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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I'm downsizing my thinking as I'm looking for my first sailboat. Instead of the 24'-27' range that I planned to keep at the marina and only haul out as needed for maintenance, I'm looking at trailer sailers that are easy to tow. As it stands now, my truck is not set up for towing: no hitch, no wiring. What is/are the most common ball size(s) and what is/are the most common electrical connections for trailers that I'd find with 18'-22' boats?

I'm downsizing to keep my annual costs down and stay flexible in case (when) I get laid off.
Mike
 

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typically a 2" or 2 -5/16 ball Some two inch balls are good to 6000lbs, but some are only rated to 3500lbs (most heavier trailers come with a 2-5/16 ball to keep morons from slipping a 6000lb trailer on a 2000lb hitch just because the ball is the right size)

A reese type hitch will allow a flatter towing angle because the mount itself is lower, and you can use a drop insert, which means you can lower the trailer toungue by 6-8 inches easily. It makes it easier to launch and retrieve the boat if the trailer sits flatter in the water

Most step bumpers are limited to 3500lbs, and sit a lot higher than a reese type, so the boat has to be winched up hill to put it on the trailer right.

Reese type hitches do cost more, and are a bit more involved to install, but well worth it in my opinion.

Electrical connectors are a matter of choice, the most common type you'll see though is the flat 4 conductor type. A whole vehicle/trailer harness generally sells for under $20 in the flat style.

I've owned a lot of trailers, and only one was picked up with good wiring, so be prepared to swap it out.


Ken.
 

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MHB,

Lots of trailer sailors in the 24-27 foot range that are easily towed. We tow our 26 footer nicely with our Envoy or F150pickup. They will require a little heavier hitch equipment but probably not significantly more expensive to install. If the smaller boat fits your needs better, by all means go that way, but don't rule out a bit larger boat because of towability. BTW, where ya at in Oregon?

Doug
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I'm in Lebanon and work in Albany. I plan to do most of my sailing in and around Yaquina bay.

I only have a Mazda B2300 to tow with right now but could upgrade to a heavier truck to match whatever boat I get. I would prefer to keep a boat at the marina and not have to truck it around. Marina rental does include shower, hot tub, swimming pool. I still have to drive to the coast to sail, but I don't have to pull the boat along with me.

I just want to get my truck prepared so if I do find a boat that I want on a trailer, I can buy it and pull it home.
 

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Mike,

Is your pickup's rear bumper in pretty good shape? that is, is it factory installed, tightly bolted on and ready for a ball? If so, you can probably drag her home with your pickup alright and worry about a more suitable match later if you have to. You might just as well wait to see exactly how the trailer is set up before you rig your truck for lights and ball. You can get simple wiring pigtails at an automotive parts stores to wire your truck for whatever the trailer requires. Like Ken said, you'll more than likely be re-wiring your trailer anyway. Seems like that's always the way it works when I buy something. What is the name of the marina over in Yaquina Bay? I'd like to see what it's like. We sailed last summer on Fern Ridge in Eugene. Good sailing with a couple of nice (and inexpensive) public marinas. That would be a little closer than the coast for you. Oh wait, never mind, you wouldn't be able to go to Mo's for clam chowder after a hard day of sailing!! Anyway, have fun looking for your "right" boat. If you need someone to take a "pre" look at something down our way give me a shout.

Doug
 

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Just a Sailer
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IMHO Definitely get a hitch that attaches directly to the frame and rated for a minimum of 5000 lbs. This way you won't be limited to hauling distance or areas. To be on the safe side buy a trailer brake controller, and with that a nine pin hook-up for electrical brakes. (I believe nine is the minimum for brake circuitry) Anyway... something to think about.

Steve
 

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Poltergeist
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Cart before the horse?

Hi, MtHopeBay --

While there's nothing wrong with any of the advice you've been given, you may want to tighten up your boat wish list before you go making any modifications to your vehicles. I'm saying that because you said you were DOWNSIZING your ideas to 18 to 22 feet, so the ability to tow 5000 or 6000 pounds may be way more than you need. When you say "trailer sailer" in that size range, I hear something like a Flying Scot (boat AND trailer 1500 pounds) to a Catalina 22 (at about 2500 pounds).

