail

Ask Sail: Silencing A Rattling Headsail

Q: Our Pearson 26 has a 110-percent jib that tends to rattle very noisily at the top hank. We only bought the old boat recently, but it must have been happening for a long time, since there’s a deep groove worn inside that bronze hank. The jib has an unusually large and wide ...read more

Alerion2048x

Alerion Yachts 33, the 90 Minute Get Away

Easy to sail, luxurious, and swift; the Alerion 33 is the solution to your busy life. The intuitive, simple rig design, easy set-up, and put-away mean there’s no need to wait for crew to enjoy a weekend, a day, or an hour out sailing. Her beauty and comfort are evident in the ...read more

anchor

Know how: Ground Tackle

Your ground tackle is like a relationship—the more you care for it, the longer it will last. So, how do you enhance the relationship? First up, think of the accommodations—a damp, salt-rich, often warm environment, just the kind of thing to encourage corrosion. What can be done? ...read more

DSC_7522

Boat Review: Beneteau Oceanis 46.1

The Beneteau sailboat line has long represented a kind of continuum, both in terms of the many models the company is offering at any given moment and over time. This does not, however, in any way diminish the quality of its individual boats. Just the opposite. Case in point: the ...read more