Launch ramp safety

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Launch ramp safety

Postby cracker39 on Sun Oct 29, 2017 1:47 pm

My wife and I are both in our late 70’s but I’m anxious to continue boating for as long as possible. We have a ‘92 R21 that we keep on a roller-bunk trailer, and a 3500 GMC diesel pickup as a tow vehicle. Physically, my wife is incapable of doing much at the launch ramp and, although I still get around relatively well, like many old geezers I’m very aware of the risks of a serious accident, and what the long-term consequences could be. That said, I’m not interested in discussing hazards - but in workable tips about how to make the ramp activities safer.

Right now, I use two commercial truck wheel stops behind the front wheels of the truck, each secured to nylon ropes that will drag them along as I pull up the ramp after launching or retrieving the boat. Come Spring, I’ll have a 10’ long extendable tongue fabricated for the trailer that will all but keep the rear wheels of the truck out of the water, as well as ease the stress (on me as well as the boat) of cranking the boat up to the bow stop. That still leaves a 10’, or so, walk down the ramp into around 18” of water to attach or release the cable on the bow eye of the boat. With the roller bunks, and guide posts at the rear of the trailer, placement on the trailer is fairly certain. I’m thinking about welding an upright on the tongue extension, close to the truck, with a large diameter rope hooked thereto and running to the winch post on the trailer. That would provide a safety line to hold onto as I went down the ramp to the winch. Those are my current plans and, aside from wearing an old pair of golf shoes, or the like, with spikes, I haven’t come up with anything else.

If anyone can add additional ideas, I know that they would all be appreciated. Many of you are dealing with much larger and heavier boats, as I have in the past, but from what I’ve observed is that the concerns are similar, provided the vehicle and the trailer are properly matched. Feats of bravado, like attempting to launch or retrieve a 21’ cabin cruiser, with a Yugo, have no place in this discussion - although they’ve provided some great laughable moments for me as an observer!
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Re: Launch ramp safety

Postby baz on Sun Oct 29, 2017 2:30 pm

My advice is to have another sturdy person help you with this task. You're in your late 70s and your wife at best can use a mobile phone to get help if you meet with a disastrous situation, but help could take time to arrive. Your risk is high IMO.

As you've said, "long-term consequences..." could be debilitating for you. It's not worth it; don't risk it, get some help. :)
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Re: Launch ramp safety

Postby Champ on Sun Oct 29, 2017 2:39 pm

Eliminate the trailer. Keep it in a slip.
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Re: Launch ramp safety

Postby baz on Sun Oct 29, 2017 2:44 pm

Champ has the right solution for sure. :)
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Re: Launch ramp safety

Postby cracker39 on Sun Oct 29, 2017 2:55 pm

Champ wrote:Eliminate the trailer. Keep it in a slip.


I definitely like that idea but seasonal slips for small boats are hard to come by here in Maine - and very expensive. Aside from that, I’m about 30 miles inland and the small lakes around me constitute my best cruising grounds.
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Re: Launch ramp safety

Postby cracker39 on Sun Oct 29, 2017 3:13 pm

baz wrote:My advice is to have another sturdy person help you with this task. You're in your late 70s and your wife at best can use a mobile phone to get help if you meet with a disastrous situation, but help could take time to arrive. Your risk is high IMO.

As you've said, "long-term consequences..." could be debilitating for you. It's not worth it; don't risk it, get some help. :)


I think that too many seniors look at what might be risky and they decide to give up. I had rather examine the risk carefully, accept it, and then try to figure out how to mitigate it. We have many lobstermen here in Maine that are well into their eighties. One day they might not return from the sea - but few will live for very long in a bed. I’ve survived two battles with cancer since I retired and I’m looking forward to the next 20 years. I’d hate to look back and wonder why I didn’t do something rather than enjoy great memories because I did.
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Re: Launch ramp safety

Postby baz on Sun Oct 29, 2017 3:26 pm

cracker39 wrote:
baz wrote:My advice is to have another sturdy person help you with this task. You're in your late 70s and your wife at best can use a mobile phone to get help if you meet with a disastrous situation, but help could take time to arrive. Your risk is high IMO.

As you've said, "long-term consequences..." could be debilitating for you. It's not worth it; don't risk it, get some help. :)


I think that too many seniors look at what might be risky and they decide to give up. I had rather examine the risk carefully, accept it, and then try to figure out how to mitigate it. We have many lobstermen here in Maine that are well into their eighties. One day they might not return from the sea - but few will live for very long in a bed. I’ve survived two battles with cancer since I retired and I’m looking forward to the next 20 years. I’d hate to look back and wonder why I didn’t do something rather than enjoy great memories because I did.


