Encyclopedia of Ocean Engineering

Living Edition
| Editors: Weicheng Cui, Shixiao Fu, Zhiqiang Hu


  • Liping SunEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-10-6963-5_152-1


Winch is a mechanical device that is used to pull in (wind up) or let out (wind out) or otherwise adjust the tension of a rope or wire rope (also called “cable” or “wire cable”).

Scientific Fundamentals

Historical Development

The earliest literary reference to a winch can be found in the account of Herodotus of Halicarnassus on the Persian Wars (Histories 7.36), where he describes how wooden winches were used to tighten the cables for a pontoon bridge across the Hellespont in 480 B.C. Winches may have been employed even earlier in Assyria. By the fourth century BC, winch and pulley hoists were regarded by Aristotle as common for architectural use (Coulton 1974).

The yacht Reliance, American defender of the 1903 America’s Cup, was the first racing boat to be fitted with modern winches below decks, in an era when her competitors relied on pulley systems (block and tackle).

In its simplest form, it consists of a spool and attached hand crank. In larger forms, winches stand at...
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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Shipbuilding EngineeringHarbin Engineering UniversityHarbinChina

Section editors and affiliations

  • Liping Sun
    • 1
  1. 1.Harbin Engineering UniversityHarbinChina