You Best Clean Your Winch

Inside Jib Winch

Let’s face it, a clean winch keeps the crew happy because it makes for light work.  I attended a day long women’s sailing seminar where I spent the entire morning learning about navigation with paper charts, and the afternoon on board a 40′ Beneteau Sloop in a three hour Off Shore Cruising seminar. During the afternoon on the water we walked through boat systems, crew assignments, safety equipment and boat logs. We practiced tacking and jybing, using boom preventers, reefing, heaving to, and launching and retrieving the Code 0 furling spinnaker. That’s right, a furling spinnaker.

Our instructor positioned the 5 of us around the cockpit. I was stationed at the port jib winch. Ideally, we were all supposed to take turns at our specific stations in the cockpit, however when it was time to switch no one moved into my position. I spent multiple rounds at my post hauling in and letting out sheets as we perfected our rhythm and trim. Then we opened up Code 0, a bright green Bud Light sponsored spinnaker. The spinnaker unfurled in the breeze with little effort, but our instructor was not happy with our sloppy wrapping when trying to furl the thing away. Of course practice makes perfect and the fifth time is usually the charm.

I immediately noticed a difference between the ease of the Beneteau’s winches in comparison to our own boats winches. Servicing our boats winches was on our regular maintenance list but we had never done it before. So, we got out the trusty owners manual and followed the instructions.

Starting with our two larger jib winches, we disassembled.

Winch Without Gears   Dirty Winch Gears

Then, cleaned the gears with a toothbrush and bathed them in mineral spirits. The insides were pretty dirty and it took some time to soak in order to loosen the hardened grease.

Scrub and Bathe

While the parts enjoyed a good bath, we moved our attention to our Dinghy. It had been sitting in the water for a few weeks and we were concerned with what might be growing on the bottom. We found that our dinghy had lots of new underwater friends. Even so these types of friendships can be overbearing for one little dinghy, so we went ahead and give it a good scrub. The barnacles gave up a good fight for the friendship they had claimed!

Dinghy Friends   Creepers

We decided to store the dinghy on deck so we can experiment how we will lash it and our own sailing performance with it in its new position.

Dinghy Top Side

After the winch parts finished up with their soak, we dried then applied new winch grease.

Winch Grease

Then we reassembled and polished with the Miracle Cloth until pretty and shiny.

It's A Puzzle

And, Voila!

Shiny & Pretty

There was even more excitement when two large dolphins surfaced multiple times in the channel behind our boat. I watched in what seemed like slow motion as one of the dolphins surfaced and hit the bottom of the front of kayak, lifting it and the people inside slightly out of the water. The look on their faces was that of shock and excitement! I ran for the camera. Of course it’s never around when you need it! I made multiple attempts to get a noteworthy shot but it looks like I am still a long way away from having a professional career as a dolphin photographer. I will need to step up my game!

Dolphin Fail


  • That is so amazing to see marine life in it’s natural habitat, outside of a zoo. They actually got rid of the dolphin exhibit at the MN zoo. Boo!!!

  • Oh when I first saw those worms I thought it was baby calamar or that’s what my first thought was!
    But I’m sure these guys aren’t so tasty or too good for your health. lol

  • I left some comments! Hope you have better weather than me, it’s raining all day today. Love Carla

  • Hey! You left us hanging… Yes they look pretty, but how much better to the winches *work* now???

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