Different Types Of Winches For Marine Applications

winch for marine applications

A winch has many practical uses. It is a device that is capable of lifting or hauling heavy loads. It is used in various industries such as construction, towing, and marine.

For today, we are going to focus on winches that are found on a boat or a ship. A boat or a ship may use multiple winches depending on the size and the purpose of the marine vessel.

However, all those winches aren’t exactly the same. There are different types depending on the use. Let’s take a closer look at them below:

Winches On Ships

Winches are typically made of a drum where the line, which could be made of a chain, rope, or cable, is reeled in or let out of. For heavy-duty applications, it has additional parts such as gears that attach to a power source so they can be controlled with just a push of a button.

The main purpose of winches on boats or ships is to keep them at a specific location. They are helpful in anchoring and mooring. Furthermore, winches on ships can also be used for towing other boats or hauling heavy loads on fishing vessels.

Powering Up The Winches On Ships

In order for winches to work, they need a source of power. Boats or ships sail out on the water so they aren’t connected to the grid so they need to produce the power on their own. They could use batteries, generators or even the main engine as a source of power.

Smaller boats usually use DC electric power while bigger ones tend to have hydraulics or AC electrical power because of their capabilities in matching the higher demand for power at longer periods of time.

That’s not to say that DC power cannot handle bigger jobs, it’s just that it could be more challenging to handle all the required battery capacity and battery cables on a bigger scale. For that, most will choose to go for AC or hydraulics.

Most boats that are about 60 feet long are likely to use hydraulics or AC power. However, even the smaller commercial boats may opt for them due to higher power requirements.

Either way, winches on boats can be powered either by electricity or hydraulics. Electric winches are chosen because of having simpler systems. They are also easy to install and maintain. Plus, the operational cost is lower.

Hydraulic winches on the other hand are chosen for the most challenging of tasks due to their high strength capacity plus durability. Compared to electric winches, they have a more compact structure.

Types Of Winches On Ships

Anchor Winch Or Anchor Windlass

This is the most common type of winch used on a ship. The purpose of this is to let out or pull the anchor. Sometimes, it may also be used for the heavy fishy trawl.

There are two types of anchor winches depending on the type of material pulling the anchor. You could choose a chain anchor winch or a rope anchor winch. Either way, when purchasing an anchor winch, you need to consider the weight of your anchor plus the length and diameter of the rope or chain you are going to use with it.

Mooring Winch

This is a winch that is used for mooring the boat on a fixed object. This can also be used when the marine vessel is docked in an area where many other vessels are docked. It is a helpful winch during loading or unloading. It also provides support and helps with the positioning of the boat.

Mooring winches can be classified into non-split or single drum and multi-drum or split drum winches. The single drums are usually used on smaller ships.

Anchor Mooring Winch

This type of winch is multifunctional. They can be used in mooring, anchoring, or both. These also come in many forms depending on the size and requirement of the boat it would be fitted in.

Towing Winch

Towing winches are useful on boats as well as they are on tow trucks on land. They help tow another boat to wherever it needs to go. Different configurations are also available depending on the requirement or application.


The capstan is a winch that can also be used for anchoring or mooring. This type of winch is typically used for smaller ships because of their smaller size. Additionally, it is ideal for small deck spaces because a part of it can be installed below the deck. The capstan has a similar function to the anchoring or mooring winches but it looks different.

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