Anchor windlass overhaul

When we were about to lift the anchor to leave Raivavae two weeks ago, our anchor winch stopped working and I had to crank up the chain manually. But with Tahiti as the next stop, the moment our windlass had decided to quit was actually not so bad.

With the help of a good friend here in the anchorage off Marina Taina I took the winch completely apart. The reduction gear had almost no oil left and two of its bearings had rusty balls and didn’t rotate very well. The oil seals were apparently worn out by the rough, rusty shaft. Fortunately there is a well-stocked shop for bearings and oil seals in Papeete (‘Evo’ in Fare Ute). We’ve got the shaft ‘cleaned’ and the new bearings pressed on at a machine shop in Papeete. An even more severe problem was the winch motor as its rotor spun so eccentrically that it had scratched the stator. So also the motor’s got a new bearing and a new bushing (which I made myself from a bronze water-pipe fitting). Having the motor already apart, I sanded the brushes and the commutator.

Now everything is assembled with self-cut gaskets and our 30-year-old windlass (it’s a 1kW Muir Cougar) is running smoothly again like a new one. Total cost of overhaul: EUR 200.


  1. Norbert Vorstädt says:

    Meinen Respekt! So ein Ding auseinander zu bauen, zu überholen und wieder zusammen zu bauen ist nicht leicht. Da hätte ich mich nie herangetraut.

    Wie sind inzwischen wieder zu einem Flugurlaub unterwegs gewesen. Wenn du während deines Strohwitwer-Alltags Lust und Zeit hast, dann schau einfach mal rein.

    Liebe Grüße
    Norbert und Rosi

    1. Josef says:

      Servus Norbert (unbekannterweise…),

      Also, wer so wie Du mit dem Flugzeug durch die USA reist wüsste sich wohl auch mit einer Ankerwinde zu helfen!

      Schöne Fotos hast da auf der Homepage. Beeindruckend.


      1. Norbert says:

        Hallo Josef (auch unbekannterweise) :-)

        Vielen Dank für deine lieben Worte. Ich freue mich, dass unser Blog noch einen weiteren Leser gefunden hat. Ja so ganz unbedarft sind die Piloten auch nicht. Aber an die praktischen Fähigkeiten von Fahrtenseglern komme ich dann doch nicht heran :-)


  2. Marc and Nadine Verstraete says:

    We are using your description and anchoring advices for the Gambier archipelago at their fullest extension !
    Thank you for these wonderful information.
    Coincidence ???
    Last week, we lost our windlass, here in the Rikitea roadstead ! ( Could be much worse of a place :-) ) Both + an – battery cables connections totally corroded and falling into dust !!! Are ordering new cables via internet and phone in Papetee and waiting for the next plane to deliver the needed parts …. To be continued … Thank you for all the info on your website !

    1. Christian says:

      Hello Marc and Nadine,
      we’re glad you find our little guide useful. enjoy the Gambiers and good luck with your repairs!
      cu somewhere around soon,

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