I used your comments when I pulled the boat this fall and still
wasn't able to get it all the way forward. When I was in the water
pulling up the slack, I couldn't get the boat all the way to the
front of the trailer. Part of the problem was that the ramp seemed to
be steep and the back of the boat would float, pushing the bow too
low to front of the trailer. So I winched it as tight as I could and
pulled it up the ramp until the bow no longer floated too low. Of
course, then I couldn't winch it forward because it was too far out
of the water. I backed back into the water again for a second try
with the same results. So then I tried your second technique of
getting a little speed and then slamming the brakes. The boat didn't
budge with three attempts (and some strange looks from others around
the boat ramp). So I gave up. I put all the gear in the front of the
boat and was able to drive home at about 50 mph. But I know it should
be farther forward.
Since I leave the boat at a slip all summer, I've only pulled it onto
the trailer twice. But I'm frustrated that I haven't been able to get
it right, and it also causes me to be a bit nervous driving. Do you
(or anyone else) have any comments or suggestions?
It is very important that you get the boat all the way forward onto
the trailer before you start driving down the road. Having it sit
too far back will cause the tongue weight to be too low and will
cause high-speed trailer instability. Also, the boat is not sitting
in the correct spot on the bunks. The hull may not be properly
supported, which might damage it.
If the boat ramp is so steep that you can't winch the bow all the way
up to the bow roller, then you need to submerge the bunks more so
that the bunks don't rub so hard.
Regarding moving the boat around on the trailer, first check that the
following things are true:
- The hull & bunks are still wet. If you let them dry out, movement
is nearly impossible.
- The keel is not fouled up hard on some part of the trailer.
- There are no restraining straps or ropes attached which would
prevent forward movement.
If you've checked all these things, then gradually increase your
speed a few MPH at a time and SLAM on the brakes. After the car
stops, walk back to the trailer winch and take up the slack. Do not
be timid and repeat as necessary. Eventually, the boat will slide
forward on the trailer. I suggested 10 MPH because that speed has
always worked for me.
S/V Dynamic Equilibrium
Pamela and I used the Fred and Mary Lou technique several times with
very good results. They were dry sailors and launched and recovered
many more times than most of us. To review:
Bring the boat up as far as it will come. We usually have about 6" of
the support bunks showing. If we submerge the bunk all the way, the
boat floats all over as you mentioned.
As one person drives and pulls v-e-r-y- slowly, a second person can
crank the winch as the bow comes down from on high. We would move
maybe a foot and crank, then another foot and crank and so on. The
result the last time we pulled the boat was that the boat was against
the stop all the way forward, which I felt was too far forward and we
backed her down again and let the boat slip enough to allow the bow
stop to be moved 4" from the post.
This method works well for our Triad trailer and the R22. As I said,
we had the boat all the way forward with no space between the bow
stop and winch support post. That probably would be fine, but I think
it might give excessive tongue weight at that point.
It seems that the launch and recovery procedures might be different
based on the trailer. My old Rhodes had a 1987 Triad that was not as
difficult to recover and launch as the newer (1996) Triad that
supports Blue Daze. I don't recall anything major in the way of
differences, but there was something different. It might be that the
older trailers let the boat sit a bit lower to the ground than the
I've had the same problem as Carol, the last time with Elton
participating in the recovery. The problem seems to vary depending
on the angle of the boat ramp. If it's a relatively steep ramp, the
stern (floating on the water) is somewhat high above the submerged
rear of the trailer, while the bow eye is below the level of the bow
stop. (Try to picture the boat level, floating on the water, while
the partially submerged trailer is on an angle with the rear very low
and the front very high.) This makes winching the boat beyond a
certain point nearly impossible, since the winch strap cannot pull
the bow eye straight forward without going up and over the bow stop.
Wow, what an honor to have a technique named after us! It is, however,
patented so you can send the royalties to...
Glad to hear it works for others but I truly believe that you have to
adapt the technique (ours or others) to the ramp. The ramp at
Bowley's is relatively steep which is one of the reasons we developed
the (ahem) Fred/Mary Lou technique. For the last haulout of this year
the tide was way WAY out. We could drop the centerboard and have it
hit bottom long before it was fully deployed. With the tide that far
out the angle of the ramp was not nearly as steep as usual. We've
never used the tongue extender at Bowley's and didn't this time but we
could have, as the tailpipe of the Blazer was bubbling away. We normally
have the bunks just breaking the surface of the water. This time, with
the Blazer backed as far as we could without it drowning (or giving up
and actually using the extender) the best we could do was leave about 6"
to 8" showing. Fred was able to winch it all the way forward because
the angle was less steep. We did take up a little slack as we pulled her
out but not nearly as much as usual because the stern was already mostly
supported by the bunks.
We've marked the ideal position of the bow support with a bit of red
paint. We were right on the money this time and could really tell the
difference trailering her home. She was only about an inch and a half
further forward than she was last year but what a difference it made
in the ride. We also took the rudder off and stowed it in the car and
took the anchor out of the lazarette to lighten the load aft.
Now that we are taking a slip I guess we'll get out of practice.
After several attempts I have settled on the following technique I
have used for both shallow and steep ramps. I have a twin axle Triad.
