After a winch mishap, on an boat that shall remain un-named, that resulted in a friend being whisked off to the hospital in the coast guard hover-craft to have his wounds stitched up and kissed better, I managed to summon my much-repressed motivation and actually tackle the task.
Greasing a winch that is well maintained is a relatively simple job and should only take a few minutes however, greasing a winch that has been ignored for a long time is really quite the process.
The cabin top winches had been neglected for long enough that it was very difficult to get the old grease off. In fact there was so much grease on the winch and it was so old that it had hardened and was effectively acting as glue... safe I'm sure! After much cursing and prying and grumbling I managed to get the winches apart. Inside I discovered each winch had broken pawls (The little flappie-things that click in to the teeth to prevent the winch from spinning backwards). I was clearly doing this service far too late!
Once I got the winches completely apart I attached them with a tooth brush and some degreaser. While this was a perfectly effective way to spending some time it really wasn't doing much to get the grease off of the winch. I opted to leave all of the components in a bucket of degreaser, go for a dock walk and watch other people work on their boat.
The degreaser worked very well. Miraculously I managed to keep all of the parts aboard and managed to get the winches back together with no "extra" parts left over. Once re-assembled I was shocked at how effortlessly they turned. I will certainly add this to my seasonal maintenance going forward!