Launching down a slipway

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Can anyone advise this first timer.......?

Seem the marina charge about £5/foot to crane in a boat but owning a trailer, would like to save some money and launch it down a nearby slipway.

The boat is 22' long, on a twin axle trailer. The slipway in question is nearby at Walton Bridge, anyone know it??? So, is the boat/trailer/slip combination suitable and anything I should be careful of?
 
G

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I do not know the particular slip but I did have boats on trailers for many years before going bigger. Having the boat craned in has some advantages as you avoid having to immerse the trailer hence saving corrosive effects on bearings, brakes, etc. especially in salt water.

Given the size of your boat, I assume that you have a 4 x 4 or something fairly powerful towing. My technique was on launching, reverse trailer into water but not car at all - all four wheels on dry land. Bear mind that in tidal waters, weed on slipways can be as slippy as ice. I would then attach a rope to the trailer and take a couple of turns of the rope around the tow bar. Apply trailer brakes and detach from car. Release brake and lower away gently on the rope. Generally around two turns will provide sufficient braking effect to allow slow pay out the rope but if you find it difficult, just loop another turn around the towbar. Do not forget to have another rope(s) secured to the boat for mooring purposes.

Once boat is floated off and secured, pull trailer out and all the way up the slip on the rope.

Recovering, I used the reverse but leave car at top of slip. Float boat onto trailer and wind on using winch. Pull the lot out and up the slip to the level using tow rope. It is a lot harder work for the car pulling the boat out and having it on the level to start with is a big help. Plus it will generally be dry or at least slippy weed free. Once she's up, hitch up the trailer at your leisure with no stress.

It goes without saying that you should make sure that the rope you are using for this purpose is well up to it - you can be talking several tons load here.

Basically this technique was self taught and learned after many attempts, most of them embarrassing.

One other little tip learned from bitter experience is to be aware of where the slipway ends. I have had an incident where the trailer fell off the end of the slip. Boat floated off OK but getting the trailer back was not easy as it sort of sits there with the wheels hooked over the end. We ended up with four of us in the water physical trying to lift it back onto the slip!

Good luck

Nick
 
G

Guest

Guest
Hmmm.....

Well, the slip is on the Thames at Walton, so no salt water and non-tidal. And the car is a 4x4 so I guess is up to it.

Now the 'rope trick' sounds clever and I guess you from having to immerse any part of the car. But the bit about about having the trailer fall off the slip is a worry. Anyone know how long the public slipway is at Walton, or indeed of any other suitable?
 

Scubadoo

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I think you are worrying too much, in my experience it is unlikely you fall off the slip, the only time where it could be a problem is at low tide. Therefore if you are worried then launch at high tide.

RM.
 

Scubadoo

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You mentioning about the trailer fell off the slip reminded many years ago about my experience of that. I had a really bad day that day, my outboard gearbox failed so had to be towed in, unfortunately the tow was to the nearest slip about 20miles from where my car was. Got a taxi to collect my car (look a little odd walking down the road in a wetsuit!) and then found on my return low tide - hence trailer off the slip. In the end waited for high tide, but before that happen my boat was next to a sluice-gate which opened and a load of metal junk bounced off the boat and scratch it badly.

PS. Glad I no longer do trailer boating, there were days where it was hard work. It is very easy in life to just walk to the marina and go - worth paying the extra cost (to a certain point).

RM.
 
G

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This is the problem in murky Southern waters - on the Clyde you can see the end of the slip because the waters are clean and clear. Mind you I still managed to drop the trailer off the end but that was because the tide was lowish and I was trying for the maximum depth before trying to persuade the boat off the rollers. On the non tidal Thames, I would not worry about the end of the slip as it will be built to accommodate most boats, including those with larger drafts than yours.