I'd decide on a boat first ... then rig your vehicle accordingly.

Good luck.

Kurt
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
thanks, everybody. I think I'm getting the idea. I haven't looked at many boats with trailers yet and didn't pay much attention to the trailers when I did. I'll be looking more closely in the future.

My truck is pretty light duty and all I've towed with it is a friend's Geo when he broke down. The bumper hitch doesn't look like a bumper with a hole in it for a ball. It looks like a hitch with a bumper wrapped around it. It has a heavy plate/bar in the bumper that has braces going from it to the frame. Not just the bumper bolted to the frame.

Izzy1414:
Yaquina Bay has a big public marina on the south side of the bay with a nice ramp and good facilities. On the north side is the marina at Embarcadero resort. There's no ramp at the Embarcadero but if you rent a slip from them you also get a pool, hot tub and showers. We're looking to join the Yaquina Bay Yacht Club and take advantage of all the experience that they have. They have a pretty active racing schedule from the spring through the fall and weekly cruise-ins.

I sent you PM regarding your offer to look at boats in your area. Thanks.
 

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MHB,

Good advice given here. Although I have no firsthand experience, I have been advised to avoid electric or surge brakes on a boat launching trailer. They may become more trouble than they're worth after repeated dunks in the water. Your need for trailer brakes may also depend on the type of traffic you'll be dealing with. If you can take it easy and leave lots of space in front of you, you should be fine without. Also, don't forget to unhook all electrics before submerging the trailer. I think poltergeist gives good advice. Your truck should be fine for some of the smaller boats he mentions. To any new sailor, I would recommend careful consideration of boat size, not just for the towing issues: boat maintenance will probably cost you more than you think. Please don't mistake this message as discouraging you. In the two plus years that we have owned our boat, we have spent way more money than we expected, and never regretted it for a second. Good luck on your search.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks, Farmboy, for the advise. I'll take any I can get. I am pretty cautious with anything new that I do. I use check lists. I'd probably take a boat and trailer to a nice steep hill I know and make sure I can back down and pull out before I got near a boat ramp. I don't like surprises.
 

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Surprises, eh?!

Here's one for you. We used to launch/haul with our trailer. 2 years ago, the water in Lake Ontario was very low and we didn't launch until mid season because of work on the boat. The boat came off the trailer and everything was fine until we tried to bring the empty trailer out. The water was so low that we had backed the trailer off the concrete of the boat ramp, and the trailer was hung up on the concrete ledge of the ramp. Luckily, a friend of mine who was there is a good swimmer and knot tier. He swam down with a line and tied a bowline around the axle. We put all the bystanders to work hauling on the line as we tried to drag the trailer out. Fortunately, it worked. Now I book crane time :) . So before purchasing, I would go to the ramp you plan to use and just watch, especially if some one is launching a trailer sailer. It will help you anticipate some of the pitfalls of that ramp. Also, Sharks displace 2200lbs, so the trailer is fairly beefy. I would imagine it weighs over 1000 lbs, so you may be dealing with something a little smaller and more manageable.

Here's a good pic of how the boat sits on the trailer:

(Just Imagine there are pads on the trailer. We're working on the bottom in this pic.)

As you can see, because of the fin keel, I need quite a bit of water depth to launch. I have had some people tell me that it's feasible to sail a Shark off a trailer to save on docking. I wouldn't dream of it. Some sort of retractable keel would be a must in my mind. Then you would need less depth for launching/hauling.

Also, stepping the mast is a consideration. I was told before we bought our boat that we could step the mast with two people. I've never tried it and I never will. I use 4 people. One on the jib halyard winching, one standing in the cockpit lifting, and one person on each side of the mast to prevent swinging.

Edit: One other factor at the boat ramp is traction. Ramps can get kind of greasy/slimy, so you may want to have a heavy weight around to jump on the bumper while hauling the boat out. I've used this trick to get trucks moving in the snow.
 
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