Whoever invented the fishing winch should get a medal. And be treated to free beer at whatever marina he lands in after he hauls in his nets for the last catch of the day. Few inventions have benefited commercial fishermen more over the decades. A bolted down winch on the deck of a fishing boat makes short work out of what would otherwise be a backbreaking job for at least one able-bodied fisherman, and may even more depending on the size of the dredge.
But as powerful as fishing winches are, they are not to be taken lightly when it comes to safety. Powerful, they are. Forgiving? Not so much. If you aren’t careful or don’t have the right sized winch mounts on the deck of your boat, you could be in for a rough ride – or worse.
Here’s a case in point: Back in 2000, a commercial fishing captain was operating his scalloping vessel with his crewman off the coast of Maine. As the captain began to haul the dredge back into the boat, the winch appeared to bog down, causing a loud roar of the motor and also causing the winch cable to pile up in one spot. The crewman meant well, but he did the one thing you should never do with a heavy duty fishing winch in operation: he grabbed the cable with his hands.
It was February at the time. No sooner did the water drip off the cable than it made a thin sheet of ice on the deck of the boat. As he tried to guide the winch cable to spread itself evenly over the width of the drum, he slipped and fell into the winch as it pulled up the heavy dredge from the bottom of the bay. And because the cable was fed at an angle through a block on the mast, creating what is known as a cutting zone. Trust me, you do not want to be in anything called a “cutting zone.”https://trawlerjobs.com/
To make a long story short, the crewman was injured, but survived the ordeal. But the message is clear. Winches are fantastically powerful and useful pieces of equipment, but they absolutely must be used with care. Mount yours carefully, giving a great deal of forethought to where the cable will be entering and exiting the water. Avoid creating cutting zones by angling your cable across the deck. And never, ever grab the cable while it’s in operation.
If you remember these lessons, you’ll be able to catch a lot more fish with a lot less effort, and you and your fishing mates will be safe and enjoy the power and utility that comes with owning a high quality fishing winch.
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