This section provides some universal guidelines on winch safety and correct anchoring procedures. Winch safety starts with winch selection. A correctly specified and installed Maxwell Anchor Winch will provide years of reliable, trouble-free anchoring. If in doubt regarding windlass selection, refer to the product information section of this website or the Find Us section for your nearest Maxwell retailer, service agent or representative.

  • Be sure the windlass has been correctly specified and installed
  • The windlass should be used in conjunction with a chainstopper of the appropriate size
  • Run the boat engine while raising or lowering the anchor. Not only is this a safety precaution, it also helps minimise the drain on the batteries
  • Always motor up to the anchor while retrieving the rode. Do not use the windlass to pull the boat to the anchor
  • If the anchor is fouled, do not use the windlass to break it out. With the chainstopper taking the load, use the boat’s engine to break the anchor loose
  • Do not use the windlass as a bollard! In all but the lightest conditions, engage the chainstopper or bollard after completing the anchoring manoeuvre. This will avoid damage to the gearbox and possible bending of the stainless steel shaft
  • In heavy weather conditions, always use a heavy anchor snub or stop from the chain directly to a bollard or firmly fixed deck cleat
  • NEVER use the windlass or chainstopper as a mooring point
  • Always turn the isolator switch “OFF” before leaving the boat
  • When using the windlass do not switch immediately from one direction to the other without waiting for the windlass to stop as this could damage the windlass
  • Do not depend on the windlass to hold the anchor in its bow roller. A nylon line or an alternative anchor tension system should be used to secure the anchor to its stowed position when underway and will need to be removed before operation of the windlass. Alternatively, a pin through the bow roller and the shank can be used for securing
  • Correct fit of chain to chain wheel is essential for the windlass to operate properly.

Books on seamanship all have a section on how to properly and safely anchor your boat. The summary below is intended only as a basic guide to acceptable anchoring technique. Maxwell recommends that correct anchoring technique be researched and understood thoroughly before going to sea

  • Before deciding where you want to anchor, slowly cruise around the anchoring site and check the boats already at anchor, to ensure you have enough room to swing
  • Allow adequate room around the spot where you wish to anchor. Remember that power vessels swing differently than yachts. Boats on rope rodes swing around more than those on chain
  • Slow down and keep the bow into the wind, or current, whichever is stronger and as the boat comes to a complete stop, start to lower the anchor
  • After lowering the anchor, either drift back or slowly reverse while paying out the anchor rode, in order to ensure the anchor is set (holding firm)
  • The amount of anchor rode you pay out should always be at least three times the depth of water in which you are anchoring
  • In case the engine fails to restart, do not switch off the engine until you are sure the anchor is set (holding firm). Use buoys as reference points if they are available or, if close to shore, use prominent landmarks to check you are holding your position
  • Once anchored, secure your anchor rode with the chain stopper or secure to a deck cleat or bollard with a hitch that is easy to cast off. Do not anchor off your winch
  • Have a small buoy handy, which you can tie to the end of your anchor rode in case you have to slip your anchor. You will then be able to recover your anchor & rode later
  • Always anchor your boat via the bow
  • Check your position frequently when at anchor to monitor drag


Well maintained and cared for, a correctly specified and installed Maxwell Anchor Winch will provide years of reliable, trouble-free anchoring. Below is a brief summary of recommended procedures to ensure you get the best out of your Maxwell Winch year in and year out.

  • Accumulation of dirt and debris is the biggest problem for any equipment. Routinely wash down the above deck portion of the winch and chain with clean salt or fresh water.
  • Remove any corrosion build up and coat with a suitable protective product. This applies especially to the gearbox and motor
  • Ensure that the clutches are in good working order by releasing and re-setting them during inspection and wash down. Periodic greasing of the clutch cones with a waterproof marine grease is essential.
  • Above deck components should be removed and greased following the appropriate maintenance and installation instructions in the owner’s manual. Check the level of oil in the gearbox and top up as per instructions if necessary
  • Underdeck components should be sprayed, preferably with CRC-3097 Long Life or alternatively, CRC 6-66, CRC “Soft Seal” or WD 40
  • Particular attention should be paid to the motor terminals, footswitch terminals, terminals on the reversing solenoids, plus the battery and isolator terminals to ensure all are in good working order

Repeat procedures under PRIOR TO SEASON

Before storage, carry out procedures under PRIOR TO SEASON

  • ABOVE DECK COMPONENTS: Clean the windlass with a cloth damp with kerosene (paraffin). Spray, preferably with CRC 3097 Long Life or, alternatively, CRC 6-66 or WD 40. Polish off with a clean non-fluffy cloth
  • GEARBOX: The Maxwell gearbox is a totally self-contained sealed unit. Providing the windlass is not abused this unit should give years of trouble free service. Every three years the gearbox should be removed, oil drained, cleaned and replaced with SAE 90
  • RECOMMENDED LUBRICANTS: Gearbox Oil: SAE 90, (e.g. Shell Omala 320, Castrol Alpha SP 320). Mainshaft and bearing: Marine grease, lithium based or lithium complex based, (e.g. Duckhams Keenol, Castrol LMX). Do not use soap-based grease. Above deck components: CRC 3097 spray
  • Most anchor winches on vessels up to about 18 metres use 12V or 24V DC electric motors. It is important that the motor is kept well protected and serviced. Neglect of the winch’s electric motor is one of the most common causes of windlass failure.