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Old 08-04-2014, 17:23   #1
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Ramp Launching Full Keel Boats - Tell me your problems

So, as a little background, I am a fairly new sailor and a fairly new engineer. As of late, I've been dealing with issues of getting my boat onto my trailer. My ramp is a little short and shallow to get my 4' keel up on the boat. Last time I ended up cranking on the bow line, with near failure when the boat came in off angled and snapped off one of my supports.

Anyway, I have some ideas for getting full keel boats onto trailers and was hoping to hear your stories and what helps you.

Also, If you would like to evaluate my idea, I would appreciate that too. I am going to run a tow strap around the under side of my boat before I get to the dock, so that the strap is between the rudder and the keel. When I get to the ramp, I will get the boat as close as possible, then hook the tow strap up to a cum a long at the base of the trailers bow post and winch the boat up the trailer in that fashion. I will be pulling by the keel instead of the bow.
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Old 08-04-2014, 20:59   #2
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Re: Ramp Launching Full Keel Boats - Tell me your problems

I've done this but I only draw 3ft. I have been a foot short of water and used a large transport ratchet strap through the prop aperture to pull my boat up on the trailer. Not that bad because a lot of the weight is still floating. You can't restrain the bow because it rocks back on the keel forefoot when you start to take it out of the water. A strap on the keel or stretchy lines back to the winches or stern cleats has worked for me. Sometimes I just belay a line to the bow as I drive out. I have found that as soon as the keel starts to load the trailer it won't slip. I have trouble getting the boat forward on the trailer because it rocks back and placement to the inch for me is critical for balance. So I usually I pull the boat and then find a slight downgrade while everything is still wet. Then I tighten the keel strap and rock the boat side to side. It will slide up into place. My boat is 4k lbs. I would think ramps that will handle 4ft are very rare. Do you have an tongue extension?
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Old 08-04-2014, 21:13   #3
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Re: Ramp Launching Full Keel Boats - Tell me your problems

I have the same problem and will be looking to see suggestions presented you. good luck.
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Old 08-04-2014, 22:08   #4
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Re: Ramp Launching Full Keel Boats - Tell me your problems

Where I used to store my boat in the winter (Winter Island in Salem, MA) -- she would go up and down the ramp every fall and spring. There was plenty of water for the 4' keel as long as it wasn't absolute low water. The marine hauling company would back their truck and trailer to ramp and then the trailer would detach from their truck so the truck could stay clear of the water. When it was time to pull the trailer up, with or without the boat on the trailer, the winch cable on the truck did the trick.
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Old 09-04-2014, 07:05   #5
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Re: Ramp Launching Full Keel Boats - Tell me your problems

I am going to find out soon. I have a 3.5 draft 2000 lbs. I am going to try a tongue extension. I didn't even think about the boat rocking on the keel. I had a Marina lift it last year. The ramp near me is shallow, steep, and tight. It should be entertaining. I should do a video. I have a roller trailer so in theory it should work. I will keep you guys posted.

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Old 09-04-2014, 07:13   #6
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At the bottom of the ramp, before the trailer wheels are in the water, I chalk both trailer wheels. I then connect a 20' tow strap from the trailer to the truck using shackles. My trailer has a wheel and tire they swings down behind the tongue. At that point I jack the hitch off the ball and pull the truck and trailer with 20" between up until the trailer chalks can be removed. Then I lower the trailer onto that nose wheel and off the jack. I disconnect the bow line from the trailer and back the truck up until she floats off.
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Old 09-04-2014, 07:49   #7
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Re: Ramp Launching Full Keel Boats - Tell me your problems

make sure your ramp has sufficient length under the water to allow the trailer to go back far enough, nothing worse then then the wheels go over the edge and the boat still isn't free of the trailer, big mess ( don't ask me how I Know)

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Old 09-04-2014, 08:28   #8
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Re: Ramp Launching Full Keel Boats - Tell me your problems

If your ramp has enough draft once the trailer gets back an extra 6 or 8 feet, then a tongue extension is probably your best option. It can be mounted off center. It can be mounted below the regular hitch. It can even be lashed onto the main tongue. You are not going down the highway with this thing. The trailer doesn't need to track straight when you use it.

