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  Topic Review (Newest First)
06-06-2013 04:14 PM
Re: Trailer extension or winch?

I probably should mentioned it earlier but these guys sell a nice ready made unit that just bolts on. Nothing you couldn't do yourself but it is nice. I actually think the price isn't bad either but shipping might be what pushes it back into DIY territory for me.

Extend a hitch boat and sailboat trailer hitch extensions
06-05-2013 11:19 PM
Re: Trailer extension or winch?

Couple things I should be clear about...
A) I launched my 25 foot fin keel boat without unhitching in Spring 2012... the back bumper of my Crew Cab Long bed truck was totally underwater (truck bed filling with water, back doors having water lapping at the door)... My poor truck... But it DID IT! It wasn't the right way though.
B) A Tongue extension (which I had on my Capri 22 trailer) should be extended on flatter ground if possible, then you can back down with it fully extended.. These are a VERY safe way to launch a sailboat (I never needed it with my wing keel 22), my back axle barely got wet.

I CANNOT use a tongue extension though (even if I wanted to modify my existing trailer that does NOT have one). Our ramp has a compound angle... it goes from 15 to 25 degrees JUST before we hit the water backing down.

Want complicated? We cannot raise a mast before we launch. There are trees ALL around our ramp... Want MORE complicated? Our ramp exits about 20 degrees from the paved ramp going down to it... so you back down straight, then turn 20 degrees, to back straight down the ramp.

Pushing on a string? UM... NOT sure what lightweight trailers you folks are using but mine is HEAVY! Probably pushing #1500. It's about as hard to get to sink down the ramp as dropping an anvil. NO WORRIES about it dropping back into the water. Key is get is straight before you back down. You have SOME control over angle it's just delayed when you turn (I am familiar with this feeling with a gooseneck horse trailer).

As for the "winch" I am assuming you folks are talking about a wheel jack or a dolly-jack? The wheels aren't really designed for ROLLING much. Hence the reason I put heavy duty pneumatic casters on my trailer, so it'd roll smoothly down the ramp (I have some tweaking to do to it, but it worked well)...

I am not saying DO what I do. The extensions are the BEST way to do this. If you HAVE to extend the tongue on the ramp... you will need to chock the wheels, and if you aren't sure if the boat is balanced on the trailer (then get a tiltable wheel jack, and mount it on the back of the trailer in case it might tilt. I would not roll back down the ramp with that jack down though. The better solution is to fix the unbalanced situation.

As for boats/trailers ALWAYS having a positive tongue weight... YOU ARE 110% correct! I have seen though, that people transport their sailboat with an outboard on, and some of the larger ones (9.9ish) can really throw off the balance of the boat/trailer (given the distance behind the trailer wheels)... that #85 or so can take you from #200 of positive tongue weight to negative tongue weight instantly. Many owners don't realize the motor mounts/transom isn't designed to hold the motor while towing! I'll also go out FURTHER on a limb... you will HAVE to have that 9.9 on the transom for the launch, so you might have to deal with negative tongue weight then!

For the record I don't launch and retrieve much either... I am just seasonal, but I'd love to have the option of pulling the boat to try out other waters. My goal is to make it so I could haul and go on a long trip with the boat/trailer, and although it'd be a LOT of work, I'd still like to HAVE that option. It's the only reason I am doing my best to design my launching/retrieving/mast raising so that I can do it myself. If I can get people to help I'll always use them. Safety is STILL number 1 priority.

Lubrdink - that's a pretty cool rig. THAT would work on our ramp (looks like you have casters on your extension).

Anyone see one of these used?
Hell Ya Hitch Helper
06-05-2013 08:42 PM
Re: Trailer extension or winch?

Here's my rig although I've never used it. The ramp at our marina is about 25-30 degres down to the water and the thought of unhitching my 3-1/2 ton boat on that angle while I extend and rehitch gives me the willies. Besides, I only do it once since I have a slip so I gladly pay the marina the bucks to launch, move, and tie in my slip Hats off to those of you braver than I.

06-05-2013 01:38 PM
Re: Trailer extension or winch?

Back to the OP original question.

A good extension beats a winch.
The nicest extension I have seen is a tongue that slides out of the trailer.
  • Stop on the level ground before the ramp
  • Remove the locking pin
  • Pull the extension out
  • Insert the locking pin
  • Then back down the ramp
  • Don't forget to use your parking brake
06-05-2013 01:24 PM
Re: Trailer extension or winch?

