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ASA Product Review

Electric Cordless Winch Handle: WinchRite by Sailology

Written by Jeff Grossman & Jean Levine @ TwoCanSail

Basic Specs:      Length: 15.5”     Weight:  6.5lbs      Battery: Lithium Ion    Price: Currently available for $599 at many Online catalogs.

As the average age of cruising sailors increases, the industry is responding with innovations such as the WinchRite power winch handle. Many new boats are being shipped with power winches but the expense of retrofitting them to existing boats is very high, usually running 3 to 5 Boat Units* per winch (*For those that don’t know, B.O.A.T. stands for Bring Out Another Thousand. So we’ve taken to referring to one thousand dollars as “One Boat Unit” J). For about ½ of a Boat Unit one can purchase the WinchRite and effectively turn all your winches into power ones!

When first seeing the demo we were a bit skeptical if they’d work on the large three speed primaries on our Skye 51 with a 135% jib that’s over 750sqft.  So Sailology, the maker of WinchRite, challenged us by loaning us one to try out on our next sail with clients. Guess what, they were right, it worked smoothly and easily. Using the reversing switch we were able to walk up through 1st, 2nd and 3rd gears as we ground in the big genoa. We also furl our jib using the secondary winch and it often takes 50 revolutions using a double handed winch handle to fully furl it. The WinchRite popped in and made short work of it! Luckily, we are still quite physically fit and don’t mind a work out once in a while, but those 50 turns can be a chore at the end of a long sail. We like being spoiled and that’s what it felt like using the WinchRite for the furl.  Our guests were impressed and the only reason they didn’t purchase one on the spot is they have a strapping 6’ tall 16 yr old son that is their “power winch handle”. We suspect that after he heads for college there will be a WinchRite on their 49’ Catamaran!

The WinchRite is relatively light weight at only 6.5lbs and easy to handle at 15.5” long. Though we did not exercise it long enough to deplete the battery, the WinchRite showed no signs of slowing down after more than half a dozen uses, including the long furling run.

Though our boat has a traditional main, many of the boats we captain have in-mast furling mains. These can sometimes be a bit of a wrestling match and we’re looking forward to using the WinchRite on inhauls and out hauls on those rigs.

Note, the WinchRite isn’t magic. If your lines are difficult to pull on, because maybe; the leads are not fair, or the sail on a halyard is excessive in weight for the tackle being used, and/or, slides sticking, high friction sheaves, etc then the WinchRite won’t over power these obstacles. If everything is running smoothly like it should for human power to manage, then the WinchRite will work well.

Sailology has done a great job on the “out-of-box” experience, that is, all the pieces that you need are neatly packed, clearly labeled, and it even comes with a nice carry bag for stowage. The WinchRite requires no assembly other than popping in the socket that mates with the winch, which takes all of two seconds. Something it did not have was a custom “electric winch handle” pocket to keep the WinchRite like one would a manual handle. So we strutted up to Sailology’s booth at the recent Annapolis Boat Show, proud to give them our great idea … and there in the booth was their new “WinchRite winch handle pocket”!

The WinchRite should be a good solution for those that are looking for some power assist with their winches but either are not ready to invest in expensive power winches, or have a smaller vessel where space and ship battery power is too limited for a power winch. We found the WinchRite to be a well built solid product that should survive the rigors of the cockpit and make life easier for sailors.

Jeff Grossman and Jean Levine are 100GT Captains and ASA Instructors specializing in Couples Cruising Consulting. They work Couple to Couple in all phases of sailing from ASA 101 to offshore passage making, boat selection & Marine Surveying, and couple-to-couple advanced teaching on their Skye 51 or on the couple’s boat.

Captains Jeff Grossman and Jean Levine

Antigua Marine Survey & Consulting, Inc.   727-644-7496