Video of the Week: Installing an Electric Windlass

Having an electric windlass on your boat is like having an extra “mate” aboard to easily deal with anchoring.  Come inside the TotalBoat Workshop as we show you how to install a Lewmar Electric Windlass in the existing anchor locker. With advice on placement, how to build it’s motor and battery into the locker space, and wiring help, this is a great winter project that will pay you and your first mate back all summer long. No longer is it a headache to set or relocate your anchor – even in bad weather – as this windlass can be controlled from the bow or inside from the console at the helm.

Check out the video and don’t be intimidated by this project. Our how-to video will guide you and if you need more help – we are standing by all week long to answer your questions and assist you with your boating projects and improvements.  Call our Tech Help line (800-423-0030) or Facetime us and show us what you’re working on and how we can help you out!

We want to help you make your boat better! And an electric windlass is a great way to reap the benefits of a winter project for years to come.  You can everything you need for this project at 



7 thoughts on “Video of the Week: Installing an Electric Windlass

  1. While this is informative, there are several issues of importance that are not addressed.
    First, while outside the parameters of installing the windlass, is where all the water and muck that comes up on the anchor and rode will eventually end up? If this well drains into the bilge, then it will end up there – until the limber hole(s) clog, and then it will fill up the anchor locker.

    Second, there is no mention of attaching the bitter end of the anchor rode. This is actually overlooked many times with both hilarious and, sometimes, disastrous results.

    Next, and this happens all the time ( and I speak from personal experience), the rode will get tangled up in the locker under this newly glassed in platform supporting the windlass and bow roller. Also from personal experience, the only remedy is to get in there and untangle it. it is not clear how much clearance there is in this installation, nor, for that matter, how much rode will actually fit beneath the support platform. I have seen the deck ripped out of a Cabo Rico 37 when a knot of chain came up against the bottom of the windlass tube in a hurricane. One should not assume that just because there is a down button on the windlass, a snarled rode will somehow pay out every time.

    This may be a technically great installation, but please consider the above caveats before adding considerable complexity to small boat operation.

    • Bill thanks for your thorough look at the video. Here are some answers to your questions and concerns.
      First – the anchor locker has it’s own drain above the waterline at the bow. It drains directly out and yes one must remain astute about making sure the drain hole is clear.
      Next – the bitter end of the anchor rode is attached near the bottom of the chain locker. There is an eye mounted that has the end of the chain shackled to that eye.
      And lastly – there is plenty of clearance under the shelf for a tidy pile of anchor chain. Again one must be astute and visually inspect (and physically) the rode on occasion. After a full season of use we can attest to it being snarl free all summer long. We use a snubber to take the load off the windlass once the anchor is set and also when the anchor is pulled all the way up – to keep the anchor from coming loose and to keep the strain off the windlass which was NOT designed to hold that load of being anchored, but rather to raise and lower the anchor and rode. I hope this helps. I can post some photos of the completed locker with the anchor rode in it if that helps you. Thanks for watching!

      • Kristin;

        Thank you for your post.

        I am glad that your installation included the necessaries you mentioned. I have done enough of these installations – and used a windlass with chain long enough- to know what they are and just wanted to make sure others less fortunate than I got the whole picture!
        I would also mention that with the all-chain rode, a wash down pump is more than a luxury. Perhaps the subject for another video?



  2. Some confusion. I understand that the power to the windlass requires that an engine is running. Was a third dedicated battery added?
    Also, if the windlass overheats under load, is there easy access to the breaker switch?

    • We asked Matt – the windlass genius and project manager for this – about your question. Here is his answer:

      The engine does not need to be running to use the windlass but here is an explanation of why I connected the windlass to one of the engine start batteries;

      The best way to wire a power boat is to have a dedicated engine start battery and a separate battery for the “house” loads such as lights, electronics, stereo, etc.

      The Black Watch 26 is powered by twin outboard engines and each engine has its own dedicated start battery. There is a third battery onboard that powers up all of the house loads.

      We could have connected the windlass to the house battery but because the windlass draws a lot of power there was the possibility that the when used the windlass would drop the voltage of the house battery and this could cause the electronics to turn themselves off. Most sensitive electronics will shut down if the voltage drops below a certain level in order to protect themselves from damage.

      In order to avoid the possibility of the electronics turning off we connected the windlass to one of the engine start batteries. The engine start battery has plenty of capacity to run the windlass long enough to raise and lower all 200 feet of anchor chain a few times so there is little chance of killing the battery from windlass use.

      As we stated in the video, the engines will be running most of the time that the windlass is being used so we are not worried about running down one of the engine start batteries.

      There is a main circuit breaker that will shut down the power to the windlass if it overheats or jams during use. This breaker is located under the deck hatch at the helm and is easy to get to. This breaker comes with the windlass and is shown in the video. It is located next to the main battery switch.

Leave a Reply to miro Cancel reply