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Worst Launch Experience
|Author||Topic: Worst Launch Experience|
posted 04-14-2001 12:07 AM ET (US)
Just passed this on to nwflyfisher in an e-mail so I thought I would post it here and see who else has had fun at the ramp.
Last summer I was using one of the ramps on Lake Union, in Seattle. It was about 5 AM and still dark my wife had stayed at home so it was up to me to launch and get the truck out of the way. I backed the trailer into the water and jumped out of the truck to get the boat off, after securing the boat to the dock I ran back to the truck to get it out of the way. No such luck. In my hurry to get the boat in I had hit the electric door lock when leaving the truck, key in ignition and motor running. Figured it would take AAA to long to get there so I did there deed, only with a downrigger ball through the back window. It cost me $350.00 because I got in a hurry and didn't think.
Worse yet no fish that day.
Who else has had a bad launch day?
posted 04-14-2001 12:37 AM ET (US)
I forgot the plug once, but put it in when I saw and heard the flow of bubbles coming from the stern.
How about a BAD recovery day?
|Tom W Clark||
posted 04-14-2001 03:07 AM ET (US)
Nothing particularly awful has ever happened to me, but I did once almost engage in fisticuffs with a fellow who cut in front of me in the line waiting for the ramp. I really chewed him out and called him a "squid brain" which absolutely enraged him. He threw his sunglasses on the pavement, destroying them in the process, and I really thought he was going to punch me in the face. Having never been in a fight in my adult life I was scared but at the same time too pissed to back down. Fortunately he had a friend and I had a friend and cooler heads prevailed. Stupid huh? We were just supposed to be having fun....
I have, however, seen on three seperate occasions, tow vehicles launched into the bay! Once at Shilshole marina here in Seattle, once at a small lake near Cle Elum, WA and once at Sekiu, WA. The latter was particularly sad as the guy had just arrived for a weeks vacation and he had a new Ford F250 the bed of which was loaded with tools. I remember watching one of his tool boxes floating out into the bay and then sinking. That poor bastard looked like he was going to cry.
When I launch or retrieve, I have a strict routine. Among other things the engine is off, the transmission is in first gear (I drive a manual) and the parking brake is set hard!
posted 04-14-2001 06:57 AM ET (US)
How's this one> An aquaintance backed his boat (not a whaler) into the water and started a conversation with someone.. then realizing that he had not put plug in transom, pulled forward so as to drain the water from bilge. As he pulled forward, the boat launched (he had already unstrapped everything! He said that all he saw in rear view mirror was the bottom of the boat as the bow went up. He leaped from his car and ran into the water as the boat sank with the bow sticking straight up! Others assisted and when they pulled on the bow line the boat flipped upside-down. As he waded ashore with the swampped boat in tow he saw his car rolling backwards into the water (he had not set brake etc). he got to car and stopped it just as the water came into the back seat! He pulled forward and got the boat back on the trailer and pulled it out so as to drain the water (boat is full of water) and the trailer collapsed due to the tremendous weight of the water! Also the boat (a 17' Sailfish - Whaler knock-off) pushed itself down onto the trailer rollers and ruined the hull... results: engine was sold for rebuild, boat was scrapped, trailer was totaled and car was severely damaged by the salt water.. Whew! How about that launch experience? Clark
PS> I bought the motor! Am I a sucker or what!?.
posted 04-14-2001 09:03 AM ET (US)
now i feel better about my first,first time ( a year ago) launching my 13'68 without any plugs!since then a i'm stronger w/ my right hand ( I melted the hand pump ;)
posted 04-14-2001 09:24 AM ET (US)
I can't top Clark's anecdote. That is the worst I've ever heard!
But once when in my first season as a trailer boater...
We rented a place on Walloon Lake in northern Michigan for a long weekend, drove up (275 miles) and were eager to get the new Whaler in the water and over to the cottage. The closest ramp was on the opposite of the narrow lake, so we drove around, a ten minute ride. The ramp was at the end of a county road that came down a big hill into the lake. It looked like a very nice ramp, concrete and with a nice courtesy dock.
