The windlass brake, that’s the thing which stops anchor and chain leaving your boat uncontrolled, began to fail during our first anchoring attempt in Ibiza. We didn’t realize what the problem was and assumed operator error. Turns out that this wasn’t the case. Our Quick windlass has a brake stopping the chain which became harder and harder to use. During our 5th anchoring attempt (meaning we used the windlass 5 times since we bought the boat new) the brake broke down. The thread in the bronze bearing was ripped out by the stainless steel spindle thread from the windlass motor. Surprise! How can an engineer match a soft bronze thread with tough stainless steel thread and hope it holds.
During the last anchor attempt in a narrow rocky bay in Southern Spain the brake failed and we had the troubling experience to haul in our chain with a broken windlass at night. Luckily we had an experienced friend, engineer and sailors de luxe on board (Chris and Susanne) who rigged a one time fix to get the anchor up. We were not sure if the fix would get the 60m chain up at all or could withstand any stress from a boat pulling at the chain and anchor. We maneuvered the boat gently over the anchor and retrieved it slowly without any further difficulties – except the tension in our minds.
We motored on during the night to Port Roses in Spain and docked long after midnight at the fuel dock of the port. We left at 6:30 the next morning still very tired.
The picture below shows the emergency brake fix of the anchor windlass.