Does anyone have any tips for launching a boat using a break back trailer?
I assumed that since my boat was heavy (1.5 tonnes) that launching off a break back trailer could be a tricky and/or dangerous and so thus far I have avoided breaking at least until I've seen it done or got some help. The problem with the alternative (by floating off) is getting in deepenough to be able to float off.
Plan A. Using a 15 foot drawbar extension to push her into deeper water. It worked on launching but steering straight was hard with the boat wanting to turn randomly left or right on every stone it went over so lots of forward, steer and reverse etc. Also I did get my wheels wet and ideally I'd like to keep all 4 on dry concrete. On retrieval it worked a bit better since it was a straight pull with all pivot points in line until with the exception that once on a level roadway somthing rather alarming happened. I found stopping was not easy and in fact not happening at all, as boat and trailer attempted to overtake the car. Luckily there was a soft verge on the roadside the trailer wheels rolled into that brought her to a stop.
Plan B. Decoupling the trailer and pushing her out by hand but with a block and tackle secured between trailer and car for control and retrielval. This worked fine for launch, but retrielval was very hard - I found that trailer had to go so far out that its wheels had gone over the end of the slipway, even my 4x4 would not haul her over this lip and I ended up being rescued by the sailing centre.
Plan C is ultimately using the break back mechanism but I am very unsure about what is going to happen to my rig. Ive seen Roger's video on this (retrieval anyway) and he makes this part look straight forward, but I am more concerned about the launching bit.
I'm hoping there is someone with a similar rig - who I can buddy up with on a DCA cruise early next year.
Launch and retrieve using drawbar extension on Llangollen canal
Launch and retreive using block and tackle on Bala
On low angle ramps I do not break the trailer back because it drops the stern at a steep angle into shallower water ( I take the Rudder off and the skeg is cut up at an angle so that the water does not have to be so deep before the transom starts floating) however this does put a lot of strain on the trailer and I suppose there is a danger of the weight of the boat unloading the vehicle's rear wheels and causing the whole shebang to slide down the ramp
( I once watched Series 7 BMW which has a large low petrol tank back beyond rear wheels that was backed so far into the water the back of vehicle floated and everything slipped down and jackknifed. Sometime later an ad appeared on eBay 4 a Series 7 BMW " slightly water damaged")
Lots of people use break back trailers without trouble. What
particular problems do you foresee?
I would always lower the boat in gently on the winch. A lifeboat
style launch can be spectacular, but for a heavy boat regaining
control afterwards can be a challenge.
On 21 Oct 2019 at 12:53, Martin Wright 3604 [via DCA Forum] wrote:
> Thanks Frank for that insight.
> I guess if you unpin the breakback linkage before launch then the risk
> to the vehicle losing grip is mostly eliminated.
> Do you unhitch (winch and safety chain) in this scenario and let it
> slip naturally, or unwind slowly?
> I think need to experiment using this technique with the trailer
> launching at different depths so as to get to know for my particular
> set up.
Sail when you can, row when you must, motor only
when you have to be at work in the morning.
My boat is reasonably "weight forward" and also is quite reluctant to slide off the trailer - so I suppose there is little danger of it prematurely tipping up or sliding off when launching. On good ramps I arrange a long rope double down the side deck feeding through the bow fairlead and tied to the trailer. I can then reverse down the ramp, halt with finely calibrated authority, and let the boat slide off to the end of its tether. I then gently drive forward whereupon the boat comes up and nuzzles the carpet covered plank across the back of the trailer.
It's a great ego boost when it all goes smoothly - and I am happy to report that has not gone wrong more often, nor more catastrophically, than anyone has a decent right to tolerate.
And while I'm rambling on about launching disasters ...... I once worked in the boat yard that built Bondy's tender to Australia ii
They were trying to launch a similar 100 foot Gin Palace but it was getting caught up - I watched as they ran it down the ramp with increasing severity until it lurched askew on its cradle and punched a substantial steel I beam prop through the bottom into the engine room.
I try to use Frank’s technique for getting the hull to start sliding back - with varying success, because I’m probably not so good at it as he is. I always find launching, even with a break back trailer, a severe test of nerves. Recovery, however, is such a doddle I have become quite relaxed in my approach to the process. My boat, though quite large as cruising dinghies go, weighs less than 300kg with mast, sails and rigging, outboard motor, and all cruising gear on board. The break back trailer makes both singlehanded launch and recovery relatively simple and safe for this size of boat.
"Salvo" - 1963 Tricorn dinghy designed for coastal cruising
Conchil Le Temple