Yeah, that's just like mine.

And regarding hostilities at the boat ramp, I have no idea what you're talking about:

Another Sunny Day in New Jersey | Sailing Fortuitous

06-05-2013 01:00 PM
Re: Trailer extension or winch?

Easy peasy. We considered strap launching, but there were just too many negatives for us: attitude control, pushing on a string, wheel chock tango, and most of all, time spent on the ramp. Dunno about where y'all sail, but in my experience, boat ramps can be pretty hostile places. People behave badly there. They may have just spent five hours doing absolutely nothing, bobbing around on the water ... but two extra minutes waiting for the ramp makes them blow a vein in their heads. I can imagine how popular a sailboater fussing with wheel chocks and straps would be on a busy boat launch, oh, Sunday around 4 PM.

So we chose the rigid extension. It's smaller diameter but thicker wall than the trailer frame & takes a standard Class II hitch.


Gives us 7 feet extra distance. The tongue weight is a little higher on the flat but goes back to normal on the ramp. We get the mast up & boat all ready to launch. Jack wheel down. Chock trailer wheels, pull pin(s), drive forward seven feet, re-pin extension. Jack wheel up. Now we have an easy-to-maneuver, rigid, fast way to splash the boat.
06-05-2013 12:34 PM
Re: Trailer extension or winch?

Originally Posted by tschmidty View Post
So after that story, for your own safety, please disregard any and all advice from me regarding trailering and/or launching your boat.
I think we can all benefit from sharing ideas and experiences on threads such as this, and I appreciate your input. I have 2 sailboats on trailers and over the years I have developed a tremendous appreciation for forces involved in hauling boats down the road and launching them from all sorts of ramps. These days I just want to do it with minimum risk, even if it involves spending some extra money (which I truly hate to do in general). I try not to push my luck if I don't have to, because I believe we are all given a limited amount of it in life, and I want to save it for those truly worthy moments...
06-05-2013 11:36 AM
Re: Trailer extension or winch?

Originally Posted by tschmidty View Post
GFH, I guess your trailer and the boat lives at the ramp? Otherwise I think you skipped the steps about unhitching and chocking the wheels. So you are doing close to the same amount of futzing, just not at the ramp.
Yes, I guess my trailer and boat do live at (or very near) the ramp, and no, I do far less futzing. The boat stays at a marina with the mast up on the trailer and I don't trailer on the road that much, so I guess my situation is different from most people's. But I (and everyone else waiting to launch behind me) would still rather not have to mess around on the ramp if I could avoid it.

Some people have no choice (like SCHNOOL with his keelboat trailer, which is a much different animal), and I get that there are lot of ways to do it. Watching the ramp is kind of a pastime of mine though, and most of the spectacularly bad launches that I've seen involve the most spectacularly complicated rigs. There's just so much more to go wrong.

Good luck with whatever you figure out.
06-05-2013 11:21 AM
Re: Trailer extension or winch?

GFH, I guess your trailer and the boat lives at the ramp? Otherwise I think you skipped the steps about unhitching and chocking the wheels. So you are doing close to the same amount of futzing, just not at the ramp.

I actually agree that a trailer extension is the better way to go, just saying it is not the only way.

And KrissCross, really good point about the angle changing the weight balance. If it is properly balanced it *shouldn't* be a problem, but that could be a hairy situation if you unhook the coupler and the end pops up! Ask me how I know... where was that thread about boneheaded blunders again... My winch strap broke loading the new to me boat (knew I should have changed it) so I couldn't get the boat far enough forward, went to unhook the trailer because I couldn't drive it like that and I needed to get a new winch strap, really glad I didn't have my face in the way of the tongue and no one was underneath or behind when the rear of that trailer slammed down! I have since moved the axles and repositioned the winch post to balance things.

So after that story, for your own safety, please disregard any and all advice from me regarding trailering and/or launching your boat.
06-05-2013 10:34 AM
Re: Trailer extension or winch?

Originally Posted by Faster View Post
Another helpful thing to do would be to mount a ball on the front bumper for launching. With the extension deployed you'll have a better view of things.

btw.. I fixed your title.. it was either that or choose the wench....
I have done this when I had a big camper on the truck, works well, especially on narrow ramps. I have not used an extension but have seen many others do so very easily. I have also seen the trailer disconnect methods, many that turned out to be a dis-organized fire drill. The extension is bullet proof.

Paul T
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