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They require a person on the bow to move a lever back and forth. The motion is converted to rotation and the windlass winds the anchor rode up from the bottom. There is a brake on the windlass. If you release the brake the anchor and rode will drop off the boat and the anchor will head for the bottom.
Pretty straight forward.
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I gave the manual windlass away and installed a Lewmar electric 1000 with 20ft 5/16 chain and 200ft 8plait rode rope. COntrol at wheel and anywhere but especally on bow a remoter . Also a Aluminum anchor on bow roller. Slick system now.