R 22

Rhodes 22


Boat Recovery Problems

From your descriptions of your boat recovery problems, it sounds like you are both doing something wrong. I recover Dynamic Equilibrium single-handed.

The amount of trailer bunk left exposed out of the water is the key:

Shallow slope on launch ramp, little or no cross wind/current, calm sea:12"

Add 2" more exposed bunk for each condition:

steep launch ramp
cross wind >10 knots
cross current > 2 knots
waves 1-3'

Thus, a situation with all of the above conditions would call for 12 + 8=20" of exposed bunk.

If there are waves > 3', the recovery will be difficult at best. Leave about 24" of bunk exposed. It helps to have a couple of helpers with stern lines in this situation.

Note: Your boat & trailer may behave slightly different than mine, but the concepts & conditions to look for will be the same.

Use the exposed trailer bunks as your target. Approach the trailer at a slow walking speed, about 2 knots.

Note: This is faster than dead slow. You need a little momentum for this manuever.

Note: This is no time to be timid!

Center the bow in between the exposed bunks. Your momentum will carry you up onto the exposed bunks, slow you down, & the bow will come to rest against the bow stop. If the stern of the boat wants to drift sideways in either direction, then you didn't leave a sufficient amount of trailer bunks exposed. Rather than try to play out a bad situation, put the engine in reverse, back off the trailer, adjust the trailer position, & try again.

Now, leave the engine idling in gear, lock the tiller in center position, & disconnect the gas line from the engine. If there is a strong cross wind/cross current, then turn the engine slightly so the thrust offsets the wind/current. Quickly walk to the bow, step off onto the trailer (here a welded-on platform might be nice), hook up the bow eye to the trailer winch, & winch in the slack. The boat will not have to be winched in very far. As waves tend to lift the stern, the thrust from the motor will push the boat forward, "taking up the slack". Keep your body pieces/parts out of the way of the boat & winch during this operation. Eventually, the motor will use up all the gas in the carburetor & stall. Lock the winch & install a secondary restraining device. I have a piece of 1/2" rope that I use as a secondary restraining device to hold the boat against the bow roller if the winch should fail.

Now, get into your tow vehicle, pull the boat trailer up the launch ramp, & drive immediately to the derigging area. If the boat is not centered on the trailer, then push hard from either side at the stern You will find that the boat can be rocked back on center. If the boat is not all the way up on the trailer, then accelerate your car up to about 10 MPH in a straight line & SLAM on the brakes. After you are stopped, walk back to the boat & winch in the slack. Repeat as necessary. These adjustments should be done as soon as you get the boat up on level ground. Do not allow the hull & trailer bunks to dry out or you will not be able to move the boat on the trailer. With everything wet & slippery, these manuevers don't harm a thing.

I usually don't attempt to balance on the trailer tongue while I'm winching in the boat. It's too easy to slip & fall. I suppose a welded platform on the trailer tongue would be nice, but I still think you'd get wet feet. I'm not in the water more than a couple of minutes at most. I usually wear water shoes. My recovery procedure doesn't take any longer than any other 22' boat & I'm in & out faster than most, even single-handed.

Roger Pihlaja
S/V Dynamic Equilibrium
Oct 30, 2000

Carol & Everybody Else Having Trouble With Boat Recovery:

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 which 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 & 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 assemble 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, & 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
Nov 02, 2000

We have launched and retrieved boats all over the country and never met a Rhodes 22 I could not pull out or launch with a Rhodes trailer - and imagination:

General rules: Bury trailer so front edge of bunks is just at water level. Always use the extension tongue. Have the bow socket bar as far in (towards the car) as it goes. Have the winch strap out far enough to be able to reach the boat bow eye with the boat about 2 feet from its final trailering position and the winch ratchet set in the in direction. Lower the centerboard. motor, sail or walk and then winch the boat all the way to the retracted socket on the trailer. This space will automatically open when boat and trailer become parallel.

IF the ramp is too short but has no drop off at its end and the ground beyond the ramp is acceptably solid, disconnect the trailer from the car so the car's rear wheels do not have to go in water and use a stout line from trailer ball to trailer bow post. Keep everyone away when pulling trailer since a breaking rope can be deadly.

IF ramp is usable but low water does not allow boat to come far enough forward onto trailer, you have to decide whether the boat can come on trailer far enough so that the trailer will not be coming out with negative tongue weight. With boat out of water and on trailer but now too far aft, there are three ways we have moved boat into forward trailering position:

  • a) On a down sloping road, apply breaks making sure there are no tailgators in back. Boat slides easily forward on wet bunks.
  • b) Lower forward jack (and, if necessary, jack up back of trailer) so bow is down and winch boat forward with trailer winch.
  • c) Placed a spare tire against a tree and back boat into the tree - it works or the tree falls over.
If you are in a marginal condition in getting a floating boat far enough along the trailer bunks and cannot move trailer further down an ending ramp, you could invest in a much heavier trailer winch and use the greater mechanical advantage to move the semi free floating boat to the trailer bow socket.

IF you are using a ramp that has a drop-off at its end, wait for high tide. The 15" trailer wheels can jump up onto a ramp that is maybe 6" thick but if the drop-off is deep enough the cross member of the trailer frame will hit it before the wheels and nothing will get that trailer back on the ramp short of going into the water and lifting it back on or running a line under the frame and lifting from parallel side piers.

All else failing, I like MM's floating trailer idea or come sail the tideless and steady as she goes (I have not seen more than a 2' water level variance in 13 years) Albemarle.

29 Oct 2001

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