Save your back

A yacht older than you probably doesn’t have an electric winch. If hoisting the main is beginning to disagree with your back, it may be time to invest in an eWincher.

Having the French-manufactured eWincher aboard is a bit like having a strong, young crewman to do the heavy lifting – but you don’t have to feed it or provide accommodation.
The battery-powered unit fits any conventional winch, in effect turning it into an electric model. It’s particularly useful for raising mainsails and removes the risk of cardiac arrest when hoisting your comfortably-proportioned sailing buddy up the mast.
A recent arrival in New Zealand, the eWincher’s distributed by Sailing Imports. Owner Jim Martin says it’s an easy alternative for yacht owners exploring an electric winch retrofit.
“Retrofitting is not a cheap exercise – even if you’re lucky enough to have a manual winch that can be converted. Most yachties want to convert a halyard winch – typically mounted on the coach roof near the companionway.
“Usually, though, there isn’t enough room below deck to accommodate the bulkier electric unit or conversion kit. And installation costs are steep.”
The 2.2kg eWincher is powered by a 25V/3000mA lithium-ion battery, good for seven mainsail hoists/35 tacks before needing a recharge. It recharges in 1.5 hours, using a conventional 240-volt AC source.
It has three operating modes: Electric (the unit does the work); Manual (for fine tuning, like using a conventional handle); and Combined (electric and manual for faster operation). In Electric mode the rate of the winching ranges between 15 and 140rpm – and the speed’s easily varied by control buttons on the grip.
IPX6-rated, it comes with a single battery (an additional battery can be ordered). It lives in a pocket mounted in the cockpit and has a two-year warranty.