When I first bought my boat everything was rigged to the base of the mast including the main halyard. It took two people up there to raise it while someone else drove the boat and that was not going to work for me. The first thing I did when I got the boat to Houston was to install an electric winch, but those things cost $3000 and up. My best friend came up with the idea of having a jeep 4×4 winch on the cabin top to raise the halyard. This idea was about $700 and worked quite well. The only downside was that it took just as long to lower the sail as it took to raise it, because it was spooled on a drum. Once in a while there are times when you need the sail down quick and that was something I could not do.
Well the 4×4 winch worked for 6 years, but I want to replace it because it was starting to corrode and would fail at some point. I knew a couple boats that were using a Milwaukee 28 volt right angle drill with a Winchbit, which fits right into a regular manual winch. The whole set up cost around $400, so I figured I would give it a shot.
The first thing I did was to have a friend take me up and down the mast so I could move different lines around. I ended up taking the old spinnaker halyard out completely, move the jib halyard to where the spinnaker halyard came out the mast, switched the main halyard and topping lift at the top of the mast, and had the main halyard come out where the jib halyard use to be.
With all this I can say that I am quite please with the results. I hand raise the first quarter of the sail past where the battens will get caught on the lazy jack lines and then put the drill in place. I use the high speed direction on the winch until it stalls out and then finish in low gear. Seems like I can get the sails up in half the time as the old way and if needed I can drop it in an instant.
SO if you are thinking of powering your winches to raise your halyard this might be a great cheap alternative for you. Plus it has a built in back up called hand winching ;).