The Offshore Voyaging Reference Site

Cool New Winch

One of the most important advances in sailing hardware in my lifetime was the self-tailing winch. If you came to sailing after these came on the scene you will not fully appreciate them, but, trust me, suddenly having both hands free to put our full weight on the handle was game changing, particularly for shorthanded sailing where there is rarely another crew around to tail.

But since then—some 40 years ago if memory serves—not much has changed in winch design…until the Ronstan Orbit™ Winch.

I have not used (or even touched) an Orbit Winch, but being able to easily slip the line without removing the handle looks to me like one of those seemingly insignificant features of deck gear that’s actually a game changer.

As significant as self-tailing? Probably not, but then few things are.

And being able to pull the winch apart for service without tools is cool, too.

Right now the Orbit is only available in smaller sizes, but I’m guessing that will change—Ronstan and Andersen are sister brands.

If I needed a new winch in the sizes available, I would be looking hard at the Orbit.

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Paul Borondy

I have a pair of Selden reversing self tailing winches. Press the button on the end of the handle and turn to pay out the sheet, release the button and wind the sheet back in, all one handed. One thing to note: the ewincher will work with the reversing winch but cannot lock onto the winch.