As I have gotten older, I have found that I am having more difficulty cranking my genoa winches to properly trim my boat’s headsails. The challenge is greatest in the position where I have the least strength, when the winch handle is outboard and farthest away, particularly when the boat is heeling as we sail to windward. My response has been to remove the winch handle and reposition it where I have more power.

I could replace my old Barient single-action winches with more modern double-action winches, but this would cost more than I want to spend. While pondering better solutions, I thought there must be ratcheting winch handles that could be cranked either way in small increments. I looked around in some marine consignment shops but was told that ratcheting winch handles haven’t been made in many years, and if I could find one it would be pretty pricey.

So, I went to plan B, which was to create my own for fewer than $10. I noticed that a male, square, 5/8-inch driver fits into the standard winch socket. While looking for one of these in my local hardware store, I found ½-inch to ¾-inch socket adapters to use in ¾-inch sockets with a ½-inch socket wrench. I bought one and used a grinder to shave off 1/16 inch on each side and then finished it off with a hand file. It took me about 15 minutes.

While it isn’t perfect, it fits reasonably snug and lets me crank my single-action winches with much less effort. It also works wonderfully on my two-speed winches, since the ½-inch socket wrench driver has a forward and reverse! Problem solved!