Victor tells the tale of two windlasses

Published: Saturday, 24 September 2022

WITH paddles no longer greased and our getting older(!) something had to be done to make working locks a little easier.

So it was two new rather expensive windlasses to do this.

First it was Thomas and the Lockmaster windlass at £100 from Jannel Cruisers, which alas Jan could not take to, and eventually  bought the GO windlass, at £80 I know not from where.  Both had ratchets allowing the use of a back and forth motion either way, sometimes making the work easier.

JanWindlessThe Lockmaster had a good test from Middlewich on the Trent & Mersey, to its end at Preston Brook then all the way back to Derwent Mouth, then further use on our recent cruise.

For Jan (pictured using its extension) it was too heavy and cumbersome, so after working a few locks she gave it up.

For Thomas the good thing about it was the handle that could be pulled outas shownmaking it much easier to wind stiff ground paddles.

But alas, the ratchet teeth were too far apart, making it awkward to reach over to 'click-in' or too short a motion to the 'click-in' then taking ages to wind a difficult gate paddle. And on such an expensive item it was surprisingly only a thin plastic, non rotating sleeve on handle (as pictured) that soon departed.

Using the ratchet means that when operating the opposite lock the mechanism must be altered to 'click-in' the opposite way, and this was difficult, it needing two thumbs to move, and it was no good just turning the handle over when say working gate paddles, as though one side was tapered to fit all spindles admirably, the other side was just sheet steel and not so secure.

LockmasterShortAnd that was the rub. For on one lock on our recent cruise dear Thomas used this side and the windlass spun off right into the drink!  And from the two came the expression"Good riddance!"

That was itit being left there, to lie at peace. Our not even bothering to get the magnet out to retrieve it!

The GO

And so to the GO windlass chosen by Jan, which had its test over the recent 16 days cruise.

This too had the ratchet system but in this case the teeth were very close together so that it clicked in wherever you reached with no straining. This one had a proper rotating metal sleeve on its handle too, none of the cheap plastic here.

GOWindlassIt also had a very easy method of setting it to wind one way or the other with a simple push of a lever, and with just one thumb.  It was also much lighter and not so cumbersome, but did not have the extension lever of the other for winding stiff ground paddles.

After the 'drowning' of the Lockmaster, both used this windless with its extra 'hole' on its shank that was handy for winding down paddles, not having to take such wide swings.

But alas it did not have a tapered sleeve for fitting on the paddle spindles but was straight—so would not fit on the hydraulic ground paddles on some of the the broad locks, as did the Lockmaster as was shown being used by Jan.

So there you have it. the Lockmaster was good for winding stiff ground paddles with its straight extension handle, but its ratchet was useless and difficult to operate.  A poor effort. The GO had a good working ratchet and easy to operate, a rotating sleeve on its handle but useless on the wide hydraulic paddles spindles, though we only met them on a couple of the broad Trent & Mersey locks.

So Thomas and Jan are both sticking to the GO, swapping it with each other as they work the locks together.

Victor Swift