advice from people with experience towing 30' boat - SailNet Community

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Old 09-01-2007
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advice from people with experience towing 30' boat

I may not be able to store my sailboat ( 30' LOA, 10' beam, 4'9" draft 8600lbs Disp) at the yard this winter, as room is tight, and based on senority.

I have a couple of choice:
1. Buy a well used (cheaper) tandem flatbed trailer and mount my existing cradle on it for a short tow (approx 10km) to a friends vacant lot for the winter. Still need to tarp boat, etc.

2. Buy a better, road worthy tandem flatbed (with new tires, bearings, electric brakes, etc), mount / weld existing cradle (and put in a couple of extra supports from the trailer to hull) and tow the boat about 3 - 4 hours on excellent divided highway, and then 1 hour on a hilly, twisty country road, to get to free indoor storage at a friend's large garage with a woodstove - I will be living only an hour away, so I could work on the boat this fall / winter.

My main concern around towing the longer distance is that the boat / cradle on a flatbed trailer would mean that the weight is probably a foot higher, than if a custom trailer was made with drop axles, etc.
I am looking to hear from anyone who has experience towing larger boats (30'range) on a cradle.. . Was the towing noticable tippy, bad, etc.
I have towed a 23' keelboat, weighing 2800 lbs, with a similar arrangement, and it towed fine.
I would probabvly use a 3/4 ton Chevy 2500 HD (tow capacity 10,600lbs)

I would consider paying a professional boat hauler, but I am not aware of any within a 4 hour drive, that can set a boat on stands from their trailer - I believe all the local ones require cranes, which can't get the boat inside a garage.
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Old 09-01-2007
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I had a sailboat shipped last year. Weight was not the issue. Height was the problem. First carrier used a "low boy" trailer and could not get my boat under the bridges. They even removed the bow spirit. They ended up bringing it back to the yard. I ended up hiring another carrier with a drop trailer. Even with that it still was a matter of inches on some bridges.
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Old 09-01-2007
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Freesail - How big - what type of boat was that?
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As Freesail has pointed out, height is going to be a problem. Most highways will have a clearance of 14' or so, but anything higher is going to be a problem.

What boat are you trying to move. I think going with the second solution is probably better, but it will be more expensive. However, I don't think it is all that feasible, given the height problems.

Given a draft of five feet, I would guess that the boat's height is going to be at least 10' from the top of the pulpit railings to the bottom of the keel. Add another two feet for the cradle and then another foot for the trailer and you're up to 15'. That will probably be a problem. Although you can probably clear many highway overpasses, local ones will probably be lower.

Try giving Brownell Systems a call. They may be able to move the boat using a large hydraulic lift trailer, which would allow them to lower the boat onto blocks and stands without the need for a crane. They're located in Mattapoisett massachusetts.
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Check the route your planning on taking to your friends place. You may get lucky. Be very sure. If there are no overpasses the trailer idea may end up being cheap storage for the winter.
The boat I moved was a 32 footer. Most overpasses are 13' 9'', I believe.
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At 8600#'s plus a trailer, plus whatever you put in that isn't counted in the displacement and you will be over the 10,600 capacity of your truck (most likely way over). Even if you risk it you could tear up your tranny and that would cost as much as hiring someone else to move it. Plus they will have insurance.

It is also 10' wide and that is over width for most states (I don't have time right now to check yours). That means you would need at least a follow car and maybe a lead car, oversize load signs, and possible permits.

With just those 2 problems it would be much wiser to hire it out. Not what you want to hear, but......

You could drive the route and see what overpasses are there and if there is a way around (up the ramp and back down the ramp) then when you call you could give them an idea of what it would take to move it.
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I will check the route to see if there are any local bridges. From memory, there are many overpasses on the highway portion, that I would have to go under, but I thikn I would be OK there. A guy had his 35' older C&C (almost 6' draft, I think) shipped down from Toronto to the Maritimes this spring, on a flatbed transport truck and cradle, and didn't have any issues on the highway.
On the local road, I don't believe you go under any bridges or underpasses, but I will check.

SD - I will do a rough boat measurment from the waterline up, add that to the draft, plus trailer height. My cradle is made so that the keel sits only about 4" up from where the bottom of the cradle would sit on the flatbed trailer. The "faltbed" does not have a bed, just the steel frame and supports. I think that the keel would be about 2 1/2 ' off the ground - but will measure tomorrow.

I would still like to hear from anyone who has towed this type of setup, with a fairly heavy (7,000 - 10,000 lb) boat, to see if it felt secure - or was very tippy, etc!!

Thanks for the replies!!
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IIRC, 14' is required by law for Interstate highways... believe the heights must be posted if they're less than 14'. BTW, in most states, loads wider than 8'6" require a wide load permit and accompanying paperwork and vehicles.
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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Last edited by sailingdog; 09-01-2007 at 09:14 PM.
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Is that the law in Canada too?
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SD - I did have a Northeast Maine boat hauler bring the boat to me, from below Cape Cod, to Fredericton, NB (3 hours N of Bangor). It was about $1800 US, and their trailer was able to pick it off stands, and put it back on them again. If any of the local boat movers here had that type of trailer, I would pay them to do it. (Am pretty sure they can't do it) However, to pay a mover to drive 4 hours to get the boat,m and then another 4 further to transport it, would, I believe be cost prohibitive.

Rewell - I figured that I would be maxing out the truck, but wondered if it would be OK, if we took it easy - mostly highway driving. I could pay someone to use a 1 ton, or more if necessary.

Cam - I think the law is pretty close to that here as well
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