You might want to discuss this with your wife to get her opinion on the riskiness of your approach. You are her are dependent on each other, right ?
Barry, Gill & (Jake Wire Hair Fox Terrier)
SOLD - 2010 R-25 LAXEY
Traded 2016 Ranger Gray R-21EC LAXEY to Ranger Tugs.
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Re: Launch ramp safety

Postby scross on Sun Oct 29, 2017 4:08 pm

Is there a marina anywhere nearby that has a travel lift? Lifting the boat on and off the trailer would solve your problem.
Or a marina that would hire out a worker for a few hours who could help with the getting the boat on and off the trailer for you?
Both could be cheaper solutions than the insurance deductible on your car, trailer, boat or your health insurance!
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Re: Launch ramp safety

Postby Charlie on Sun Oct 29, 2017 4:26 pm

The only real tip I can offer up is, no matter how crowded the launch ramp my be, do not let anyone hurry you up. Take your time and think through your launch/ recovery steps. Lots and lots of trailer boaters out there your age or older.
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Re: Launch ramp safety

Postby MaineStay on Sun Oct 29, 2017 5:17 pm

At the risk of being flamed, I would suggest you start by getting rid of the trailer with rollers. Many fun times at the boat ramp involve watching mishaps with them. As you are in Maine, I imagine your truck is 4WD. If it is, and you get a bunk trailer, you should be able to make do on even green and growing ramps. I have been singlehanding for decades. The last boat before our R21 EC was 35' and it was hauled and launched all over. Ready a mid spring line and fenders on the port side, and have everything else ready. Back near the ramp, unhook the boat (ONLY with a bunk trailer) and use a line about 10' long. Have a loop on one end and put it over the stand your winch is attached to, and make the other end fast to a fore cleat. Back in until you can see the boat fenders about to go under, and tap your brakes. She will float right off and come back slightly when the line tightens. You should be able to walk along side her, make fast the spring, get onboard and unhook the fore line (with practice you can just 'flip it' off the winch stand), and warm the engine. Drive your truck and park while your first mate applauds from her lawn chair. Putting her back on trailer is just as easy. Assuming a bunk trailer again, back it in the where the trailer fenders were when you launched. A sturdy set of trailer guides come in handy here also. Drive your boat on. Your first mate can hold her hands apart to show you how far you have to go, but DRIVE your boat on. Do it once and you'll never winch again. You can hang over the bow to hook, crawl out the trailer tongue, walk in the water, or after gaining confidence, slowly drive off and she will settle in the bunks and you can hook once you are off the ramp. It is really less stressful, and eliminates the worst 15 minutes many boaters experience at the beginning and end of the day. The real fun of the 21 is the ease of moving from location to location. It makes for some great adventures!
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Re: Launch ramp safety

Postby Irish Mist on Sun Oct 29, 2017 6:05 pm

My friend has a ski boat and it has an automatic clasp that clamps onto the front "U" bolt on your boat you just drive the boat into it and once you push into it it clamps onto it.
Here is one example here :

http://boatcatch.com
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Re: Launch ramp safety

Postby McMark on Mon Oct 30, 2017 11:19 am

Also, the ramp ‘n’ clamp works well.

https://youtu.be/WrmMMnUi0jc

I like that you are taking precautions and I hope you have many happy boating years in your future.
-Mark
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Re: Launch ramp safety

Postby Irish Mist on Mon Oct 30, 2017 11:53 am

Cracker
There are a few of these things out there. You will need to see which you feel will work best for you. The ones that can release with the pull of a rope seem helpful. You just need an autonomous driving car and you could stay in the boat until it gets home :)
Good luck and keep us posted on what you get figured out, there are a few of us watching this.
Best
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Re: Launch ramp safety

Postby cracker39 on Mon Oct 30, 2017 3:35 pm

I’ve watched people launch and retrieve boats with the auto laich mechanism and it appears to work well. The only problem is that it still dictates having an assistant in the truck - and the second caveat is that the tug has to have the horsepower to shove the boat up onto the trailer. Granted, with the 10’ trailer hitch in play I could back down with the trailer until a gentle nudge is all it would take - but that still leaves me on the boat with a long step to the dock - unless I’ve skillfully maneuvered the trailer to within inches thereof. Time to walk the gangplank Matey!
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Re: Launch ramp safety

Postby cracker39 on Mon Oct 30, 2017 7:39 pm

I mentioned earlier that I block the front wheels of my truck when launching or retrieving the R21. A question ocurred to me that I’m not sure I know how to answer. If the truck is in 4-wheel drive, and the emergency brake is applied, does the emergency brake acting on the rear axle only, as is generally the case, lock the front axle as well, via the mechanical linkage through the transmission??? My initial thought is that it does - but I’ll happily defer to those more knowledgeable.
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