Flat-bed trailer & keel boat: cradle, supports or bunks?
I've just bought a 22 ft fin keel Abbott 22 (see sailboatdata.com) and am considering using a cradle or stands or wedge stands on a flat-bed trailer, for both winter storage and launching. I may have found a suitable flat-bed tandem axle trailer at a good price.
The trailer with the Abbott in the photos below is shorter than the one I'll be looking at; I figured the frame overhang at the rear (stern end) of the trailer I'm looking at could be cut back as necessary to end the trailer frame at the transom, assuming that the boat's CG is located somewhere between the tandem axles to give proper hitch loading. Any comments on shortening the frame like that? How long is a good length re transom?
Is there any consensus of opinion as to whether, on a flat bed, a cradle is more suitable than stands, jack or wedge, or even bunks? What are the opinions?
The Abbott in the photos appears to be on jack stands welded to the trailer frame. Is this feasible for launching, or would the boat have to be craned onto the trailer? Would a cradle be any different? Would bunks be better than pads?
I'd read a post by Hudsonian (from 2009) about Jowi cradles:
"Clearly there an imperfect market for cradles. Around here you can always buy a used Jowi for $300 but if you're lucky you can find an abandoned one at a yard that uses jack stands. A friend bought one for $50 delivered."
I hadn't heard about these cradles. I was wondering if anyone knows where such an area as is mentioned in Hudsonian's post, ('around here') might be - it would be affordable to find one abandoned in a yard! If it's not too far (from either Detroit or Buffalo, as I'm in Canada) I'd consider driving to get one - that's a price that can't be beaten! Always assuming that you can float the boat off.
All comments and advice gratefully received, and thanks in advance for your input.
Personally I would go with the mount a cradle to the trailer option. It is going to remove the ramp launch option though. If you shorten an existing trailer it can be a bit nice if it's still a bit longer than the boat. Always better to have the trailer hit something before the rudder/transon does.
Generally, boats that require a cradle or stands to sit on a flat bed trailer are not trailer launchable. Most ramps aren't deep enough to allow launching of a keel boat off of a trailer, especially a flatbed trailer with a cradle or stands attached, since that increases the height of the boat off the ground and effectively increases the depth needed to launch said boat. IMHO, they're not trailerable boats technically, they're boats that can be stored on a trailer and moved with a trailer.
Also, consider that trying to clear the cross bar on the trailer pictured would require another THREE feet of depth for the launch ramp--which just ain't gonna happen.
A flatbed trailer with cradle or a cradle trailer like the one shown are great to have since they allow you to transport the boat reasonably easily, but they WILL REQUIRE A CRANE OR TRAVELLIFT to get the boat on and off of the trailer. They're great for winter storage and for doing maintenance on the boat.
Most keel boats are not going to be ramp launchable. The ramps aren't deep enough, and if they were, the truck would have to be too deep in the water to be safe unless you have a fairly long tongue extension.
You could launch a boat with a keel like this, assuming you had an extendable tongue on the trailer, and a steeper ramp. Otherwise, as mentioned, you will need a crane something or other.
But a trailer like that that would work. an over the tire bed would be better for a bigger boat like you have. OR also as mentioned, something built into the frame and going up to the boat. Here is a link to my stepdads getting his boat he built off the ground, and onto his trailer. Boat is 9.5'wide. His trailer is similar to the one you showed, but a lot beefier as his boat is about 6-7000 lbs or there abouts. I would not want to tow this boat with a ford ranger, other than thru a yard to the launch "crane"
Thanks y'all for your replies and comments. :) I'm at the conclusion that a keel boat doesn't launch from a trailer without a lot of very careful planning and consideration, good luck and special circumstances!
@the hardaground - I agree most strongly that it's a good idea to keep the trailer just a little longer than the transom position, to protect the boat.
@sailingdog, you confirm my thoughts that I'd need a minimum of about 6 ft of water depth to float off the trailer. My first intended location for the boat was on a reservoir which can drop level in the late summer/fall. This might cause me to have to haul-out a month or so sooner than anyone else :( Not a good thing.
