What Size Boat Winch Do I Need? || Choose The Correct Size

A boat winch is required for loading & unloading large boats when the weight of the cargo is too much for two people to handle.

Moreover, they also come in handy in helping boats overloaded with sand & gravel or heavy wood materials.

Furthermore, there are multiple applications of the winch which make it very useful in varied ways.

Below we have covered some important uses of boat winch, their importance, and how to choose what size boat winch do i need

Types Of Boat Winches:

A Straight drum winch. It is used for smaller boats and fishing boats.

In a straight drum winch, a rope or chain is wound around a drum by pulling on the free end of the rope or chain, using the help of ratchet gear and crank mechanism.

These Types Of Winches can be found in cars, small trucks, and other vehicles that require heavy load lifting and moving.

1. Centerline Winch:

What Size Boat Winch Do I Need
Source: eu-flo.com

In this type of winch, a centerline acts as a track on which the load moves from one end to the other.

There is no main gear involved in this type of winch.

However, a system helps rotate the drum by providing energy from outside sources, such as batteries or motors.

This system allows rotation of the drum even if the car engine is not running.

This type of winch is suitable for use in bigger and heavier loads and cannot be used in smaller loads and cars.

Measurement/Size Of Boat Winches:

Measurement/Size of Boat winch depends on a few factors such as

  1. Type Of Load Being Moved
  2. Capacity
  3. Dimensions
  4. Working Condition
  5. Area Where The Winch Is Being Used.

Let us discuss them in detail below:

1. Distance:

The measurement of the boat winch will depend on the distance required to move the load from one place to another.

2. Weight:

The weight of the boat winch will depend on the weight of the load that needs to be moved.

3. Width:

The width of the boat winch will depend on the size of the vehicle where the winch is being used.

4. Height:

The boat winch has two height requirements depending on the situation where it is being used.

You need to select a shorter length windlass for short heights, while for higher heights, you need to select a longer windlass

5. Bilge Capacity:

Bilge capacity is another important consideration when selecting a boat winch.

If the vessel’s length is larger than 15m, you need to use a large bilge capacity windlass to prevent damage to the vessel’s bottom and other cargo from sinking in the bilge.

6. Engine Condition:

The engine should be working efficiently to take maximum torque for pulling or hauling a load.

If the engine does not start, you need to make sure that it has been serviced before starting it.

Working Conditions Types:

There are two types of working conditions for boat winch: Winch up/down & Tow-in-tow winch.

As per working conditions,

Different types of winches are required.

1. Winch Up/Down:

For this type of winch, it is possible to work either up or down depending on the size of the Boat and its distance from the dock.

For example, if the distance between the dock and the Boat is too long

It is better to use a down-side windlass than an up-side windlass.

2. Tow-In-Tow:

Source: discoverboating

In this type of winch, it is possible to move a load in both directions, i.e., away from the dock or towards the dock.

It is necessary to consider this when deciding which direction to choose for moving the load.

Attachment Points:

Source: containtergay

As mentioned earlier, different attachment points are required for different applications.

This will depend on the use and environment where the winch is used.

Before choosing an attachment point for your boat winch, many factors need to be considered.

These include the size of your Boat, weight of the load, hull shape, water depth, and others.

Deciding upon an attachment point will affect the distance between the anchor line and the vessel deck.

You need to keep in mind that there should be enough room between the two points.

So that you can smoothly operate the winch without hindrance.

Also ensures that you do not break any lines while using the winch.

How To Use A Boat Winch
Source: Can stock photo

How To Use A Boat Winch?

Using a boat winch is simple and requires no special training.

All you need to do is ensure that the following things are kept in mind while using a winch.

1. Positioning:

Ensure that the anchor line and boat deck are kept far enough apart so that you can operate the winch without interfering with each other.

It is advisable to use rope loopers to minimize the distance between the boat deck and the anchor line.

2. Choosing The Correct Type Of Boat Winch:

While choosing the correct type of winch for your Boat.

it is important to know what kind of loads will be lifted and how heavy they are.

If you have not figured out what type of load you will be lifting.

It is best to get assistance from a marine service center or marine manufacturer to help you determine the right type of winch.

3. Usage:

As stated earlier, different types of loads require different types of winches.

For example, if you have a motorboat with large motors and heavy load capacity,

It is better to use a hydraulic winch than a traditional hand winch.

Hydraulic winches can provide great safety for your Boat and allow you to move cargo more easily.

4. Materials Used:

Fiber Glass
Source: India Mart

Several materials are used to make winches; however, some are more efficient.

Some materials include:

  1. Fiberglass
  2. Aluminum
  3. Plastic
  4. Steel
  5. aluminum etc.

While plastic and fiberglass are lightweight and rust-resistant, they do not provide additional strength or support.

Therefore, these are ideal for low-load situations where light loads are required.

Aluminum is extremely strong and lightweight and makes an excellent choice for larger boats that carry heavy loads.

Plastic is less expensive than other materials and provides strength but cannot withstand extreme weather conditions.

If you live in an area with severe weather conditions, plastic may be the best option.

Boat remains stable during high-speed sailing
Source: iopscience.iop.org

Benefits Of Perfect Winch:

A properly chosen winch can reduce your stress level while moving cargo on your Boat.

Using a winch ensures that your Boat remains stable during high-speed sailing and reduces the likelihood of damaging the vessel itself

  1. When used correctly, a winch can greatly increase the amount of time you spend boating and help you achieve greater boating skills.
  2. It helps maneuver heavy objects around your Boat without standing on the deck.
  3. Can lift boats in areas where space is limited.
  4. You can do many tasks with one single winch, such as lowering or raising water skis or sailboats.
    Helpful when mooring or anchoring allows for safer travel by stabilizing the Boat when underway or stationary.
  5. Using a winch also improves fuel efficiency because you can control the speed at which your Boat travels. This makes it easier to control your Boat during emergencies.

What Is The Best Size Winch For Boats:

The best size of a winch for a boat depends on your Boat’s size and how much weight you will be hauling on board.

However, we have made some recommendations based on the average weights of different boats and what other options are available to you.

We recommend starting with a 10-foot long chain with an 8/0 diameter link chain attached.

Another great option is a pulley system that allows you to save weight while transporting items from one location to another.

Some devices allow you to store more than one item at a time, depending on the capacity of your vessel.

You should check with your supplier before purchasing to get the correct type of equipment for your Boat.


Boat winches have many different uses, sizes & ranging from

  1. Loading Cargo Onto Boats
  2. Unloading Supplies From Cargo Ships
  3. Anchoring Boats
  4. Fishing Vessels.

When properly used, they can also improve safety by preventing overloading and preventing capsize accidents.

They are often seen as essential pieces of equipment for commercial vessels. But they can also be useful for smaller recreational vessels.

Using a winch is beneficial when there is no dock or mooring for the Boat to rest upon.

This guide provides adequate information to help you choose the perfect size winch for your Boat.

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