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Season preparation and boat care – winches and fittings


Inconspicuous, but indispensable. The fittings on the deck of our sailing yachts ensure that everything works on the go – setting sails, recovering, reefing, turning, and so on.

At the beginning of the season, we should make sure that the fittings are functional, otherwise, as I said, the whole boat will no longer work. The good news here is that most fittings today are virtually maintenance-free and you have to keep an eye on mechanical wear and tear or corrosion.

The winches are an exception. Of course, these are also relatively complex beings with many moving parts that should be serviced regularly. The manufacturers even advise you to take the winches apart several times during the season, clean them from the inside and then re-grease and oil them. Personally, however, I would see that as a maximum requirement. For the common family or cruising yacht, it is usually sufficient if this happens once a year or even less often.

Acoustic warning signs

But of course that also depends on how much you sail and how much the winches are actually used. There is an acoustic warning sign for this: if the normally bright bells when winching becomes dull or can no longer be heard, action must be taken. If it gets too old, the winch grease can harden, which means that it no longer lubricates properly and increases wear and tear.

Disassembly and cleaning of the winches

Securing the small parts

Before you remove the snap ring on the head of the winch drum and take the thing apart, you should keep in mind that some, even small parts work together inside, some of which, like the pawls, have small springs. If you are unlucky or are careless to work, such a part can jump towards you and maybe even jump overboard. This is almost as annoying in the winter storage hall, if not necessarily as final as in the water. As a precautionary measure, a cloth or something similar could be attached to the guard rail next to the winch, so that such parts definitely remain on board.

Cleaning, greasing and oiling

After you have lifted off the drum, you can carefully remove all other parts one after the other and clean everything with a soft cloth and maybe a little benzine. The bearings and gears can then be lubricated with special winch grease before assembly, but the small pawls and springs must never be greased. Then there is the risk that they can no longer move freely, but at some point “stick”, which can actually be dangerous. So always oil these parts, also with a special oil offered by the winch manufacturers – unless Grandma has some sewing machine oil left, then you can use that too. During greasing and oiling, put everything together in reverse order to dismantling, carefully put on the drum – you probably have to turn it slightly so that the pawls can engage – put the snap ring back on and you’re done!

Get the best lubricant for your boat!

Deck fittings & guard rail

Then check all other deck fittings. Above all, check the anchor winch for functionality and take a look from below, even if this is only possible with uncomfortable contortions or with the help of a pocket mirror. Because there, in the humid and salty climate of the anchor locker, things get bogged down particularly well and if you recognize corrosion here early and do something about it, you have already gained another piece.

Check fastenings

Next up might be the guard rail. Check everything for wear here too. Do the supports wobble? Are hairline cracks even forming in the deck at the railing feet (compare our episode about the deck)? Finally, check the split pins and the railing wires and their fastening. Of course, check all the split pins on the püttingen and turnbuckles if the mast is already up or you haven’t managed to do so when rigging.

Blocks, rolls, clamps

Finally, it comes to the hardware for the running goods: blocks, rollers, clamps. Here too: is everything possible? If not, some magic medicine, alias WD40 (or similar product), can help. Attention: Not all plastic rollers, for example in the deflectors for traps and straighteners on deck, are really UV-resistant in the long term. Then small fibers break or crumble at the edge, and you don’t want to have them in the cordage or in your fingers. If this is the case, for better or worse, one or the other role, or the entire fitting, must be replaced and renewed. When the fall stoppers and clamps are all passable (if not: replace!), The season can begin!

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