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Old 13-05-2022, 18:50   #1
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Cruising the US from a Trailer Sailor

I have a growing interest in sailing after taking several ASA courses, and I'm contemplating the purchase of a trailerable pocket cruiser. My initial thought is that I'd like to take week-long to month-long trips around the US trailering the boat and cruising anywhere and everywhere. Living in the central part of the country, it seems that nearly every interesting sailing spot is within one to three days drive.

However, in reading lots of material online and in print, this doesn't appear to be a popular idea. Is there something that I'm misunderstanding about the feasibility of cruising US waters in a small boat from a trailer? Is it not possible to leave my vehicle and trailer parked for several days somehow? Are anchorages difficult to find or marina fees excessive? I know that things to see and do along the Texas coast are sparse, but does the same apply to the rest of the country?

If there are forum members, blogs, youtube channels, or anything documenting trips like these, I'd love to read/watch those experiences to better understand the logistics and see workable itineraries for different destinations.
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Old 13-05-2022, 18:56   #2
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Re: Cruising the US from a Trailer Sailor

While it is not popular there is nothing wrong with the idea other than the inherent limitations of your boat. Generally speaking trailer sailers are small with limited accommodations. If you can be comfortable living in the space provided for the amount of time you would like to be out then it may be something you will enjoy. I imagine there would be a bit of planning with regards to where you would leave your truck and trailer, but other than that there would be no other issue with your plan, excepting possibly boat speed.
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Old 13-05-2022, 19:16   #3
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Re: Cruising the US from a Trailer Sailor

Welcome to CF.

These forums may provide more specific information small boat related:

http://https://forum.trailersailor.com/forum.php?id=1

https://sailfar.net/forum/index.php

There are probably more too, these are just ones I am familiar with.
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Old 13-05-2022, 20:19   #4
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Re: Cruising the US from a Trailer Sailor

Quote:
Originally Posted by tackingdev32 View Post
I have a growing interest in sailing after taking several ASA courses, and I'm contemplating the purchase of a trailerable pocket cruiser. My initial thought is that I'd like to take week-long to month-long trips around the US trailering the boat and cruising anywhere and everywhere. Living in the central part of the country, it seems that nearly every interesting sailing spot is within one to three days drive.
Pick up an issue or two of Small Craft Advisor; you'll read about people having adventures in pocket cruisers, or smaller. Also look for books by Frank & Margaret Dye, who cruised extensively on an open 16' dinghy.

We are going into year 15 with a 19 ft trailerable micro cruiser. Not much of a boat by CF standards. (and we are still thinking about a larger boat, but also keeping the microcruiser). Our boat has a pretty strong owners group, and for each of about 13 years prior to the pandemic, the group would meet up somewhere different for 3 days of sailing and cruising some interesting spots. Some of our favourite "microcruising" destinations are the mid-size inland lakes ("cottage" lakes) that most CF members can't or won't get to.

And yes, we are also quite interested in driving around the US and Canada, launching the microcruiser wherever we can. At 2000 lb trailer included, it can be towed by most vehicles with a 6 cyl engine. So you're not alone there.

Most trailerable micro- or pocket-cruisers are ideal as a first boat; used ones are inexpensive to buy and maintain, and stable yet fun to sail. And unless you fail to keep the boat & trailer maintained, they can be sold later on at near the same price.

So yeah, I think that your plan is potentially a great one.
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Old 13-05-2022, 21:10   #5
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Re: Cruising the US from a Trailer Sailor

Quote:
Originally Posted by tackingdev32 View Post
However, in reading lots of material online and in print, this doesn't appear to be a popular idea. Is there something that I'm misunderstanding about the feasibility of cruising US waters in a small boat from a trailer? Is it not possible to leave my vehicle and trailer parked for several days somehow? Are anchorages difficult to find or marina fees excessive? I know that things to see and do along the Texas coast are sparse, but does the same apply to the rest of the country?

I had a Morgan 24 for two years, and a Hunter 260 for two years after that which I just sold a couple of weeks ago. Trailers with brakes, F-250 pickup, the whole setup.


I couldn't make it work, at least not well.


* Trailerable boats are too small to live on at anchor for longer periods (more than a night or two). Not enough tankage, no good way to generate electricity, not enough space or electricity for refrigeration, no workable choices for dinghy, boats too small to be stable in bad weather. In rainy weather, there wasn't enough space below decks for two people to move around, due to low headroom and cramped berths. Ventilation was insufficient on rainy days with no dorades or fans.

* At the large end (23' and up) of the trailer sailor spectrum the boats are difficult to launch and land. You need a deep ramp and it takes time and at least two people. Boat launches and parking lots tend to have overhead obstructions (powerlines, trees, lights). Other ramp users are IME not tolerant of sailboats that require space for stepping/unstepping and extra time due to their size and draft. Even with boats like the H260 that are water ballast, shoal draft, and designed for ease of launch and land.