If you don't have an extension available, then detaching the trailer from the tow vehicle & walking the trailer back into the water is my next best option. This usually involves getting about waste deep in the water yourself, but it does work. I have managed to then pull the trailer out of the water using an anchor line, chocked the trailer wheels & then hooked back up to the truck normally.

This all assumes that you have a trailer that is properly sized & equipped to carry the particular boat in question.

If the ramp doesn't have enough draft for the boat + about a foot more, no matter how far back you go, then you may be better off finding another ramp.

An engineer could probably design a specialty trailer that would pick up a boat with just an inch of water under it, but that would be a bit of a specialty item, much like a EEE drop deck trailer that is used for hauling forklifts with a heavy duty pick up truck.
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Old 09-04-2014, 08:37   #9
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Re: Ramp Launching Full Keel Boats - Tell me your problems

Is anyone using a tongue extension and if so what is it made of and how long? My boat, 24 ft my trailer 27 ft dual axle, boat weight 4k lb. and the boat draft is 3'9". I have not yet launched her, but plan to this summer.
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Old 09-04-2014, 12:23   #10
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Re: Ramp Launching Full Keel Boats - Tell me your problems

I'm interested in this as well. I've been thinking about an extension but wasn't sure what material to use or how to attach it. I was thinking just some square tubing and maybe some big U-bolts? I'd rather not have to have any welding done on the galvanized trailer...
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Old 09-04-2014, 12:52   #11
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Re: Ramp Launching Full Keel Boats - Tell me your problems

It very well maybe a combination of things that will get it right, Lower supports or bunks an inch, lower profile tires, hitch extension, adjustable height hitch, adjustable height leaf springs, get a longer bed 4x4 truck.
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Old 09-04-2014, 14:17   #12
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Re: Ramp Launching Full Keel Boats - Tell me your problems

My tongue extension is about 2" square steel tube with about 1/8" thick wall, slides inside another tube which is U-bolted to the trailer. Around 6' longer than the main hitch is usually enough.
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Old 10-04-2014, 06:21   #13
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Re: Ramp Launching Full Keel Boats - Tell me your problems

I usually make extensions out of 3" x 1/8" wall tube. You can go a little thinner & use 11ga, 12ga or even 14ga wall if you want something that weighs less. Ball couplers for 3" square tube are easily available & U bolts in this size are stocked at most trailer supply houses in the US.

I have seen a variety of rigs. Some have a square socket welded to the frame either beside or below the main tongue & then the extension can slide in & out from there. The sliding tube is usually locked in place with a pin, as on a reciever hitch. On a few that I have seen, the sliding tongue is the main rig that is also used on the road. These I have only seen on purpose built trailers. They are the exception, not the rule. Other rigs have a similar set up off to the side. This may look problematic at first glance, but it works fine.

The easy way to do an add-on is just to use U-bolts from the extension to the frame, but this means that you need to carry a wrench (spanner) to move the extension in & out. I have seen the extension lashed to the frame successfully with 3/8" rope instead of using U-bolts. I would certainly not go down the road that way, but at the ramp it gave no problems.

The best length of the extension will vary with your needs. The slope of the ramp that you plan to use will be a prime piece of information to consider. It is cumbersome to carry an extension that is longer than the trailer itself. It is not particularly useful to carry one that is only a few feet long. I usually go for about the length of the trailer less 2 feet, unless I have a specific reason to do otherwise. A shallow ramp & deep draft boat might combine to be such a reason.

A single extension that is U-bolted or lashed to a trailer might be shared between several different trailers. A sailing club or yacht club might purchase a single extension to be used by the membership at large.
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Old 10-04-2014, 06:26   #14
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Re: Ramp Launching Full Keel Boats - Tell me your problems

Can ramp launch 7' draft at some ramps in Michigan. Need a long tongue extension and a real tire on the tongue. They use cables at some of the TVA lakes.
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Old 10-04-2014, 06:48   #15
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Re: Ramp Launching Full Keel Boats - Tell me your problems

Extension available from vendor: Extend a hitch boat and sailboat trailer hitch extensions
I have never owned so cannot comment on quality
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