SailNet Community banner
1 - 20 of 21 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
219 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Love my old 24 foot keelboat that I keep at the marina year round. But moorage is almost out of my budget. Also I think of simplifying - engineless, smaller, able to step the mast myself etc... So the boats I usually think of include Drascombe, Norseboat, Farrier Tramp, and the local Gig Harbor Boatworks lineup as well all of which would require a trailer with which I have zero experience. I occasionally read about the issues trailers run into with the bearings, seals, corrosion, electric etc etc.... How much of a headache is it though? For a small boat and a small trailer is it a hassle to maintain at all? Being able to drive down to the marina and be on the water fifteen minutes later is great, but maybe won't be a luxury I feel like paying for much longer. Any thoughts out there?
 

·
1968 Columbia 50
Columbia 50
Joined
·
580 Posts
When we had a trailer sailor, it took us about an hour to set up the rig and launch the same to break down, this was a Catalina 22. Was a pita, but it got us on the water. We kept the boat in our driveway, but that is something you have to consider, where to keep it. Trailer maintenance, we did that in the driveway as well, and that was convenient, to have it right there. We just rinsed the boat/trailer at home. We did keep ahead of maintenance issues, on things such as bearings. Many people trailer their boats, usually powerboats by a large margin, without any issues, until there is one.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
24,494 Posts
Axle bearings are the number one thing with the trailer itself. Especially, if you'll need to get to near highway speeds for any length of time. I just recently saw a poor guy on the side of the road, pacing around his trailer staring at the wheels. No doubt they started to squeal or something.

When I was a kid, some of of parents earliest boats were trailerable. Typically, just to the marina for the season and back out at the end. There was one year we launch off the trailer. Left mental scar tissue. Sometimes waiting in line. Not all launches or retrievals went perfectly, just like docking. Assessing set up, once in the water, can be highly variable by boat. It's totally doable, but one should really focus on having the right setup designed for routine trailer sailing, not just the technical ability to do it as an exception. BTW, the better the trailer the better the experience too: electric winches, separate brake systems, good rollers, anything to take away that feeling of not wanting to bother is worth it. They can cost money, but the big hunk of fiberglass sitting in the driveway unused is the biggest waste of money.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
260 Posts
Bearing buddies needed, grease everytime it comes out of the water (pushes the water out). Smaller wheels and tires turning higher RPMs for distance traveled. I found larger wheels and tires don't heat as bad. Surge brakes needed, not electric brakes but brakes will still be an issue, sealed LED lights not the old screw cover incandescent but lights will still be an issue. Finally ramps, in tidal water. The ramps are frequently not long enough to float a sailboat. (some are) so you need a hitch extension, so you can back off the end of the ramp into the mud which can and will cause other problems when you go to haul out (better on high tide). Now you are at a busy ramp with fisherman and you are trying to rig a sailboat, more issues and possible confrontations. I have been through all of this. Kept a trailerable boat one year. It was plenty. Not what you want to hear but my experience.
Now non-tidal, fresh water, nice long boat ramp, plenty of parking to get out of the way to rig, no overhead power lines (seen that happen), short commute, better day.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
4,898 Posts
I keep 3 boats on trailers 12-21 ft, have had other tralerable boats in the past. I trailer launch my boats with each use, with some exceptions where I leave the boats either anchored or beached for longer periods of time. Longest trailer for me has been ~5000 Km (~3000 miles) from Eastern Ontario to Key Largo and back in the winter.

I don't find trailer maintenance to be too bad, but I have had some issues. Trailer lights are a going concern. I carry a spare set of magnetic lights in case they act up on me after launch and recovery. I carry a spare tire. I lost the tread off an almost new (~4000 km) tire in South Carolina. Maintain your bearings with grease. This isn't hard to do, it's just a bit dirty but isn't hard and doesn't take long.

Overall, aside from lights, I haven't had a lot of issues, but have had a few. I get the premium CAA (AAA) that includes trailers and RVs.

