Best Anchor Windlasses For Your Boat

Last updated on May 10, 2021

Best Anchor Windlasses

After a long day out at sea, hauling up a heavy anchor can be physically exhausting, especially if you’ve spent your time fighting stubborn fish trying to get your daily limit. When the sun has been beating down on your back for hours it’s an absolute chore. So, why not install an anchor windlass?

With one of these clever anchor windlass devices, you can ease the burden of lifting your anchor by yourself. An anchor windlass will do most of the work for you so you only have to put in some minimal effort at the end of a day.

If you’re not sure where to start looking for one, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about them. We’ve even selected some of the best ones on the market at the moment so you can decide which one is right for you.

What’s the Purpose of The Anchor Windlass?

An anchor windlass is a device that allows you to control the anchor chain or rope on your boat so that you don’t have to raise or lower it by hand. Its primary focus is to make maneuvering your anchor easier, faster & more efficient.

This not only means that controlling your anchor requires less effort, but you can shift your anchor more quickly in dangerous situations such as storms. On top of this, it’s also healthier for you because it doesn’t require as much physical strain that could potentially strain your muscles.

Horizontal Vs. Vertical:

Anchor windlasses are primarily available in two types, horizontal and vertical. Selecting the ideal one depends on whether you’d prefer convenience or deck space. The difference between the two types of anchor windlasses are:

  • Horizontal: This is situated above deck which makes it easier to install but it also takes up a lot of deck space. It’s more suitable for smaller boats or ones with oddly shaped chain lockers. They also only provide a 90° wrap of the anchor locker, which offers less security. Although it’s not stable enough for hefty outings, it will work nicely for casual ones.
  • Vertical: This type of windlass is placed below deck, which frees up more space above board but makes it more difficult to use and install. It does have a 180° wrap around the gypsy which does offer more security making it more ideal for rough water.

Manual Vs. Electrical:

automatic Anchor Windlasses

Another determining factor when it comes to selecting a windlass is whether it’s manual or electrical. This will influence the price of the device as well as the labor required to maneuver it. Here is what you need to know before you pick one:

  • Manual: Although windlasses remove the need for lifting anchors by hand, manual ones still require labor. These devices use levers or winches to move the anchor which still requires a bit of muscle work. On the other hand, they’re cheaper than their electrical counterparts.
  • Electrical: This windlass makes the entire process even easier because all you need to do is press a button for it to begin working. It’s ideal for convenience but is often more expensive than its manual counterparts and installation is a bit more complicated.

Anchor Rod Type:

The third factor you need to consider when selecting a windlass is the anchor rod type. There are three types available:

  • All chain: This type is ideal for large cruiser boats. It’s expensive but more resistant to wear & tear and has a self stowing feature because of how heavy it is. By using its weight, it slips through the chain pipe into the rode locker.
  • Rope chain: This is the most popular type because it allows for longer chain lengths and also gives more holding power to the anchor. It does need to be spliced to the last link on the chain which means that chafing is possible so it needs to be maintained regularly.
  • Rope Only: This type isn’t as sturdy as the other two but its affordability does make it suitable for small boats. It does require a drum so you can wrap the rope around it when you’re done and a self tailing feature makes it easier to store as well.

Strength Capacity:

A decent anchor windlass is rated by how much it can haul. This is referred to as its maximum pull, which is also known as its strength capacity. In order to determine this, you need to combine the weight of the anchor, the chain & the rope to calculate the ground tackle. The maximum strength capacity is then three times the amount of the ground tackle.

By doing this calculation, you’ll be able to establish whether your windlass can handle the weight of your anchor, rope & chain which will impact its performance. 


Three of the best windlass manufacturers are Lewmar, Maxwell Marine & Five Oceans. Here is what each company has to offer:

  • Lewmar: This company’s primary focus is convenience. It designs windlasses that simplify boater’s lives by making the anchoring process easier. This is done by using top quality materials to ensure that when you’re docking your boat is secure.
  • Maxwell Marine: If you’re looking for reliability, Maxwell Marine is the brand to turn to. Its innovative designs ensure quality and durability so that your windlass looks stylish while still performing a sturdy job.
  • Five Oceans: Out on the open sea, your windlass needs to be able to handle extreme weather conditions. With Five Oceans, you’ll be guaranteed that it will get the job done quickly in tricky situations because of its high stability and speed.


Installing horizontal windlasses is really easy because all you need to do is drill holes onto the surface of the boat in order to bolt it down. Vertical ones are more difficult. You’ll need to create a hole in your boat to insert the device below deck and placing it according to the manufacturer's guide is crucial.  

If your windlass is electric it will require additional wiring as well. For this reason, it’s recommended to get professional help to ensure that you don’t do any structural damage to your boat during installation.

Now let’s discuss a few winning models.

5 Best Anchor Windlasses

1. Five Oceans Pacific Vertical Anchor Windlass

Five Oceans is known for its elegant designs and its Pacific 600 Vertical Windlass is no different. This device makes a stylish addition to any boat while still maintaining reliable stability. With its fail safe gypsy lock, it ensures that your chain won’t slip out of place.