We got the boat ready and backed her down the ramp. That is when I found out that the concrete ended rather abruptly. The trailer wheels fell over the end of the concrete,
I got the boat off the trailer and managed to get the trailer back on the ramp. I got in the boat and started the engine up, but discovered that it would not go in reverse! The jolt of the launching had screwed up the shift linkage somehow.
By now my wife has already left the ramp with the trailer and is heading back to the cottage! I drifted out into the lake to the point where I could shift into forward and get going. Fortunately that worked. I headed over to the cottage to catch up with my wife.
It only takes me a minute to get there, but it takes her 10 minutes to drive back with the trailer. We decide well just leave the boat at the cottage dock and work on it tomorrow. [That is the polite summary of the exchange that occured. There were some recriminations about "Why didn't you tell me the concrete ended," etc...]
We go back the next day and recover the boat, haul it back to the cottage, and I start poking around trying to figure out what has happened to the linkage. Of course, I did not bring any tools with me.
That afternoon we drive down to Charlevoix where there is a mini-Sears store and I buy myself $130 worth of Craftsman tools. Then back to Walloon Lake. The rest of the afternoon I fiddle with the engine, pulling the lower unit, etc. Finally, I put it all back together and we haul it over to the ramp again.
We launch it carefully, avoiding the drop off at the end of the concrete. [Keel roller trailer, by the way.] The engine starts up, but still no reverse!
The hell with it. We go for a boat ride around the lake, but I am pretty nervous about the engine and the lack of reverse, so it is not a real pleasure cruise. By the time the little trip is over I have decided that I cannot enjoy boating like this and we'll have to haul it out again. So back to the ramp we go and out comes the boat.
The boat sat on the trailer the rest of the mini-vacation. We relaxed and read a couple of good books. All the local marinas were too busy with end-of-season work to take a look at the engine. We had spent a small fortune on the place on the lake, and couldn't use the boat! Our dog, an English Springer Spaniel, had a great time swimming in the lake, while we watched from shore.
After this experience, I learned to always make a careful inspection of the launching ramp before backing the boat in! And I also check the engine for FWD-N-REV shifting and thrust before I untie from the dock!
posted 04-14-2001 09:30 AM ET (US)
Watching the activity at the ramp can be very amusing. I've never had any bad experiences launching or retrieving but I recall years ago watching someone retrieve at the end of the season a 23' boat on an old single axle trailer meant for an 19' boat max. I guess the fellow thought he was quite clever and was saving a few bucks. Well, he got the boat onto the trailer and up the ramp. As it came out of the water it was very apparent that there was quite a bit of boat overhanging on the rear of the trailer. He stopped at the top of the ramp where it leveled out and as he got out of the car to secure the boat, the trailer snapped in two right aft of the axel dropping the stern of the boat right onto the pavement. I know it wasn't funny to him but I think it took me several minutes to stop laughing. BTW, it wasn't a Whaler or I might have been crying.
posted 04-14-2001 09:43 AM ET (US)
Due to our "unique" seasonal weather here in the lower Lake Huron area (Jim - you know of what I talk about....) we can get a northeastern storm that comes across Lake Huron very quickly and quite intense. All the anchored boats, moored infront of our parks make a high speed beeline towards the river to the two launch ramps. About that time, the storm hits, dumping rain at the ramp.
For fun, I've gone and watched the excitement. All it takes is:
a - someone cutting infront of someone else
b - someone putting a trailer in too deep (currently, with water levels down _feet_ from "normal" i.e. within recent memories levels) and getting the trailer frame hung up on the drop off
for it to get really fun to watch.
posted 04-14-2001 10:45 AM ET (US)
We did a water ski day at the delta a while
back. One newly purchased boat, a well used
1970s style speedboat -- sort of a mini
hydroplane all V8 and no freeboard -- didn't
show up in the morning so we went skiiing.
We came back the marina for lunch and the
last boat finally arrived as we finished
eating. She put the new to her boat in the
water, parked the trailer, and went up to
get a burger. At this point we noticed her
boat was low in the water and listing. I
grabbed the bailing bag out of the whaler
and started bailing like mad while someone
ran up to get her. We saved it, but just.
