Large ships usually have two anchors on the forecastle and two independent anchor winches. However, there are also models in which a single windlass is designed for two independently usable anchors; this also includes many historical and traditional ships . Usually an anchor winch is designed as a combination of mooring, mooring and anchor winch.
The mooring cable (wire, poly line, atlas line) for mooring the ship and for mooring (moving the ship on the pier) is wound on the mooring and mooring drum . The mooring winches have a working and a storage part. The hawser lies on the storage part and is output from it. Only when the hawser is tight when it is being hoisted is the working part wound up. This prevents the mooring lines from getting confused when they are exposed to particularly strong drafts in port operations. The crew members must ensure, especially in the case of wire, that it is rolled up neatly next to one another.
When the ship is moored, an automatic mooring device ensures that the mooring line (manila or plastic) is always tensioned. This facility is important in ports with changing water levels.
A special chain washer / chain sprocket is engaged to catch up the anchor . The profile of the anchor chain is worked into the chain sprocket, so that the chain is always taken along when the chain sprocket is turned, i.e. it cannot slip. The chain is not wound up, but is only pulled because it lies in the profile: out of the water, through the anchor hitch and disappears into the chain case. The chain wraps around the chain sprocket by 110 to 180 degrees. The anchor device is provided with a strong band brake that can be operated manually or automatically. The holding force of the brake is 45% or 80% of the chain breaking load, depending on the application (with or without chain stopper). The brake is necessary in order to be able to brake immediately when lowering the chain when the required chain length is in the water and to keep the ship at anchor.
To relieve the anchor winch, the chain can be held by a chain stopper when anchoring . The use of a chain stopper is absolutely necessary if the band brake is not able to hold the load caused by the anchoring process (80% of the chain breaking load). The retrieved anchor is pulled firmly into the anchor pocket by means of a lashing device in order to prevent the anchor from hitting the hull of the ship during the journey.
In the days of sailing ships, anchor winches were driven by hand via a capstan , later by small, mostly two-cylinder steam engines, and today they were driven electrically or hydraulically. Many smaller ships and yachts now also have an electric windlass. This is typically attached just behind the bow - anchor and chain are deployed over the bow. It is also rare to find yachts with fixed anchor gear at the stern, this variant with stern anchor is most likely to be found in Scandinavia. More often, however, the second anchor has to be deployed by hand or with the dinghy if necessary .