Boats and spearfishing go hand in hand. Sure, a lot of divers are lucky enough to be able to walk off the beach or from a parking lot to access their local dive location, but the vast majority of people involved in spearfishing utilize a boat when traveling offshore for a day of diving. One of the most overlooked and underrated accessories on a properly outfitted dive boat is the windless. Obviously it’s not required but without a doubt it makes the day 100% better when you have one. I am sure we have all, at one time or another, been the “anchor b!tch” on a trip. Dropping and pulling hundreds of feet of rope and chain over and over throughout a day. Waiting for the Capt. to give the word to drop the hook only to have to pull it back up because the boat ended up off the desired end location. We all made it through those archaic times, but letting a windless do the work would have been a hell of a lot nicer lol.
Here in the USA the most common style windless you find installed utilizes a motor, toothed cog and gypsy that pulls rope and chain up and utilizes gravity to drop it into an anchor locker. These types of windless have been on the market for years and have improved over time but unfortunately still seem to only last a few years at best until something needs to be repaired or replaced. Common issues include the ratcheting gypsy mechanism failing, water intrusion into the main drive gears, as well as, worn cogs no longer gripping the rope and chain. Additional considerations also include the size and depth of your anchor locker. Because the physical pulling part of a gypsy style windless is above deck and gravity is being relied on for the rope and chain to fall into the anchor well, a minimum distance from the windless to the top of the piled up rope and chain is required for it to function properly. Add in the mess of line and chain piled in the anchor locker that has a tendency to tangle and bunch.
I have been in the market for a windless since we purchased our new 2018 TwinVee 260SE. I spent hours reading articles, websites and message boards on various models, styles and manufacturers. With each start of a new search on the web, I would add in key words like reviews, problems or issues. Every time I was greeted with information that included failures, tangled lines and frustration. In all honesty I basically gave up and stopped looking for a windless. I couldn’t wrap my head around the idea of spending $1500-$2000 on a product that had a very good chance of having an issue or failure within the first couple years of use.
Completely by accident I came across a photo of a boat from Australia, which had a type of windless I had never seen installed on a boat under 100ft. Drum style windless or drum winches are extremely common on larger boats, yachts and ships. They have been used for decades with minimal issues, don’t require special rope or chain and have much more pulling power. As expected, back down the rabbit hole I went, researching every drum winch I could get information on. The more I searched the more excited I became that this style windless was going to fit my needs. With each article and review one name came up over and over. Lone Star Marine drum winches and accessories based in Australia, www.loanstarmarine.com.au. More research showed they have a distributor in the USA named Hammer Marine based out of Texas. Emails went out to both immediately.
I received a response from Lone Star Marine first. After a few emails back and forth, sending pictures and measurements, a game plan was in place. The owner of Lone Star, Malki Ary recommended a brand new model, the GX2-HD, that had yet to be released. The GX2-HD is the same physical size as their tried and true GX2 model rated for boats up to 23ft, but features the larger transmission and main shaft, bearings and bearing hubs of the GX3 model for higher holding power and shock load ratings. The GX2-HD perfectly fits the needs for boats 23-30ft that would normally use the GX3 but lack space for the install.
Here’s some specs for reference:
The GX™ series have become the new workhorse and standard in perfectly engineered anchoring systems at the right price. Featuring all Australian made 316 stainless and machined and anodized 6061 T-6 aluminium construction, “real Italian” transmissions, triple sealed bearings, twin shaft bearing systems, machined slimline ‘fast change’ collars, and an all new emergency release is standard on all models. Motors are once again custom manufactured exclusively for Lone Star Marine and are pre-rigged with twin leads for easy installation. From the company with so many world’s first under its belt, they are proud to have created the first anchor winch motor with an IP68 rating (AS/NZS 60529). This silicon free, glue free, paint free design has been achieved utilizing the latest modern manufacturing techniques, right in Australia. Most importantly, GX Series winches are made to get wet! From small recreational boats to commercial vessels over 60ft, there is a GX Series winch just right for your boat and application. All backed by their famous 5 + life warranty. Performance, reliability and raw power in a compact frame design, the GX2 is the answer for most trailer boat fishermen. Thanks to the well oversized gearing and motor this unit can easily be fitted to boats to 7m+ for saltwater use and much larger for freshwater applications.
