eWincher Electric Winch Handle Review—Part 1, Our Testing

Last fall I checked out the eWincher electric winch handle at the Annapolis Sailboat Show and wrote an article with my initial thoughts—since deleted and replaced with this one.

This summer Chrysadev, makers of the eWincher, were kind enough to send us a unit and two batteries for evaluation.

And, as it happens, events conspired to make this an even better test than it might have been in that I managed to screw up my neck while removing a recalcitrant hose from a defective pump. While the injury is getting better slowly—everything gets better slowly at this age—it has meant that lots of high load winching is out.

OK, with all that pissing and moaning out of the way, let's take an in-depth look at eWincher. And when I write "in-depth" I kid you not, this will go two parts.

I know, seems like a lot of blather about a winch handle, but bear with me, this is a revolutionary product. And it's also an expensive product, so I owe you a detailed look to help you decide if eWincher is for you—an impulse purchase, this is not.

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Karl Westman

Thanks for the detailed review. I bought an ewincher last winter and used it this season. I solo sail a Blue Jacket 40 equipped with an electric main halyard winch. The primaries were prewired at the factory for conversion. No way would spend that kind of money to convert. ( I imagine this will be covered in part two) This devise is brilliant. I use it to trim the mainsheet when closehauled. I use it to get a fast and easy furl on the big Solent rigged reacher. I like that I can pay attention to sail shape as I make small adjustments to sail trim. When winching manually I tend to assume an head down stance over the winch. Yes, the ewincher takes practice and with all electric winches, one has to be cognizant so not to break stuff with your new Superman strength. One last thing. My unit was delivered with a faulty charger. The support was nothing less than spectacular. Through a series of quick response emails a diagnosis was made and new charger was sent within days. I give ewincher 5 stars. At age 66, I still enjoy the physicality of sailing and manually winch the majority of the time. However, ewincher is a great first mate, especially in a fresh breeze when the loads increase and speedy action is required to reduce the chance of cockpit mishaps. It ain’t cheap…quality kit is expensive. Ewincher is worth every penny.

Robert Newman

Interesting.
I’m interested in, but haven’t tried, Karver Pontos 4 speeds. Have you?

Björn Royson

I guess the power draw is higher on the eWincher than on an electric winch. They are doing the same work but with an extra mechanical power transfer and an extra inverter/charger/battery stage for the eWincher. At best they are comparable but the electric winch must be more efficient. Or am I missing something?

Björn Royson

Of course the eWincher will draw less of you use it less. An electric winch has high power draw because it does a lot of grinding work. If you do the same amount of grinding work with the eWincher, it will draw even more. Unless the electric winch makes heat of most of the power but then it will probably burn.

Björn Royson

But the high numbers are just momentary inrush current. A Harken 72 is just 1500 W. You need to size the cabling for the peak but that has minor effect on the average draw. And, even at low speed an electric winch is pretty fast. You cannot use a minute at 200 Amps for a tack! I would rather say 20 Amps for 10 seconds.

Kevin Connell

I love it that we’re talking about volts and amps.. LOL. $3000 USD+ to save a few seconds and a few calories per tack. I can think of a few things… actually, my entire list of things to do, at any priority, would come before getting one of these.

Devon Rutz-Coveney

Hey Kevin… lets see if after 30+ years of cruising .. with your partner/wife also turning the winch handle under high loads … if you think the same way. Bottom line: people do what they can manage. In my experience, after 31 years of cruising, to keep the experience enjoyable/comfortable/safe one needs to ‘futureproof’ more and more… just food for thought.
That said, good on you for being capable of being out there and managing your ‘list’….

Eric ABADIE

Hi John,
I bought one three years ago. I have sailed something like 20 000 NM with it on my 15T Garcia sloop. With my wife or singlehanded. I don’t imagine to sail without it anymore. From my experience I concurr with all you said, with all the figures you gave. One more figure : to hoist me (75 kg) at the top of the mast (16 m) only represents 15% of the battery capacity.
Yes, it is not cheap but just let us imagine that for the same service we want to convert four or five winches to electric ones !
One more point : after 18 month of use, Chrysadev offers me to service the handle for free. Everything was checked, the software updated and improved (I bought one of the very first one) and the square end cap changed to better suit the drive shaft of my Andersen winches. Top quality after sale service.
I don’t regret my investment at all !

Ray Marc-Aurele

High John,

Please correct me if I am wrong. The e-wincher will not have the same tendency to break gear as an electric winch, because the operator actually has the load in their hands. Therefore you still feel the handle load.

PETER CAMERON

https://www.powerarm.com.au/ Here is yet another model, Australian made, for $AU1600 (~$US1150). It appears to run on 18V Milwaukee batteries, so most of us would not need to buy extra batteries or charger. Only recently advertised. I have seen no reviews, and do not know of it’s functionality or quality. But reasonably priced.

Philip Wilkie

One of the slide pics shows the Powerarm with some sort of neoprene looking cover that looks designed to protect from light impacts and splashes. Clearly it’s not meant to go swimming, but in the cockpit of a larger vessel it should be possible to keep it safe.

Overall it’s not as smart as the E-Wincher, but I can afford one 🙂

I got a 200nm sail on a big Swan with electric winches last weekend and I’m convinced on the merits of power assist. (The owner of this boat is a professional skipper with an outstanding racing record and he’s no snob about going electric.)

Devon Rutz-Coveney

OK… Valiant 40…..we have an Andersen compact motor drive electric winch that drives the main halyard, reef lines, staysail halyard, spin halyard (all thru cam cleats under the dodger). The Genoa, mainsail and staysail sheets, roller furling lines are still 2 speed Andersen ‘grinders’ (all convertible to electrics)… as we get older (60 years now!!!), on passages with fickle winds, it gets laborious…. most polite way of saying it…..
As a prelude to this report we have tried the cheapest option of ‘electrifying’ the other winches by using a Ryobi 18volt electric contra-angle drill with a winch driver bit….. it works ….but not really all that well: heavier loads/winds and it simply is not enough ‘grunt’ for the task. The bit was only $25.00 NZD thru Foster’s here in NZ. The drill was less than $200.00 NZD and we already had it onboard. I’m convinced that this e-wincher modality it the way to go after reading this report…. we have read similar reports from other places and compared these (i.e. the ‘Winchrite’)… we just needed a report from someone we trust who actually had the sea trial info to confirm the E-wincher motor was up to to it… The Andersen compact motor was very expensive… about $6000.00 NZD at the time we bought it years ago… no way we would do that again for 6 more winches…. it seems a ‘no brainer’….
Thanks John for the excellent report. Really appreciate it. We’ll update the site once we get ours and get it trialed onboard in some winds… All the best…

Edward Sitver

My Lofrans power windlass allows manual operation using a winch handle. Fortunately, I’ve not had to use this feature in anger, but just a few minutes of testing it out leaves me dreading the day when I do.

An electric winch handle might be a good option for operating my power windlass manually in the event of a failure, rather than dragging the rode down the side deck using my electric primaries. I couldn’t justify the expense at the moment, but I thought I’d toss the idea out there as an interesting application for an electric winch handle, hopefully without instigating a side conversation about the pros and cons of electric windlasses. 🙂

Dick Stevenson

Hi Edward, I have done so with a Lighthouse Windlass in practice with an EWincher and it does the job very nicely.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy