As most Australians live in the coastal belt, they are never too far away from a body of water. Apart from the obvious, there are many inland waterways, rivers and lakes that can provide an ideal escape and it's no surprise that more people than ever are taking advantage. You may have decided to buy a boat to get your own slice of this action, but will need to equip yourself with a tow hitch and trailer as well. You also need to make sure that everything is fully functional if you are to enjoy your new hobby with the least amount of hassle. Take the boat winch as an example. What do you need to know about this device so you can make sure that it is in good working order?
Getting the Right Gear
If you don't have a fully operational winch, you won't be going very far. Don't forget that your boat weighs several hundred kilos and it's not going to go anywhere without this type of gear. You may need to upgrade the type of winch fitted to your second-hand trailer to make your job a lot easier.
Manual Versus Electric
There are two basic types of trailer winch. One is electric and a joy to work with, while the other requires you to be fit and active.
If you have a manual winch attached to your trailer now, then it is based on the crank and windlass approach. The windlass is a rotating machine that works on a horizontal axle and is designed to maintain tension while the separate ratchet lock prevents any slippage. An internal gearbox allows you to manoeuvre the boat at a set speed.
The electric winch is, of course, far easier to deal with. It is pre-programmed for certain types of operation. For example, it will automatically apply full power to haul the boat in but will freewheel to lower it down into the water.
Choosing the Best Model
You will need to choose the winch according to the size of your boat. Each model may specify a maximum weight, but they generally come in three sizes — small, mid or large. Just remember that when matching up the winch to your boat you need to consider the safe working load capacity as well as the weight. Your boat manufacturer may give you the basic weight, but you will need to add fuel and any other equipment you may be carrying on board.
It's worth taking into account your specific requirements as well, especially when it comes to the type of ramp. If your boat slip is particularly steep, then you will need a bigger capacity winch. If your trailer has heavy-duty rollers, then there will be less resistance so you might be able to choose a smaller winch.
Getting Set up
Talk with your supplier to make sure that you get the perfect size and configuration of winches for your new hobby.