It woulda sunk like a rock in about five more
minutes. She'd forgotten the second plug
under the engine. And her bilge pump didn't
work -- auto parts store electrical bits have
no place on a boat.
Before anybody asks: yes, bleached.
BTW, my bailing bucket is also my trash bag.
BTW2: There are two spare sets of truck and
posted 04-14-2001 02:28 PM ET (US)
Clark's story is the absolute worst I've ever heard! I REALLY feel sorry for that guy.
I live on a small island with about 20 residents. We have a community park with dock and ramp. One of the neighbors had a guest come down who had just purchased a new pontoon boat and a deluxe conversion van to tow it with. Well, the guy apparently launched just fine....problem was he FORGOT about his van sitting on the ramp (at low tide). He just took off for about a 6 hour tour of the local area. Talk about a major mistake. The salt water got up to the dashboard of the van, making a fine mess of the plush velour interior and the particle board interior parts were already swelling and splitting.
At least the poor fellow's boat was left unscathed.
posted 04-14-2001 03:32 PM ET (US)
My first thought was that it served him
right for blocking the ramp all day.
posted 04-14-2001 04:49 PM ET (US)
Not wanting to "dump" on myself, I'll tell it as a lesson to all.
I just finished rebuilding a Small Pacific trailer for my new 17 hull. New winch, new lights and wiring, new springs, new bearings, new bunks, and 4 new poly rollers set so that they would take most of the weight, with the bunks set for lateral stability. Got to the ramp at low tide, disconnected the straps like I always did, put in the plug, and got in. As my partner backed down I felt a strange sound as the boat seemed to move somewhat fast. "Why is he backing down so fast?" I thought as I looked forward to se my truck not moving. You guessed it. I took the 30 foot concrete slide with my new 17 Alert hull, 6 months old. The steepness of the ramp and the marine growth at the lower section deposited my boat in the water, with me in it. Looking at the ramp, there were two gray streaks leading to the water as the boat tipped starboard riding on the center and side sponson. My buddy stepped out of the truck with that jaw dropped "Holy #*&@!" look. Park the car, we might as well go out. The boats already in the water. After 3 hours, we retreived the boat to survey the damage. Just gelcoat and a transom mount bait pump. Insurance paid $1600 for repairs. Keep the winch strap on until you have the trailer wheels touching the water! Oh yeah, we caught about 35 stripers.
|Lil Whaler Lover||
posted 04-14-2001 06:36 PM ET (US)
Clark's story will probably be one of the worst ever, but some other poor souls have tried to at least match that poor soul. I had a good friend in Maine, with an old (then new) 21' Outrage. He was not an experienced boater but did think he knew everything. As a partner in a big CPA firm he often used the boat to entertain clients. One day he took the CEO of a large hospital to the ramp on the Fore River in South Portland to put in for a ride in Casco Bay. This was a typical long steep ramp to deal with the tides in Maine.
He pulled into the ramp, backed up to the top of it and stopped to undue the winch rope. Then he handed a line to his guest and told him to hang on while he backed it down and slammed on the brakes to launch the boat. He then proceeded to do that, with the boat not moving an inch to come off. Pulling the boat back up the ramp, he then remembered to remove the stern tiedowns, and proceeded to back down the ramp a second time. When he slammed on the brakes, the boat landed and skidded on the barnacle encrusted concrete ramp to within about 10' of the water. He told his guest that the tide was coming in and they would be under way soon so he would go park the rig. About 15 minutes later his guest pointed out that the tide was still going out. His final response was that there was nothing to worry about because the tide came in faster than it went out. Never did hear about the rest of the day. Dave
posted 04-14-2001 06:42 PM ET (US)
There are two parallel ramps at the Monterey
breakwater. We were retreiving the Montauk
on one of them one Saturday, and there was
a PWC tied up on the other one. A minute or
two later a minipickup backs down the other
ramp. No trailer. Tailgate down. He backs
it all the way into the water until the water
reaches the end of the bed (yes, the bumper
was underwater the water was lapping at the
bottom of the cab doors. He sets the brake,
leaves it idling, and then fires up the PWC
and drives into the back of the truck.
