Lewmar issues safety warning on self-tailing winches

Evo Lia

After a recent accident in Antigua where a woman lost one of her hands while operating a self-tailing winch Lewmar, the manufacturer of the winch, has issued a safety warning on their operation. According to Yachting Monthly, a woman was winching her husband up the mast of an Amel 54 in Antigue when the line developed an override. While trying to free the override one of the woman’s hands became entangled and was severed, while her other hand was also severely injured. Another sailor who came to assist also lost seven fingers, according to the report. Lemar, Ltd. has subsequently issued a safety notice regarding the operation of self-tailing winches, repeated here:


On 5 March 2011, an accident occured aboard a 2006 Amel 54 in Jolly Harbour Marina, Antigua while carrying out the lifting operation of a crew member using a self-tailing winch. Currently, an investigation is underway.

Safety is of paramount importance to Lewmar and, in advance of the outcome of the investigation and as part of our ongoing commitment to operational safety, we would like to remind owners of Lewmar manual and electrically-operated winches of the following key points from  the Lewmar Electric 40-77 & Hydraulic 46-111 Winches Manual, Sections 2.1 and 6.1:

  • Under no circumstances should any self tailing winch be used in self tailing mode for any lifting operation; rather suitable and adequate manual tailing should be arranged with proper means of manually cleating or stopping the hoist.
  • Isolate the winch using circuit breaker/isolator when not in use.
  • Only persons who are completely familiar with the controls and those who have been fully made aware of the correct use of the winch should be allowed to use it.
  • It is the unavoidable responsibility of the owner or master or other responsible party to assess the risk of any operation on the vessel.

All safety notices are available in the relevant Lewmar Technical Manuals on Lewmar.com. Click on Support, then Product Literature, and filter by product. If you have any questions about the safe operation of a Lewmar product, please email press@lewmar.com

By Ocean Navigator