A boat ramp winch eases your boat into the water quickly and easily during launch. A winch will pull your boat back onto your trailer during recovery. In short, a winch is a must-have for any boat owner.
If you’re in the market for a new winch for your boat ramp, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the two main types of winches for boat ramps: manual (that is, hand-powered) and electric. We’ll then share our top three tips for deciding which boat ramp winch is right for you.
Let’s jump right into it.
Two types of winches
Let’s examine manual and electric winches in a bit more detail, so you can decide which is best suited to your specific needs.
Manual boat ramp winches
Manual or hand-powered winches are the most common type. These boat ramp winches are extremely straightforward, and feature a hand crank, a drum that stores the line, a rotating machine with a vertical axle, and a capstan. Together, these parts work together to maintain tension.
In addition to the above, manual winches feature a basic gearbox and lock to prevent slipping. The gearbox allows for varying speeds, the fastest being a 1:1 ratio used to wind up the line after your boat has been launched. A ratio of 3:1 is ideal for lighter boats, and a ratio of 5:1 can help you launch and recover heavier vessels, especially when the boat is out of the water.
Electric boat ramp winches
Electric boat ramp winches are exactly what they sound like – a winch that uses an electrical mechanism to cater to larger load requirements. Generally, a manual winch can handle loads of between 250kg and 1,200kg, and is dependent in part on your own level of physical strength. An electric winch, in contrast, may be able to pull up to 7,000kg.
This added capability does, of course, come at an extra cost. It’s important to determine whether or not you require this additional weight-bearing capacity before forking out the dollars – after all, there may not be any point paying for a feature or capability you don’t need.
How to choose the correct winch for your boat ramp
A quality winch system is crucial when launching and recovering your vessel. To ensure the safe and effective operation of your winch, it’s vital to select the right model. That means purchasing a winch that caters to the weight of your boat and trailer as well as the gradient of your ramp.
Keep in mind that, while some winches are able to operate without a problem in a range of conditions, others cannot.
Keep yourself safe and your boat out of harm’s way by taking the following three essential criteria into consideration before you purchase a winch.
What is the gradient of your boat ramp?
Before selecting a winch for your boat ramp, you’ll need to measure the gradient – or angle – of the ramp or slipway where the winch will be used. Boat ramps tend to have an angle of between 5° and 30°, most commonly one of the following: 5°, 10°, 12.5°, 15°, 20°, 25°, or 30°. This is quite a variation and will have a significant impact on the effectiveness of your winch.
If your boat ramp’s gradient varies along its travel length, you’ll need to measure the steepest point. This is the measurement to use when purchasing a winch.
What is the weight of your boat and trailer?
The angle of the incline of your boat ramp is the first thing to consider. The second is the weight of your boat and trailer. In fact, weight has the most significant impact on the successful operation of your winch.
Vessels and trailer can vary drastically in weight. For example, a smaller boat may weigh just 220kg and can be launched and recovered safely on a boat ramp with a 30° incline. Any boat over 5,000kg will need an incline of less than 15°.
To ensure you have full control over your boat, select a winch that is appropriate to its weight. Remember to take the combined weight of your trailer/trolley and boat into consideration – this is the weight to use when selecting a winch.
Find a winch that meets both the gradient of your ramp and weight of your boat
Do not purchase a winch that is only appropriate for the weight of your boat, and not the incline of your ramp. Instead, take both of the above factors into consideration.
Keep in mind that, for example, a 1,500kg vessel can be launched using a wide range of winches, but only some of these will be compatible with steeper gradients. Always check gradient first, and then consider the weight allowance. Get in touch with HES Winches if you need any further assistance or guidance.