Maximising Safety and Efficiency: The Importance of Choosing the Right Electric Trailer Winch for Your Boat - aLittleBitOfAll
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Maximising Safety and Efficiency: The Importance of Choosing the Right Electric Trailer Winch for Your Boat

boat taken off the water

Maximising Safety and Efficiency: The Importance of Choosing the Right Electric Trailer Winch for Your Boat

While boating is all about getting out on the water and having a good time, serious boaters know that having the right equipment to perform a safe retrieval at the end of the day is just as important as staying safe while they’re on the water. And even though you may have invested in some of the best cables and cordage on the market, it’s ultimately your trailer winch that’s responsible for getting the job done safely.

An appropriately rated winch makes the difference between a quick, safe retrieval, and one where you risk injuring yourself or damaging your boat. Ideally, you always want the most capable winch that you can afford, because opting for the most budget-minded alternative can end up costing you much more in the long run.

Electric Winches Make Your Launches and Retreivals Safer

Sherpa electric winch for boat

Let’s be honest: after a long, hard-on-the-water, the last thing anyone wants to do is find themselves in a wrestling match with a winch that isn’t up to the job. Even adequately rated manual winches can be difficult to work with on algae-covered ramps, which is why high-quality electric winches for boats are what you need to ensure that your retrievals, as well as your launches, go as smoothly, and as safely as possible every time.

In Australia, names like Atlantic Products, Powerwinch, and Runva are synonymous with premium performance 12V/24V winches. With a wide selection of electric boat winch models that are engineered to handle boats and PWCs up to 5200kg / 9m in length, these brands boast a standard range of features that include:

  • Fixed gear ratio ranges from 225:1 to 450:1;
  • 60 amp standard wiring harnesses;
  • Average line speeds of 10FPM (feet per minute);
  • Wireless remote, or cord-controlled operations with override; and,
  • Critical remote power-in / freewheel-out functionality.

Thanks to their powerful motors and IP-protected housings, electric trailer winches allow you to safely get your boat on or off the trailer without hurting yourself, or tying up the ramp for an embarrassingly long time. Deciding which electric trailer winch is the right one, however, means considering all the factors related to launching and retrieving, both on, and away from the boat. Without the input of manual feedback, opting for an underrated electric winch can be worse than continuing to use a manual one; that’s why the winch you choose has to be capable of countering the one force that’s present at every launch and retrieval: friction.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Your Winch

Regardless of whether you own a pair of 2m jet skis or a 9m sport cruiser, everything from your craft’s weight (including fuel and personal effects), to the shape of its hull is going to affect how much frictional resistance you’re likely to encounter when launching or retrieving. That’s why when looking at electric boat winches, you also need to consider as many of the contributors to resistance as possible, including:

  • Your boat or PWC’s specs. Because modern electric boat trailer winches are rated according to their capacity, the winch you choose shouldn’t be rated for any less than ½ to ¾ of your craft’s gross weight.
  • Your trailer’s specs. Your trailer’s length, whether it’s outfitted with rollers or bunks (along with how many), and even whether it tilts will all make a difference in the amount of friction the winch needs to overcome.
  • The state of your ramp. If your favourite ramp is steep, slick, or has seen a significant amount of erosion at its base, you’re going to want an electric boat trailer winch with the line speed to get you in or out of the water as quickly and as safely as possible.

Make no mistake: attempting to launch or retrieve with a winch that doesn’t have the power to overcome the friction can lead to all kinds of unexpected problems, and resorting to backing your trailer further into the water than you normally would make the problems even worse. The right solution is an electric winch for boats and PWCs that gives you the ability to launch and retrieve with confidence, no matter the conditions. You just need to be sure that they’re outfitted with ropes or cables that are equally capable of getting the job done.

Qualities of Proper Replacement Ropes and Cables

winch with a white rope coiled around

Even though today’s most capable electric boat winches for sale are rated for, and equipped with the strongest, safest, and most durable ropes and cables on the market, it’s still important to remember that they’re not indestructible. Persistent moisture and abrasion can extract a heavy toll from even the toughest ropes, and steel cables are virtually unusable once they become frayed or kinked – all reasons why you need to know what to look for in high-quality replacements.

Unlike the ropes used for hiking, climbing, or even cargo securing activities, the nylon ropes fitted to electric winches for boat trailers are engineered specifically to resist the salt, moisture, and severe UV exposure that goes with marine duty, and they feature a range of critical attributes that include:

  • 30% – 90% greater breaking strength than steel cables;
  • An 80% weight advantage over steel cables; and,
  • Fray-resistant, kink-free construction.

The zinc galvanized, multi-strand steel cables used with high-capacity electric winches for trailers are also a step above their contemporaries. Their massive tensile, and hook strengths are meant to withstand the resistances that would be encountered with heavier boats in tidal waters, and they’re identifiable by:

  • High chromium content for unmatched corrosion resistance;
  • Superior resistance to fraying or breakage; and,
  • Noticeably less stringent maintenance requirements.

Steel winch cables also cost significantly less than synthetic ropes, and that’s an attribute that’s worth considering when calculating the maintenance costs associated with buying a new winch.

The Final Word

At the end of the day, your trailer winch is much more than just an afterthought. It plays the pivotal role in making retrievals easier and safer; and where manual winches can’t always be counted on to do it in total confidence, you can’t afford to rule out the logical alternative.

High-quality electric winches for boats are the smart, safe choice that lets you put the risks and inconveniences of manual winches behind you once and for all. They’re the best way to protect your boat and your back.

Ian Tompson