He did it again the next day. We never saw
posted 04-14-2001 07:00 PM ET (US)
I witnessed a near disastrous retreival about 25 years ago, while waiting my turn to launch. A guy had his pickup camper with empty trailer backed up and he had his boat hooked up to the winch and was "straddleing" the trailer tongue whilst cranking. When the load increased towards the end of the process, he changed positions to crank alongside the winch (the proper position)....he gave it two more cranks and the eye bolt pulled itself out from the bow, and, due to the "stretch" of the winch line, turned into a deadly missle. The eyebolt went right thru the metal door of the camper. It would have gone through his chest if he hadn't moved. At the risk of someone telling me to mind my own business, I usually end up telling that story on boat ramps at least once a year.....whenever I see someone straddling his trailer tongue....
posted 04-14-2001 08:04 PM ET (US)
I do not trailer any more but before backing down the ramp I always put both front windows down in case it goes in the water and I have to swim out. Once I saved a boat/trailer from going in by pulling on the side window of the car so it could get back up the ramp (covered with slime). Guy wanted to give me a hundred but I refused. He was shook.
posted 04-14-2001 08:40 PM ET (US)
MAERD, that was a very noble move of you to help someone like that in that hairy of a situation, risking life and refusing reward, very rare these days! I know you don`t like me or will respond to me but I will contunue to respond to you and you`re posts and will hopefully see you at a Whaler Rondevous someday. You`re friend-Jack Graner.
posted 04-14-2001 09:04 PM ET (US)
Also it's a good idea to periodicly check your winch to make sure the anti reverse ratchet works.
About 15 years ago I was helping a friend retrieve his boat and was just snugging it up against the bow stop when the ratchet let go. The handle caught me on the back of the hand and broke 2 fingers.
posted 04-14-2001 09:22 PM ET (US)
I don't have a boat yet but I enjoy fishing from shore near a nice salt water ramp near me. A guy and his wife had just arrived up to the boat ramp from there first trip in there new 17 footer. I was chatting with him about his boat and he was a little down about the boats performance. Being a nice guy I asked him if he needed a hand taking his boat out of the water, he said sure. As I walked to the boat ramp to check out his new boat I saw a pickup truck backing up to the boat ramp. As the truck got closser my jaw dropped to the ground. I now knew why the boat was a bit slugish, it still has the boat trailer attached to the boat! When I asked why he did not remove the trailer from the boat a blank stair came over him.
As Homer Simpson would say "Doh!"
posted 04-14-2001 09:45 PM ET (US)
We used to boat a lot at Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. One day we were launching our boat and had just parked the trailer when 3 fellows came in with a 22' v-drive style boat. It was intensely throaty and I had to check it out. Hemi with a supercharger on top-100mph, no problem. They tied up to the dock and one of them brought down the truck and trailer. The owner tried to restart the boat to drive it on the trailer and nothing happened. He thought he had a dead battery and asked us for a jump-no problem. We hooked up the cables and nothing. He thanked us and we unhooked the cables. He then figured he had a bad starter solenoid and proceeded to get out a screwdriver to jump the solenoid. When he jumped the solenoid with the screwdriver, that big hemi came to life. The boat cleared the trailer, taking the winch post with it and landed on top of the truck. The transom was even with the tailgate. The engine was wide open with the boat sitting on top of the truck. The prop basically exploded when it hit the tailgate, thank god no one was hit by the pieces. No one would get near the boat and it did not take long for a rod to come out the side of the block and the engine finally seized. After everyone wiped out their pants and checked to make sure that no one was injured, we checked out the boat. Funny thing, the neutral safety switch worked correctly because the shifter was in forward and the throttle was wide open. The only thing that the owner could figure was that when he got out of the boat to tie it up, he must have leaned on the throttle and not known what he had done.
posted 04-15-2001 02:46 PM ET (US)
I guess you could say that guy added an entirely new dimension to the term "launching a boat." :)
posted 04-15-2001 04:25 PM ET (US)
Here is another launch ramp story, first person:
posted 04-15-2001 09:34 PM ET (US)
Having seen and nearly avoided a few launch ramp disasters, I use this little trick. I bought a plastic wheel chock at West for a few bucks and tied an 8 foot piece of rope to it. When I back down the ramp (both launching and retrieving), I have my wife chock the rear wheel of the Jeep, or I do it my self when I'm alone. When I pull the Jeep up the ramp, I just hang onto the rope and drag the chock behind until I'm on level ground. With this method, there's no chance of stalling and rolling back, and I don't have to trust the parking brake when I'm winching or launching.