Trailer maintenance for me for my 21 ft boat probably works out to $200/year. Some years the cost is zero, but I have replaced, wheels, bearings, tires, lights and of course grease. This is vs ~$4000-5000 for a slip around here, so the cost savings is huge.

Trailer maintenance can be an aggravation at times, but it's not that big of a deal. There are aggravations with keeping a boat in the water too.

The bigger issues with trailer sailers is rigging and launching. Crowded boat launches, low trees, shallow ramps and heavy complicated rigs and masts can all be issues. However, the solution to most of these issues is to go with a well designed, lightweight trailer sailer intended for launch use. I would want no part in launching a boat much over 1000 pounds on anything resembling a regular basis.

My Bay Hen is a good example of a well designed trailer sailer IMO. 900 pounds, I tow her with a Grand Caravan, including gravel launches. She has a 9 inch draft and I have a break back trailer with a strong winch, can pull her out from about 12 inches of water.

Mast is unstayed in a tabernacle and can be trailored with the sail on. Rigging takes 2 or 3 minutes. Boat can be in the water rigged from arrival in 15.

A couple of the boats on your list are probably comparable to my Bay Hen for ease of trailering; Drascombe, Norseboat.

The biggest mistakes I see people make when getting into trailer sailing is;

1) poor choice of boats. There were a bunch of heavy boats with heavy rigs designed in the 60s and 70s that were intended as trailer sailers and are often recomended as beginner trailer sailers , but are really not the best trailer sailers. Just too big and heavy. Light, shallow, easily stepped rigs are key.

2) poorly maintained trailers. If you start off with a rusty old trailer, you are always going to be playing catch up. Start off with something that has been well maintained and it's easier to stay ahead of the curve.

For me the pluses outweigh the negatives and are worth it. A few of the pluses as I see;
1) cost. Trailer sailing is a small fraction of the cost of keeping a boat in the water.
2) access multiple cruising grounds with limited vacation time. I sail multiple semi land locked lakes in my area on a regular basis, but can even be as far away as Florida or Cape Breton in a few days.
3) maintenance. Taking care of a boat in the driveway is just so easy. Boat is right infront of my garage with; air compressor, band saw, electric plane, table saw etc.

Here's a pic of my Bay Hen just a couple of weeks ago, this ramp would normally be a trailer sailors nightmare. Shallow to several hundred feet out. The ramp is damp river stone, covered in sea weed. There is a 1 knot cross current. Low hanging willow branches across the ramp means you need to step the mast and rig on the water and I am driving a front wheel drive mini van, but with the right combination of boat and trailer, it's all perfectly doable.

Water Sky Boat Water resources Vehicle

Water Sky Cloud Plant Tree

Sky Water Cloud Boat Watercraft
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
250 Posts
Love my old 24 foot keelboat that I keep at the marina year round. But moorage is almost out of my budget. Also I think of simplifying - engineless, smaller, able to step the mast myself etc... So the boats I usually think of include Drascombe, Norseboat, Farrier Tramp, and the local Gig Harbor Boatworks lineup as well all of which would require a trailer with which I have zero experience. I occasionally read about the issues trailers run into with the bearings, seals, corrosion, electric etc etc.... How much of a headache is it though? For a small boat and a small trailer is it a hassle to maintain at all? Being able to drive down to the marina and be on the water fifteen minutes later is great, but maybe won't be a luxury I feel like paying for much longer. Any thoughts out there?
=============================================
perhaps may need to split the question on two
1)short drive home to ramp
)longer range, highway driving

on 1)
No major issues, just learn to back up onto the ramp.
Hose down the trailer frame on return
grease the bearings with grease gun before launching.
Every few years replace springs and fenders that rusted.

