You’ve had a great day on the water and are ready to drop the hook in a secluded anchorage. You release the pin on the anchor and push the windlass down foot switch but nothing happens.
Last time, the windlass was working fine. This time, you’re stuck releasing the gypsy manually and adding some braking to the plunging chain. Once the anchor is set, it’s time to do some troubleshooting so you won’t have to pull the rode back in by hand tomorrow morning.
Back in the days when sail was still new, a windlass used to be a wooden rotating drum with pawls allowing it to only rotate in one direction. Later, the windlass was turned vertically so that men could walk all around it and push on bars to increase leverage. A large crew could be needed to complete this task on a huge ship.
The rode became too thick for the capstan to be wound around on bigger ships. In order to solve the problem, an infinite line was ran around the capstan. It then went on to a roller or block mounted several yards from it. The…