It is a real hassle all the same and unless you are relatively young and fit, get a marina berth somewhere. The simple act of walking down the pontoon and onto the boat means that you get a lot more boating done. It is nice to be able to take the boat to say the South of France but you can still do trailer sailing when you want to. For routine weekend boating though it becomes a bit of a pain. And you can guarantee you will have an audience when you cock it up and no one about when it all goes perfectly.

If you are new to the game, one further word of advice with the size of boat you have is get a little auxiliary engine - 10-15 hp should do it - on a bracket on the transom. Mine saved me being towed home several times. A sound investment, especially at a second hand price.

Nick
 

duncan

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I thought there was an a horror story article in a magazine a few years ago about that slip - trailer off the end etc? Or was it the tidal bit at Richmond?
Don't trust anyone - walk out on the slip until either it gets over your waist - in which case the boat will be afloat safely / or you have found the end of the slip - in which case you will be able to judge properly.
Regarding ropes etc - for fresh water just reverse it in until the boat floats off. Consider the issue of traction when recovering but again non tidal doesn't tend to have same slippery slip probs
 

lanason

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I saw an excellent launching a few years ago.
The Guy stopped at the top of the slipway and unhooked the tralier, drove the car forwards about 15-25 feet and tied a rope betweeen the car and boat. It was quite a firm rope but had a little elastic in it. He tied a rope from the bow of the boat and attached it to the winch point on the trailer.
He then reversed down the slipway quite fast so the trailer and boat went into the water, but not the car. He slammed on the brakes, the boat slid off, he then drove the car up the slip until the trailer was just in the water. He stopped the car got out and walked down the trailer put he hand out and the boat, which by this time had gone out on the rope and bounced back in, arrived into the palm of his hand.
Round of appluase from all watching !!
 
G

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Yep - an impressive sight! I call it the french method, having watched french fishermen do exactly that at Pointe De Trevignon. I think you need quite a steep slipway to to it, otherwise the boat just stays where it is!

But to get back to the point, you need "good intelleigence" about the slip you're intending to use, and there's nothing better than your own investigations (at least they're up to date and reliable) - also have a look at this:

http://www.boatlaunch.co.uk/Site_dataPage330.html

- You'll see that there's a drop at the end mentioned! This is fairly common on the Thames (I've fallen foul of them launching smaller boats than yours) - but they're more of a problem when recovering, when the rope stretches alarmingly before the trailer and boat lurchres suddenly to one side then up out of the water towards you as it mounts the "step". That's assuming something doesn't break...

Oh - the advice about a rope is spot on - an essential piece of equipment. I keep 30' in my car's boot for this. And you may see people from time to time dipping their rear wheels into the drink. They are probably company cars.

And finally (from me) PBO issue 410 did an article about trailering and launching.

Good Luck!
Rich.
 

ArthurWood

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Ideally, you should immerse the trailer far enough so that the boat floats off. Don't forget to have a rope attached to the boat!
Be careful retrieving, as I once saw a guy in Santa Cruz, CA reverse his van and trailer down the ramp, but the van wouldn't stop and it floated out into the harbour. The driver just sat there for what seemed an age till he realised what had happened then as the van began to sink, he climbed out the side window and sat on the roof until a police boat came to the rescue.
 
G

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I know the slipway well. It was extended a couple of years ago and resurfaced by the EA. Its one of the best around now Its even got keeper piles at the end. The only draw back is the lack of secure parking especially when the fair is in town or the gypo's come for a visit. Otherwise good luck.
 

peterg

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re: impressive lanch

We are based on the Hamble overlooking the slipway which has often proved an entertainment but strangely is not listed by MDL in their brochures as one of the benefits.

Your tale reminds me of a guy doing the same thing last year but on slamming on the brakes of his Omega the boat slid off the trailer whereupon the line from the bow to the towbar snapped and the speedboat floated backwards towards the bank of the Badnam Creek - I've never seen anyone get out of a car more quickly but he still had to swim to get the rope and pull the boat back in, fortunately without serious damage except to his pride.
 

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