On 2)
Total different story, major maintenance to be safe on HW.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
260 Posts
For me the pluses outweigh the negatives and are worth it. A few of the pluses as I see;
1) cost. Trailer sailing is a small fraction of the cost of keeping a boat in the water.
2) access multiple cruising grounds with limited vacation time. I sail multiple semi land locked lakes in my area on a regular basis, but can even be as far away as Florida or Cape Breton in a few days.
3) maintenance. Taking care of a boat in the driveway is just so easy. Boat is right infront of my garage with; air compressor, band saw, electric plane, table saw etc.


+ 1 on the advantages that are pointed out. Being able to trailer to say the Keys would be fantastic, great to work on the boat in your yard and trailer if maintained well will be much cheaper than a slip. But the negatives can quickly sour the experience.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
250 Posts
amen to that

+ 1 on the advantages that are pointed out. Being able to trailer to say the Keys would be fantastic, great to work on the boat in your yard and trailer if maintained well will be much cheaper than a slip. But the negatives can quickly sour the experience.

My worse experience was looking at a burned bearing on the trailer, stranded on the HW with my small kids on a hot summer day trying to find a repair shop!!
However, years later and more experienced trailered my Hunter 25 to Newport CA launched, and few hours later was in Catalina Island!!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,455 Posts
I have owned a number of trailerable boats. I do not find trailer maintenance to be a big deal at all.

You do need to watch the bearings, and repack them at least yearly. Easy enough to do yourself, or a modest expense if you pay someone to do it for you. If you are launching and retrieving in salt water, then you definitely want to hose down the entire trailer (axle and springs especially) with fresh water after every outing.

How hard, and time-consuming, launching and retrieving is really depends on the boat. That is why, for a trailerable boat, I strongly advise that you look for the smallest one that meets your needs, rather than the largest one that you can manage.

Good luck.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
4,898 Posts
I have done a few trailer sailing videos, but here is one specifically on my spring maintenance from 2018. The trailer is a 1986. I replaced a lot that year for just under $500 cdn. I haven't touched the wheels since except for annual greasing. I haven't touched the electrical except for covering the wiring harness with a baggy when not in use. Last year I replaced the winch and winch cable together for about $110 cdn.

I have been trailer sailing on and off since about 1992 and haven't gotten tired of it yet. I did own keel boats for several years, lost interest and went back to trailer sailing.

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
260 Posts
I have done a few trailer sailing videos, but here is one specifically on my spring maintenance from 2018. The trailer is a 1986. I replaced a lot that year for just under $500 cdn. I haven't touched the wheels since except for annual greasing. I haven't touched the electrical except for covering the wiring harness with a baggy when not in use. Last year I replaced the winch and winch cable together for about $110 cdn.

I have been trailer sailing on and off since about 1992 and haven't gotten tired of it yet. I did own keel boats for several years, lost interest and went back to trailer sailing.

Salt or Freshwater?
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
4,898 Posts
Salt or Freshwater?
I do both. Not much difference in maintenance. I try rinse after saltwater, fresh water I usually don't bother.

The OP is talking about small light boats. Gig harbors, Drascombes, Norseboats and the like. A lot of the maintenance items listed above are not needed for these boats. There are no tongue extensions, no surge brakes, no trailer brakes at all, or electric winches.

That's all gear for bigger boats. For the size of boats being discussed you could probably buy a brand new bunk trailer for well under $2k.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
219 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
The OP is talking about small light boats. Gig harbors, Drascombes, Norseboats and the like. A lot of the maintenance items listed above are not needed for these boats. There are no tongue extensions, no surge brakes, no trailer brakes at all, or electric winches.

That's all gear for bigger boats. For the size of boats being discussed you could probably buy a brand new bunk trailer for well under $2k.
Yes! Exactly. I think trailering a larger boat would not be my thing. I was wondering (and hoping) that a lot of the negatives weren't that significant for a smaller boat and simpler trailer. I'd be interested in anyone out there could offer any additional insight....
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
4,898 Posts
Yeah man, some of the boats you are talking about are like 300 pound boats. You can get away with pretty much anything with these boats/trailers. Any where any time. We use canoe portages to launch our 350 pound beach cat. You don't even need to put the axels or the bearings in the water for these small boats.