There is a club in the area, on Lake Huron, which although further away, brings in a crane for launch and haul-out. That would completely solve the issue.
I like the idea of bottom paining on the trailer (I know, I know it should be painting, but that typo seemed so appropriate ;) ) For this work, I think stands of some sort - jack or wedge - would make life easier than with a cradle. With three pairs one could temporarily remove one pair in turn to get at the areas covered by the pads. Could it be done if the trailer has two pairs only as in the photos, by removing one stand at a corner, at a time? Has anyone done this successfully? i.e. didn't drop the boat?
@blt2ski that was a really nice trailer, the type used by pro boat haulers. The open end would make life much easier, but requires very, very strong side arms - just look at the massive size in your photos! Not affordable for the rest of us with occasional use needs. :(
Has anyone heard about the 'Keel Hauler' trailer mounted crane? It's supposed to be able to lift up to a 30 ft/5,000 lb sail boat out of the water and onto its trailer! It's reportedly made by Brooks Sales & Engineering, of Chassell, MI. An Internet search found no website, but enquiries continue... I'd need a very great deal of reassurance before attempting this, but the idea sounds intriguing.
Thanks again for all your input.
there were two trailers shown, one is a professional boat hauler, the other was what was hooked up behind my pickup, a much smaller trailer. That one is available locally for around $4K custom built. The one behind the semi, not going to guess what that trailer runs, probably in the low to mid 5 figure thousand dollar range! The truck and trailer was probably around $100K+!
You should be able to find a trailer like the one you showed initially for under $3G new and or way less used.
Hi marty: way less than 3Gs sounds like my price range...
I just missed a 36 ft ex-house trailer (park model, superstructure stripped off, just the frame), with tandem axle & electric brakes, for $800! I figured a cradle on that, cut some bits off the back, and I'd be good to go. A friend of the present (now previous) owner bought it.
So it's doable for less than $2000 buying a new (cough, hack) cradle, and probably closer to $1000 if everything is used and just needs welding, or bolting together. I can paint.
@sailingdog - I didn't observe in the photos the horizontal bar running side-to-side across the supports at the front and back. Thanks for spotting this! I think this bar could be replaced at the back supports with a bolted bar, to be removed while launching. Additional support could be provided with sideways diagonal bars like the fore and aft bars between the supports and the trailer bed. Look at a Jowi cradle, there's adequate room to slide the keel out backwards between the supports.
Does anyone know where to find abandoned or even used Jowi cradles?
FYI, the boat in the photos I posted is for sale, and is located in Brockville, Ontario. I've emailed the owner to ask for details on the trailer, and will post what info I get back, if, as and when.
Removing the bar and putting a bolted on bar in its place is a bad idea. If you forget to tighten the bolts or replace the bar, the aft stands could easily spread and cause your boat to drop off the back of the trailer. At least with the bar there, if the stands spread, the boat won't move very far aft...
Thanks for the pointer sailingdog! I agree totally. I'm paranoid about either dropping the boat while parked and especially while working on it, or leaving it behind in splinters on the highway while driving :(
I'd prefer something that's not removable, and therefore it becomes impossible to forget to put it back, or tighten bolts properly etc. Nothing wrong with redundancy and preventative measures!
While a complicated gate mechanism with permanent pins on the bar dropping into holes on the frame could be done to 'prevent' forgetting to tighten or even replace a bolt, one still has to remember to put the bar back although hinging the bar might help there. (Getting way too complicated!) And while the bar's off, the possibility of spreading always exists. According to Murphy's Law, it will spread but not until you've dropped the trailer off the side of the ramp....
Triangular bracing across the back of the trailer would leave an opening of sufficient size for the keel to pass through, and prevent spreading of the supports, I think. All subject to proper design, of course.
The Jowi cradle would seem to be the answer. The 0.5 model has the capacity for the boat, with a length of 105 inches x 60 inches wide, and triangular bracing at each corner to boot! They're often made into trailers by attaching to a flat bed, I believe. This is the next larger Jowi, but same design:
Anyone know of a marina or yard with used ones 'for sale', or better yet, abandoned ones? I'm scouring craigslist, eBay, and thanks to Hudsonian some NY marinas.
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