posted 04-15-2001 11:38 PM ET (US)
Here's One. Last year while I was launching a truck pulled up. The driver told me to be careful and not do what his friend had done at the same ramp the week before. He backed up with new truck and his boat. Forgot to put shifter in park. Boat, truck and trailer were about 12 feet under. Needed a scuba diver to assist in recovery. Truck (1/2 ton with 4 wheel drive) a write-off.
posted 04-16-2001 08:14 AM ET (US)
Two summers ago I was doing the chaulk thing like andygere was describing. My buddy was driving the manual tranmisition truck while I was standing next to the rig holding the rope to the chaulk ready to pull it out as he moved foward. He popped the cluch and lurched forward. I jerked the rope to quickly pull the chaulk out before he ran over it with the trailer. I was wearing flip flops and tripped, fell into an oyster bed. Ended up with about 15 stiches in the bottom of my feet. I don't think the case of beer that day really had anything to do with it.
posted 04-16-2001 06:04 PM ET (US)
How about some advice on safety when loading boat on trailer? Is it safe to winch boat on trailer for full length of trailer or should you run boat part way up on trailer before you winch up boat? I feel winch cable is very dangerous when under load. Any advice on winch safety would be appreciated.
posted 04-16-2001 07:07 PM ET (US)
Yes, you can winch a boat all the way on if you need to. I do it all the time with my 25 Outrage, Whaler's largest Classic trailerable boat. But you will probably need a keel roller trailer to do it, and with an 18 Dauntless, it's not likely that you have one of these, from what I've been hearing here.
I have also never liked the steel cables, and switched to the 6000lb rated straps. Dutton Lainson is one of the makers of these. Never had one break on me, but be sure the stitching at the hook is really good. I use a dual speed 2500lb D-L brand winch. Rarely have to use the lower speed.
With the low Great Lakes water levels, often I just back the trailer in so the rear set of rollers is at the surface. Rest of rollers are out of water. Then bring the bow into the little "vee" notch in the roller, and winch it all the way up. Your boat will always come on perfectly straight this way.
posted 04-16-2001 07:52 PM ET (US)
I am a drive on guy with my Montauk.
I back the trailer in to a depth I have pre determined, power the boat on right to the bow stop, step over the bow onto the trailer tongue, hook the strap cinch it up tight and then step off on to the truck bumper. No wet feet.
It may not work for everyone but it sure does for me.
posted 04-16-2001 08:56 PM ET (US)
LHG: I like your thoughts on winching the boat on the trailer. My Dauntless 18 was on a Caukins trailer with bunk outboard and rollers down the center. I usually ran the boat half.way on and winched the rest of the way. The boat has been replaced with a 2l Conquest. The trailer is a loadrite with rollers down the center and bunks on the side. I do have a Dutton Lainson electric winch. Due to heart condition I can't roll manual winches. Sunday for the 1st time I loaded Conquest back on the trailer winching it all the way. The winch cable was bow.string tight and I was afraid it was going to snap. The winch you mention...is it electric or manual? Also, does my description of my trailer sound like what you use on your boat? Thanks to everyone on the forum for your replies.
posted 04-16-2001 09:16 PM ET (US)
You seem to have one of the few keel roller trailers I've heard of under a newer Whaler.
But yes, your trailer sounds similar to mine. You can find a picture of it on this website. The boat should roll up easily if the weight of the boat is properly carried on the rollers, with the side bunks only providing lateral support. I use a hand winch, which will acomodate a strap. I don't think the electric ones will, but I'm not sure of that.
There are some notes in the trailer section on how to adjust the bunks so you don't get much friction when winching the boat up. Be sure yours are done properly.
posted 04-17-2001 12:41 AM ET (US)
My arm knows the heaviest strain on the
winch and strap is the last foot. So it
shouldn't make any difference whether you
drive it on a little, or most of the way.
