R 22

Rhodes 22


Boat Recovery

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?

s/v Painkiller

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.

Roger Pihlaja
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 newer ones??


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.

Paul G.

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.

Mary Lou

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 help.

Rich Rugen

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 settles back.

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.

Dave Walker
s/v Windswept

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/ rhodes22/pics/group1.jpg.

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!

Roger Pihlaja
S/V Dynamic Equilibrium

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