The 10 Best Boat Windlasses

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This wiki has been updated 15 times since it was first published in February of 2019. Whether you're an old salt or a seafaring novice, save your back some strain by letting a windlass let out and haul up your boat's anchor. These mechanical crew-members pull heavy weights much faster than any person can, giving you the ability to set off in a jiffy should the winds or your mood shift. Our selections have different ratings suitable for a range of boat sizes. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.

1. Lewmar V3 Go FF

2. Lewmar V700 G

3. Maxwell RC8

Editor's Notes

November 24, 2020:

A windlass is an invaluable piece of kit that allows mariners to drop their anchors quickly, easily, and safely without having to go up on to the foredeck. This is especially useful to the single-handed sailor, who will not be able to control steerage, speed, or direction as soon as they leave the cockpit. Although these windlasses can be installed by most sailors or professional fishermen quite easily, marine electronics can be complicated and so it is advisable to use a certified boatyard or electrician when installing them.

The Five Oceans Pacific 900 was an easy choice in favor of its predecessor, as it offers more power, is more freely available, and will pull up your chain or rode at 70 feet a minute as opposed to the 60 feet that the previous model could. It also comes in at a very similar price to the pacific 600, while maintaining a 1650 pound maximum lift compared to the 600s 850 pounds.

For excellent value and a famous and reliable brand, the Lewmar V700 G was added. Its compact size belies its power, and although the motor sits under the deck, which can reduce space in the forepeak, it sits lower on deck than other models on the list. Aesthetics are important on yachts and this unit is undoubtedly the best looking. It also can handle six or seven metre chains.

Free-fall anchoring systems are important for single-handed sailors who are dropping their ground tackle in busy anchorages, as is so often the case. The Powerwinch Freefall has a switch at the helm, and will drop 300 feet of chain in one minute, ensuring that you can be lying to the wind or tide in minutes without having to leave the cockpit.

May 23, 2019:

While manual windlasses exist -- yes, even in the 21st century -- we did not include any in our list for two reasons. First, they can cost about as much as their electric counterparts and while they make raising and lowering your anchor easier than doing it by hand, it still requires muscle. Second, some electric windlasses, such as the Maxwell RC8, allow you to retrieve your anchor manually if you so wish, though the feature is often described as an "emergency manual lift."

Choosing the right electric windlass for your boat can seem a bit tricky, but to get started, all you need to know is some simple arithmetic. Add up the total weight of your vessel's ground tackle, which is your anchor and rode, and multiply that by four. Whatever windlass you go with should have a maximum pull that matches or exceeds that number.

Another factor to consider is the orientation of the windlass. There are horizontal and vertical models. The horizontal ones, like the Maxwell HRC10, are best suited for boats with more spacious decks and small anchor lockers. The Lewmar V3 Go FF and other vertical units are installed so that most of the machine is hidden below deck, saving space above, and making them ideal for smaller decked boats.

Special Honors

Quick USA GP2 1500 From a well-respected Italian manufacturer, this horizontal windlass is made of quality components, can haul 1,213 pounds and allows for manual free fall.

4. Maxwell HRC10

5. Powerwinch Freefall

6. Lewmar Pro-Fish 700

7. Maxwell Marine HRC FF-8

8. Five Oceans Atlantic 900

9. Maxwell RC6

10. Five Oceans Pacific 900

Christopher Thomas
Last updated by Christopher Thomas

Building PCs, remodeling, and cooking since he was young, quasi-renowned trumpeter Christopher Thomas traveled the USA performing at and organizing shows from an early age. His work experiences led him to open a catering company, eventually becoming a sous chef in several fine LA restaurants. He enjoys all sorts of barely necessary gadgets, specialty computing, cutting-edge video games, and modern social policy. He has given talks on debunking pseudoscience, the Dunning-Kruger effect, culinary technique, and traveling. After two decades of product and market research, Chris has a keen sense of what people want to know and how to explain it clearly. He delights in parsing complex subjects for anyone who will listen -- because teaching is the best way to ensure that you understand things yourself.

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