I only drive it on at one ramp where there's
Which brings up a launch ramp story from
posted 04-20-2001 02:49 AM ET (US)
Long but worth it.
OK me and a buddy pitched in all the cash we had and bought an early 70s bow rider with a 100hp outboard on a too small trailer. After welding a broken steering cable, which took about 8 hours to unseize and fix, we (5 in the morning now) decided to go down to one of our local beatiful N.H. lakes. No experience at all between us in matters beyond maybe a canoe. Since we couldn't find any ramp on this lake, we snuck the boat down over a small (private?) sand beach into the water. Tooled around the lake a while, then back to the beach. Of course going DOWN had been fine and then back up with an EMPTY trailer. but because of the soft sand and the grade, we couldn't get the truck (Toy 4x4) to pull the LOADED trailer back up the beach. So finally after much spinning of tires, we ended up using a nylon snatch strap to jerk the boat up the steepest and softest part of the beach. We weren't too concerned because of the fine sand and we planned a refinish anyway. So then we cranked it up onto the trailer, made a bit easier by it being a "folding" trailer. (a little foreshadowing there) So you might think that's an OK story, but it gets waaaaaay better. On the road again, as a matter of fact a twisty, frost-heave-y road, and not 5 miles from the lake, the folding trailer so helpful before, decides to fold. At 30mhp. Loaded. Made a hell of a noise. Fish tailed pretty good too. Scared the hell out of us. Luckily, just ground a chunk off of the bottom of the transom. And could have been much worse. We soon made a VERY strong steel clasp to make sure it never happened again.
Part 2: The next trip out.
Still lacking experience, and apparently lacking some measure of common sense, we put the plug in the OUTSIDE of the transom. Very luckily, we were headed back in (on another N.H. lake) before we started taking on water. Under power the little sump was keeping up, but when we got to the ramp, it was mad-dash time. Well we got most of the boat on the trailer, just as the engine went under. (shut down of course) so we just dragged it (and maybe a thousand pounds of water) out with the truck. and let it start draining. A buddy was having problems getting it winched further up the trailer with all that water in it. Usully pretty humble, I stepped up and said something like, "what's the problem? Here let ME get that." With all my might, I got maybe another turn out of it when the ratchet let go, as the extra heavy boat settled back a few feet. The handle spun and caught me right across the third knuckles. My hand swelled easily twice its normal size and I couldn't move it for a long time. I was sure I had then, and I'm still amazed to this day that I didn't break anything. (sure felt like it) Anyway, we just cleaned up the engine electrics on the engne and were back in business. Pretty lucky in those (and several other, now that I think about it) considering what could have been ...
posted 04-22-2001 12:01 PM ET (US)
one cold gray spring day I was fishing alone in my 12 foot aluminum boat, 6 hp Johnson, in Lake Memfremagog about 30 miles north of my home. When I got back to the trailer ramp I noticed two 10 year olds sitting maybe 100 feet away on a railroad bridge looking like the cat swallowed the canary. I didn't think much of it, walked back to my truck, and I don't know why but for once I gave the trailer a once over. There were probably half a dozen other trailers there. Propped up under the trailer tires of every trailer were a series of broken coke bottles with the sharp part under the tire. I looked up and the kids started running away. Well I figured I outsmarted them, but was still pretty po'ed about the whole thing, juvinile delinquints and all that, so I quickly pulled the boat out of the water and started home.
I drove probably a mile on a gravel road, then onto the tar road and started to pick up some speed, probably 30 mph.
All of a sudden I hear this terrible scraping noise and at the same time glance in my rear view in time to see the bow of my boat giving me the high five as it slides off the trailer. I want to say to you, I jammed on the brakes like I never did before. The only thing that really happened was the skeg ground off a little and a little of the aluminum ground off the bottom/transom area around the drain hole. Fortunately no one was behind me. In my haste and anger, I had forgotten to clip the winch rope to the bow. Needless to say, when I got home, I bought a nylon strap and make it a point to clip it to an eye bolt I welded on the winch support and the bow eye. Also a transom strap.
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