Windlass-less

Editor-In-Chief, Patrick Sciacca, describes the difficulties of hauling anchor sans windlass.

Windlass, Yacht, Boat
Anchoring is a tough job without a windlass.Jesse Orrico

I never went to medical school, but I can tell you all about the L5 and S1 vertebrae. They’re in an area in your lower back that comes to the forefront when you help out on your friend’s 50-footer sans windlass.

I’m not quite sure why I always volunteer for anchor duty, dropping and lifting this metal bucktoothed behemoth hellbent on compressing my spine and making me even shorter by day’s end. On a certain level, perhaps I volunteer to reassure myself that even after four joint surgeries and an athletic life that has come back to haunt me, I’m still as able-bodied as I once was. I do enjoy being challenged, and this anchor has found its share of sticky seafloors over the years.

On a recent bottomfishing trip, our captain found a perfect piece of structure. He positioned the boat for the drop. I left the warmth of the heated bridge deck, replete with brand-new cushions and an electronics suite that would make any yachtsman geek out, and I crossed the deck above two technology-heavy, common-rail diesels. Exiting to the side decks, I spied the two-season-old mezzanine. It’s a great spot to watch baits on the troll. A fantastic upgrade. (Seriously, a windlass would be a nice upgrade too.)

"Ignoring the viper biting into my spine, I took a wrap around a cleat, and the anchor got tight. Sweet relief."

Walking forward and past the new EZ2CY enclosure, I put one hand on the bow rail and lifted the anchor locker hatch. There it was, in its vertical bracket. After unhinging the anchor, and with two knees and one hand on the pitching foredeck as if I were playing a game of Twister, I grunted during a long, steady pull to get the anchor on deck. Its sand-piercing tooth seemed to snarl at me.

“Hold on,” the captain said, checking our drift. I held the anchor over the side and felt a familiar twinge in my lower back as the call came to let it fly. The anchor, chain and rode plummeted to the seabed, coming to an abrupt halt.

Ignoring the viper biting deep into my spine, I took a wrap around a cleat, and the anchor got tight. Sweet relief. It was time for some fishing fun, completely worth a little pain.

“Wait,” the captain called out. “We’re off the spot. We have to reset. Pull it up.”

Sure. Why not? (But a windlass would be nice.)