For a shallow ramp, I use the excellent extender and back the
trailer in until just the front of the bunks are showing. I use a
dock line to pull the boat up as far as possible and then (using aqua
shoes) wade in and attach the strap. I have adjusted the front
rubber stop as far forward as possible. I then winch the boat up
until the eye on the bow is even with the stop. After pulling the
boat out of the water, I find that I can move the stop back about
half way to meet the bow. The balance of the boat while trailering
is very good.
I do the same on a steep ramp without the extender. I hope this is of
I just took Windswept out of the water for the season today and
decided to try Roger's method. Incidentally, I think Stan recommends
a similar procedure. I too have always had trouble getting the hull
far enough forward. The problem is that no matter how far forward it
is, since the stern is floating, it settles back on the bunks when
the trailer is pulled out. This puts almost the entire weight of the
boat on the winch. I've snapped a number of straps as the boat
Anyway, Roger's technique went flawlessly. With my wife sitting in
the truck, I motored onto the trailer, attached the strap, tightened
the winch, shut down the motor and signaled for my wife to pull her
out. The only problem was the aforementioned settling back.
In rereading Roger's procedure, I think the difference is that he
specifies more bunk out of the water than I am used to leaving. With
powering on, the trailer can be higher in the water, allowing less
settling. I had left about 3 inches today, but by the time I got
back to the boat, started the motor, cast off and go to the trailer
the rising tide had almost completely submerged the bunks.
Anyway, with the motor and gas in the stern, it swayed at 50+ mph.
The trip to the winter storage location will be without motor and
tanks so it should be ok.
We have exactly the same issue with Fretnaught, as well as New Song,
Chickie Babe, and (I believe) Blew Daze. We all have used the Fred/
MaryLou technique or variants with great success.
Essentially what happens is that as the driver pulls up a few feet,
the bow eye will pull backward from the bow stop as it raises past
the bow stop (as the stern lowers onto the bunks). If you stop and
crank it in every couple of feet when pulling it out, you can limit
how far back the boat will move. In Alex and New Song's case, we
were able to limit this slip A LOT!
It is a bit hard to see, but check out the picture at http://pathfind.
net/rhodes22/pics/recovery1.jpg. The boat is against the bow stop,
the bow stop is as far forward as it will go, and the bow eye is
above the bow stop. You can see the results at: http://pathfind.net/
The only deviation in the procedure was that we did it twice: once to
get the boat into good position, then (without loosening the strap)
Glen backed her into the water again and I cranked whenever I had
some slack to get that little extra tension. We should have stopped
with the first time. We had New Song so far forward that John Ward's
van was a bit nose high because of all of the tongue weight.
FYI, that is me on the trailer tongue, Glen was driving my Jeep for
the recovery, John is making sure that his motor and rudder don't
drag when Glen pulls it out, and Alex and Doreen are supervising. We
found the Jeep to be the perfect vehicle for launching/recovery,
because the short wheelbase and good view make backing and
maneuvering a breeze. The longer wheelbase of John's van is better
for highway towing.
No guarantees, but I hope this helps.
The geometry between the trailer's bow stop & the bow eye on the
boat does indeed change as the boat is brought out of the water & the
stern of the boat stops floating & starts getting supported by the
trailer. This changing geometry is another reason to use a HD
secondary restraining device one the bow eye. My trailer winch uses
a steel cable. I have found it is difficult to get all the slack out
of the cable as it is wound onto the winch drum. As the boat is
pulled out of the water, this winch cable will come under a lot of
strain that will tend to pull any slack out, thus allowing the bow to
shift backwards up to several inches. A HD secondary restraining
device will prevent this & keep the trailer bow stop & the boat's bow
eye together as the trailer comes out of the water.
Another thing to check is whether you have your keel rollers adjusted
properly. The majority of the boat's weight needs to be resting on
the keel rollers & not on the trailer bunks. Try This Test:
With the boat centered fore/aft & side-to-side on the trailer & the
trailer sitting level on flat ground, try to move the keel rollers.
If you can budge them even slightly, then too much of the boat's
weight is resting on the bunks. If you can see any deformation in
the hull where it is resting on the bunks &/or if you have any
trouble opening & closing lockers & hatches in the cabin, this is
also diagnostic of this problem. The sliding cabinet doors under the
galley countertop are particularly sensitive to this problem.
If the boat is not centered on the trailer, then using hydraulic
jacks and blocks of wood, carefully move it around & get it centered.
With the boat centered on the trailer, loosen up the 4 bolts on each
keel roller & slide the keel roller assembly up until it is in
contact with the keel. Tighten
up the 4 bolts. Mark the height of the keel roller assembly on the
trailer. Do this with all the keel rollers (my trailer has 2 keel
roller assemblies). Now put the boat in the water. Go back to each
keel roller, loosen up the 4 bolts, slide each one up 3/4" relative
to the marks you made earlier, and retighten the 4 bolts. While you
are working with the keel rollers & the boat is not on the trailer,
check to be sure the keel rollers turn freely. If they don't turn
freely, then grease the keel roller axles or replace as required.
Now try recovering the boat using the procedure I described in my
earlier post & see if it's not a whole lot easier than before!
S/V Dynamic Equilibrium