* Overnight parking is restricted at most boat ramps and security is a problem in places where it is not. There is no useful reference regarding parking restrictions or their absence -- you have to scout in person to find a place that will work.


* It was my experience that paying for dockage at marinas/resorts familiar with sailboats worked best, even if we were not going to stay at the dock every night. This provided us with parking for truck and trailer and a place to return to for shore power, groceries, etc, and provided us with an opportunity to launch and land where assistance was available and where there was some understanding and acceptance of what we were doing.


* Dockage availability was limiting and we had to make reservations well in advance. Facilities that were not sail-oriented (i.e. fishing-oriented resorts) usually had length limitations or were otherwise unwilling to work with us. There are few sail-oriented facilities that are trailer-friendly -- some don't have itinerant slips at all, some don't have ramps so you have to pay for a hoist to launch and land (convenient but costs hundreds of dollars and has to be scheduled in advance)


* Compliance with aquatic invasive species regulations is nearly impossible because there are portions of a trailer sailor that can't be accessed on a trailer for cleaning, such as the ballast tanks or the inside of the centerboard case. Enforcement is becoming more strict making this an emerging problem. After a season in freshwater lakes with zebra mussels it is nearly impossible to remove them completely without significant disassembly while the boat is in slings.



We are moving to a larger boat that we will, for the most part, base in one spot.
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Old 15-05-2022, 21:49   #6
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Re: Cruising the US from a Trailer Sailor

Hey! There are a lot of worthy advice so here you go Want to know about your success when you make your first trip
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Old 16-05-2022, 07:27   #7
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Re: Cruising the US from a Trailer Sailor

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jammer View Post
I couldn't make it work, at least not well.
Thanks for these valuable insights.
Quote:
* Trailerable boats are too small to live on at anchor for longer periods (more than a night or two). Not enough tankage, no good way to generate electricity, not enough space or electricity for refrigeration, no workable choices for dinghy, boats too small to be stable in bad weather. In rainy weather, there wasn't enough space below decks for two people to move around, due to low headroom and cramped berths. Ventilation was insufficient on rainy days with no dorades or fans.
We've done 3-days aboard with few hardships.

One big advantage on our boat is that it came with a real dodger, so we can open the front hatch and the companionway (both screened) to have great ventilation. With the dodger and an extra umbrella (Taylor Anchorshade), we can actually sit out of the rain in the cockpit.

The boat has a deep-cycle group 24 battery, and that will run LED lights, radios and instruments as needed for 3 days, if we're frugal. A small portable solar panel helps top up the battery.

For food, we plan the meals so that the last day's food can be frozen beforehand, together with some water bottles. These help keep other food cool in the first couple of days. And of course we have some food that doesn't require refrigeration. We have a portable jug for drinking water and we wash with lakewater, with careful use of biodegradable soap.

But yeah, one isn't going to spend a week or more away from land in a small boat. Just about every day, we're visiting somewhere - like a beach, or a park or a town where we can walk around a bit. And we'll plan a marina stop every few days for a hot shower, a meal out, to recharge the battery, and to buy more food.
Quote:
* At the large end (23' and up) of the trailer sailor spectrum the boats are difficult to launch and land. You need a deep ramp and it takes time and at least two people. Boat launches and parking lots tend to have overhead obstructions (powerlines, trees, lights). Other ramp users are IME not tolerant of sailboats that require space for stepping/unstepping and extra time due to their size and draft. Even with boats like the H260 that are water ballast, shoal draft, and designed for ease of launch and land.

* Overnight parking is restricted at most boat ramps and security is a problem in places where it is not. There is no useful reference regarding parking restrictions or their absence -- you have to scout in person to find a place that will work.
Yes, but with research and planning, a safe base for launch can often be found.

Quote:
* It was my experience that paying for dockage at marinas/resorts familiar with sailboats worked best, even if we were not going to stay at the dock every night. This provided us with parking for truck and trailer and a place to return to for shore power, groceries, etc, and provided us with an opportunity to launch and land where assistance was available and where there was some understanding and acceptance of what we were doing.
Agreed. And it's nice to have a known base to return to.
Quote:
* Dockage availability was limiting and we had to make reservations well in advance. Facilities that were not sail-oriented (i.e. fishing-oriented resorts) usually had length limitations or were otherwise unwilling to work with us. There are few sail-oriented facilities that are trailer-friendly -- some don't have itinerant slips at all, some don't have ramps so you have to pay for a hoist to launch and land (convenient but costs hundreds of dollars and has to be scheduled in advance)
We can launch anywhere a motorboat can. But yeah I'm finding it tough to find marinas in some areas, that provide transient slips period...
Quote:
* Compliance with aquatic invasive species regulations is nearly impossible because there are portions of a trailer sailor that can't be accessed on a trailer for cleaning, such as the ballast tanks or the inside of the centerboard case. Enforcement is becoming more strict making this an emerging problem. After a season in freshwater lakes with zebra mussels it is nearly impossible to remove them completely without significant disassembly while the boat is in slings.
Yes, this is more of a concern now.
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