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A winch is a machine that is used to wind up a rope. In its simplest form it consists of a pulley and attached crank. More elaborate designs may have gear assemblies or electric drives.

Besides industrial applications (e.g. in cranes), winches are used for towing cars, boats, or gliders. There are several winches on almost every boat or ship where they are used to pull anchor or mooring lines, halyards, and sheets.

The rope or cable is usually stored on the winch, but a similar machine that does not store the rope is called a capstan.