Because of its 316 stainless steel housing, it’s highly durable so it can withstand any weather conditions. The 600W motor gives you decent power so you can lift your anchor with ease without putting in too much effort. It’s decently priced for its power rating and strength capacity, making it ideal for casual boaters.

Here are a few of its notable features:

  • Motor Power: 600W
  • Maximum pull: 1000lb
  • Retrieval speed: 60’ per minute
  • Required rope size: 1/2” rope & 1/4” HT G4 chain
  • Suitable boat sizes: 16’ to 32’ in length


  • Failsafe gypsy lock increases security
  • Includes impact resistant motor cover to protect device
  • Stylish design


  • Mounting pad required to install it on decks that aren’t flat
  • Vertical installation may require professional help

2. Lewmar V700 G 12V Vertical Windlass

If affordability is your primary concern, but you’d still like a reliable windlass, then the Lewmar V700 is for you. This device is cost effective but it’s built with a durable design and a lock to ensure that your anchor stays in place.

Its stainless steel housing also guarantees that it will withstand various weather conditions so you can hoist your anchor up with the push of a button in any environment. Who said boating was only for the rich? With the Lewmar V700, anyone can have the benefits of a hardworking, electrical windlass for an affordable price.

If you want to know more about this device, here are a few of its features:

  • Motor Power: 320W
  • Maximum pull: 700lb
  • Required rope size: 1/2” rope & 1/4” G4 chain
  • Suitable boat sizes: Up to 35’ in length


  • Highly affordable
  • Easy to use
  • Anchor lock keeps the chain in place


  • Low motor power slows down the process
  • Occasionally jams when lifting rope

3. Five Oceans Atlantic Horizontal Anchor Windlass

The Five Oceans Atlantic 600 Horizontal Windlass has all the advantages of the vertical unit, but you get more maximum pull for your power. It might take up more deck space, but with this device, you’re guaranteed a sturdy strength capacity of 1200lb. On top of this, its retrieval speed is also fast, so you can haul your anchor up in seconds.

The heavy duty lever makes it easy to install, while the fail safe gypsy lock and durable design mean it can withstand rough seas. If there are any issues with this device, it’s that it’s a bit pricey, meaning it’s not ideal for every budget. This cost is worthwhile when you consider that this device is stable enough for larger boats.

Here are some features you may want to know about this product:

  • Motor Power: 600W
  • Maximum pull: 1200lb
  • Retrieval speed: 70’ per minute
  • Required rope size: 1/2” rope & 1/4” HT G4 chain
  • Suitable boat sizes: 16’ to 32’ in length


  • High retrieval speed
  • Large maximum pull
  • Easy to install due to heavy duty lever


  • A bit pricey
  • Requires reinforcement when it's installed

4. Lewmar PRO-Fish 1000G 12V G4-102 Windlass

The Lewmar Pro Fish 1000G was built with fishermen in mind. Its automatic freefall allows you to pull up to any ledge without concern for wrecking your boat. Your anchor drop will always be precise and quick which means that you don’t have to run your motor while waiting for fish.

Its stainless steel design means that it’s able to resist corrosion so you can spend hours on salty water with your rod in your hand. When you’re done, simply press a button to retrieve your anchor. This device is convenient and easy to install, making it worthwhile equipment for any fisherman’s boat.

Some interesting features of this product are:

  • Maximum pull: 1000lb
  • Required rope size: 9/16” rope & 5/16” G4 chain
  • Suitable boat sizes: 38’ in length
  • Powerful motor: Ensures fast line speed


  • Suitable for larger boat models
  • Automatic freefall makes anchor drop easier & faster
  • Resists corrosion


  • Lacks durability so it tends to break after extended use
  • A bit costly

5. Maxwell RC8 12V Windlass

With the RC8, Maxwell Marine offers one of the most powerful windlasses on the market. This device has a power rating of 1000W and a strength capacity of 1320lb, so it can lift the heaviest loads in the fastest amount of time. Despite being a vertical windlass, the two piece installation is easy and time saving, making it even more convenient.

Because of the heavy duty pressure arm & preloaded spring, you always have maximum control so you can ensure your boat’s safety. It might be expensive, but it’s worth every dollar. There’s even a manual override for emergencies. Few windlasses are as trustworthy.

Here are a few worthwhile features of this device:

  • Motor Power: 1000W
  • Maximum pull: 1320lb
  • Retrieval speed: 92’ per minute
  • Required rope size: 5/8” rope & 5/16” chain
  • Suitable boat sizes: 27’ to 45’ in length


  • High motor power
  • Large maximum pull
  • Fast retrieval speed
  • Durable & long lasting
  • Heavy duty pressure arm gives you more control
  • Manual override installed for emergencies


  • Very expensive

Final Thoughts:

With any of these five windlasses, you’ll never have to strain to haul up your anchor again. These devices ensure reliability and stability. With their high power ratings and automatic control, you can hoist your anchor up in no time.

Your boating experience should be a joyful endeavor. You shouldn’t be concerned that it’s too much work. With the right windlass, this will never be an issue. So, which one will you pick?

About the author  Robert Finn

Robert has over 20 years of experience boating and selling boat equipment. His passion for the latest and greatest gear helps our clients find what they need. His favorite boating place is the Florida Keys.