Every Lone Star Marine Drum Winch Includes a 5 + Life Warranty
•1000W purpose built permanent magnet motor, 4 brush design
•IP68 (fully waterproof)
•Machined solid 25mm 316SS spool shaft
•High polished 6mm 316SS plate construction throughout
•Twin shaft bearing design, triple sealed (LSM exclusive)
•Machined roller bearing cover (triple sealed)
•No paint or silicon sealants
•No mild steel outputs or fittings
•Fully waterproof machined motor (LSM exclusive)
•Pre-rigged with tinned cable leads for easier fitting
•Machined (not cast) fast-change collar
•Perfect for deck mounting
•Holds 90m of 8mm rope + 7m x 8mm chain
•Larger capacity Dyneema kits are available
•Drop/Retrieve up to 156ft (46m) per minute
•12 adjustable gear/motor mounting positions
•Manual release feature in the event of power loss
•3000kg holding power at anchor-no need to tie off
•Huge 1360kg max pull (empty drum)
•110kg max recommended working load
•All 316SS are machined 6160 alloy construction
•Rounded style transmissions for easier fitting-made in Italy
Fully sealed motor and gearbox
•Perfect for wet wells and deck mounts
•Boats to 8m
•Fast drop/retrieval rating
•Designed and manufactured in Australia
Each Kit Includes the Following as Standard
•6mm base plate
•400 amp solenoid
•Genuine MP marine grade circuit breaker (made in the USA)
•Anodized alloy toggle switch panel
•All nuts, bolts, and washers needed for installation
•Warranty information, switch panel template, installation instructionsain Capacity
If anchoring in shallow water the GX2-HD, can be loaded with 210ft of double beaded nylon plus chain. For anchoring in deeper depths it can be loaded with 400ft+ of 1/4’ Dyneema + nylon top-shot, plus 20’ of chain. With this combination the GX2-HD is capable of safely anchoring in over 200ft of water in most conditions. Did we mention the GX2-HD is FAST!
After a short wait and constant communication from Lone Star and Hammer Marine the GX2-HD, solid stainless backing plate, 3/8 nylon line, custom wiring harness pre cut including all attachment ends, hawse pipe, solenoids and breaker arrived. My first thought was that every part of this system was clearly extremely high quality. The GX2-HD is extremely robust, the one piece rocker and breaker is nicely packaged on a pre- made panel and included a 120 amp breaker, this thing was no joke! The wiring harness which was made to my dimensions specifically for our boat, was perfect and basically plug and play. The solenoids were top quality and included the mounting bracket already installed. All in all I personally could’t see how they could have improved anything.
The install process was a bit more complicated as the area we discussed mounting the GX2-HD unfortunately wouldn’t work due to the angle of the tunnel of our Twin Vee 260SE. After a couple emails and a quick phone call with Malki we changed up the original plan to mounting the unit under the top deck with the LSR wide hawse pipe in front of but very close too the opening and thus the outside of the drum under the deck. The expert advice and quick shipping of both Lone Star and Hammer Marine really helped work through the install location issues and simplified the process. Once the mounting location was sorted out, the balance of the install was extremely simple. While I finished up physically mounting the GX2-HD my good friend Zach Justus worked on the wiring. The custom wiring harness from Lone Star was spot on. Each wire fit where it was intended and it was as simple as loosening lugs, sliding the pre crimped wire and eyelet into place and repeating the process a couple times. To say I’m impressed with the wiring harness would be an understatement. All in all we had maybe two days worth of work tied up in the install which could have easily been completed in just one day or less.
Once everything was completed we obviously tested the unit and everything was in perfect working order. We had a local tournament scheduled a week away and the new GX2-HD would get put through its paces at a tournament pace.
With a gap in or schedule and a hurricane in the gulf we took the opportunity to clean up the deck and newly installed hawse pipe and backing plate. Due to the new found alterations on the front deck of the boat our custom Seadek no longer matched the bow accessories previously installed. One call to Jason Gardner and Jarrod Johnson at SeaDek got us on the schedule to have our top deck and gunnels re-done in a fully custom wood grain laser print. We kept the same color pattern but the new wood grain laser pattern, now available, looks absolutely amazing! We have had SeaDek installed on our boats over the last 12 years and simply wouldn’t own a boat without it. Not only is it comfortable and basically stain proof it also makes the boat look amazing. Check out all the new custom laser options available from SeaDek at www.seadek.com
The day before tournament day, close friends, Angie Anderson, Dan Ash and Will Anderson showed up in the morning to help prep the boat for the tournament and do a little scouting. As we reached the first spot I was really looking forward to testing out the GX2-HD. The short, natural bottom starts to show itself on the side scan and as expected the GX2-HD drops the anchor perfectly outside of the rock bottom. I click the motors into reverse and continue to let line out without any tangles or issues. The same process followed in reverse and we all loaded back into the boat to move on to the next number. Over and over, up and down for the next two days the GX2-HD performed flawlessly as expected.
Due too an extremely busy schedule, Covid-19 and a record breaking number of hurricanes making their way into the Gulf we unfortunately didn’t have more chances to use the Lone Star GX2-HD leading up to our print deadline for this issue. As we continue to dive over the fall and spring we will make sure to keep you updated on the durability of the unit and any future thoughts on our website at www.spearingmagazine.com.
I have had the pleasure with working with many manufacturers on products for our boat, I must say the service, attention to detail, personal interest provided by Lone Star Marine and Hammer Marine was astounding. Adding this winch/windless system to your boat is truly an investment well worth it’s weight in gold. For more information please reach out to Lone Star and Hammer Marine at: www.lonestarmarine.com.au and www.hammermarine.com