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
650 Posts
I used to have a 24’ Keelboat that I kept at a powerboat marina that put boats in an out with a forklift. It worked great. No launching and no bottom paint. They always launched the boat promptly when I wanted to use it and retrieved it quickly when I returned. I’d treat the guys to pizza and beer every so often. As I recall, it was about a third the cost of a slip and almost as convenient.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
219 Posts
Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I used to have a 24’ Keelboat that I kept at a powerboat marina that put boats in an out with a forklift. It worked great. No launching and no bottom paint. They always launched the boat promptly when I wanted to use it and retrieved it quickly when I returned. I’d treat the guys to pizza and beer every so often. As I recall, it was about a third the cost of a slip and almost as convenient.
Yeah, Shilshole marina here in Seattle has an area for boats to be kept on trailers. There's some kind of motorized dolly thing to pull the trailor and then a crane that tenants use to splash and retrieve their boats. I'm sure its cheaper and I've thought about doing that. As an aside, I tried to figure out what the most seaworth cartop-able sailboat would be and I bought a Triak a couple years back. I actually like it a lot, although like trailering, it takes some energy to put it up on the rack, drive it, take it down, rig it and go. So I don't use it as much. And just on Lake Washington so far. I've had it out in over 15 kts but what concerns me about the puget sound is the occasional massive breaking wake from container ships. At least the Triak isn't an open boat, but the ama/akas are not the most robust let us say.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
24,494 Posts
some of the boats you are talking about are like 300 pound boats.
Got it now. That point was lost on me. Much easier proposition. My motorcycle weighs more than that.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
260 Posts
Yes! Exactly. I think trailering a larger boat would not be my thing. I was wondering (and hoping) that a lot of the negatives weren't that significant for a smaller boat and simpler trailer. I'd be interested in anyone out there could offer any additional insight....
I too had not done any research on that kind of boat. They are interesting but not for me or the area that I sail on the lower Chesapeake (before you say it) in type of wind and sea condition that I like to sail in.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
4,898 Posts
Here's another one of my small boat trailers (I have 4 boat trailers and a travel trailer lol).

This one is a 2005 Cradle Ride. Looks and pulls like new. This trailer also doesn't even need to go in the water. Wheels go to the waters edge, lift the bows onto the rollers and just pull the boat up onto the trailer. Note, the trailer came with a winch, but nobody has bothered to install a cable in the last 16 years. No winch needed for this boat, even for dry loading. This boat is car toppable too by the way, but would be quite a lift. All I have ever done with this trailer is air in the tires and grease in the bearings. That's it, not bad for a 16 year old trailer.

There is a storey behind this boat and trailer. Somebody posts on community sailing group on FB. "Any one able to take a free Hobie Cat and trailer off my hands?". I am never one to pass up a free boat, so I messaged to find out what the catch was.

Well, the trailer hadn't moved in 5 years and the condition was "unkown". Not only that but it was way back in the mountains in Quebec about 50 km down a gravel road at a cottage at the bottom of a steep rutted hill. They insisted I would need a 4x4 to come get it. The weather had been dry and I figured my van would be up to the task. I have pulled lots of crumby trailers out of feilds and off beaches before, so why not give it a try.

Grabbed two spare trailer tires, my grease gun, my magnetic trailer lights, some ratchet straps, cable ties, licence plate, 12 volt air compressor and some tools and headed out for a road trip.

Sure enough, as described gravel mountain roads and a steep rutted driveway. But as I suspected, the Grand Caravan was more than up to the task. Started to inspect the trailer and it was perfect (except for the absence of a winch cable). Bearings were still well greased, tires a bit low. Plugged in the wire harness and the lights even worked!

Topped up the tires with air, added some grease for good measure and hauled it home. 3 hours later the free Hobie Cat was launched and sailing.

Cloud Sky Boat Wheel Vehicle
 
1 - 20 of 21 Posts
Top