Help in getting afloat


New member
24 Feb 2004
well.....this season I find my 20ft Bilge Keeled Voyager sitting high and dry on the mud flats just next to the Marina. I am nearly two metres too high for any tide to even reach my keel in the next 3 months, and my only option is to drag it down to the water level. Can anybody out there offer me advice, or tricks of the trade to make this as painless as possible for me?.

I have my stock of planks, spades, ropes and a few able bodied volunteers available to me.

Any advice is greatly appreciated.


Forget "muscles", "spades" and "volunteers" think "BIG TRACTOR" (and one with a hydraulic "bale lifter" on the front).


1. The ground is not wall-to-wall soft deep mud.

2. The ground is relatively flat in the direction of pull (i.e. no sideways inclines that can topple the boat and no severe dips that will "concertina" the boat and the tractor).

3. The distance to go is not excessive (i.e. less than a couple of hundred yards).

4. The bilge keel / hull joints are in good condition.

Then with:

Adequate strength ropes passed around bilge keels and back to the front of the tractor.


The tractor's hydraulic lift supporting and slightly "lifting" weight off the bow (and the forward edges of the bilge keels) via a belt under the bow or a rope to the bow cleat (check strength before using).

A decent sized tractor should be able to GENTLY (remember if it's a farmer driving the tractor that most of them can vandalise a rolled steel joist!) and SLOWLY (they also like to speed) tow the boat across a well laid mat of greased planks.

If it's at all "downhill" then you will need some form of brake at the back (i.e. a second tractor or a Land Rover) to stop the boat running on to the towing tractor.

If there is ANY sideways incline you will need a brace to the mast to prevent "toppling".

If it IS soft mud then - "When did you say the next high tide was due?"

Hope this helps.

Best regards :eek:)

Ian D