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woofy

Singlehanded launching/recovery of a large dinghy

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Have a lot of experience with Sunfish and Lasers.  Piece of cake launching and recovering.   

Now I am looking into a much larger boat - same basic length 14-15 feet, but hull weight of up to 300 pounds.  I am concerned about launch and recovery, as I will often be on my own with some occasional help from teens. 

I will be keeping the boat on a dolly at a lake club.  Location is new to me.  There is an area of grass that is relatively flat out on a point.  There is a concrete boat launch going in.  Not too steep.  Grassy area max 2 feet above the lake.  I imaging the launch apron might be a little slippery, but have not had a chance to test it.  A ways off, perhaps 150 to 200 feet down the point is a narrow sand area that is often used by people to launch and recover.  Getting down/up from the grass area should be relatively easy since it is a very gradual slope from the grass area to the sandy beach.  Sand is well packed and very hard.  This is more likely where I will launch as I can launch and then beach to rig the boat. 

Question really is then what is the maximum weight/size boat that I could practically handle by myself in such circumstances.  I am 6 foot, 200 lbs and fit though I am a bit older.  I really don't mind a little workout, and there is no deep, loose sand.  Dolly will be of British type.  Could see getting larger tyres if advisable. 

At this point I am just concerned about getting too much boat and not being able to handle it going in and out.  Getting a mooring is a very real option, but I will prefer to dry sail this boat if at all possible.   

I literally scoured the web looking for this information and it really is not much discussed.  Anything you can tell me would be very helpful.  Thank you. 

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Shouldn't be a problem. I used to single hand my 505 and often take an Olson 30 out for a sail single handed. You just have to give yourself a bit more room and time when leaving and returning to shore. It will be easier to launch and pull out using the ramp. Often there is a ledge at the beach that grabs the wheels of the dolly.

The most important part is the setup. I launch my Swift Solo with the sails up, rudder in the cassette but blocked up, and the daggerboard where I can reach it. Back the boat into the water, slip the daggerboard in part way, then push off and climb in. When the boat is deep enough, push the blades all the way in. If your boat has a centerboard, that is a bit easier. A kick up rudder or one in a cassette also makes beach launches much easier. Best is a windward shore or cross breeze. If it is rough, a leeward shore is doable but not fun. Drop sails and pull blades early when coming in and time your jump over the side to catch the boat so you aren't swimming with the boat.

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Hi Woofy.

I launch and recover my VX1 singlehanded on a beach. it is 19', 575lbs. I'm 65 and 220lb. A little trailer prep makes it work fine. Instructional video attached. Good luck with your  boat.

 

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I don't think solo launching a 300lb boat is going to be a problem. The worst case is moving the boat in to deeper water to float it on and off the dolly. So you'll be waist deep instead of knee deep. 

What might make your life easier is setting a small danforth and bouy as a temp mooring to tie to while you bring the empty dolly ashore, or when retrieving dolly upon your return. Just leave it there while you're out sailing. Solves the problem of rushing the dolly ashore and rushing back out to catch a drifting boat. Also holds boat head to wind and waves while you install rudder, hoist sails, tidy up gear, etc. 

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My RS700 is not that heavy, but it's heavier than my Laser and Aero, so I do things differently with it. You might find this useful.

Typically there is a sandy beach I want to use, but it is inaccessible via land for the hand dolly (fence or other land obstruction). So, I drag both the dolly and the boat into the water and have the boat tied to the dolly to keep the dolly from sinking. I then just walk from the boat launch and wade over to the sandy beach from the concrete boat launch. I just drag the dolly/boat combo along with me as it floats. I then roll up on the sandy beach and start rigging up.

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3 hours ago, woofy said:

Question really is then what is the maximum weight/size boat that I could practically handle by myself in such circumstances.

Are you asking whether you can pull a 300lb boat up the beach with muscle or with the aid of a winch or car? People seem to be assuming the hard part is getting the boat onto the trailer but most places I've sailed, it's going to be pulling the boat by hand up the beach and most people will find 150lb and more to be hard work. It very much depends on the surface and steepness though.

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I dont think you will have any problems launching, nor will it be hard to float onto the dolly to set up for the haul out.

The harder part is going to be pulling a 300 lb hull + weight of the trailer up the beach or up the ramp. It will be a cinch for two people .  Single handed?  its good that you are fit, because that is a heavier boat for one person.  

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Thanks to all for responses.  There are some good ideas as well as some nice confidence building bits here.  

I really AM worried about the hauling part - noted by IPLore and dogwatch.  Am most concerned about hauling 300 pounds out up a possibly slippery ramp (there are small "steps" for purchase) or potentially through a somewhat muddy bottom to the packed sand. 

Likely will need to purchase large low pressure tires and haul it from the beach side.  Once on the packed sand, it is a fairly easy roll to the dinghy parking area.  

This URL shows the area.  https://tinyurl.com/y8ta3e25

To the left of the pontoon boat is where boats are launched from the beach.  The parking area for dinghies is up on the grassy area further to the left, beyond the wall and picnic table...

You can see that there is a gravel curtain drain that I would have to negotiate, but overall not too bad.  Again... for me the issue will be mostly in hauling a 300 pound boat out of the water on a dolly in this area.  Worried about mud/muck.  

The boat ramp is not visible nor could I find pictures.  It is way over to the left, and frankly I think I am going to go look at it tonight if I can get permission.  

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I regularly move heavy dinghies around a  max 10deg slope rough foreshore, Wayfarer (16ft) 373lbs hull weight, more like 450 and more with the trolley and a Wanderer(14ft) which with its trolley in going sailing form, including oars and anchor is 487lbs (I've put a scales under each wheel and the jockey wheel and added it up).

Both boats have 14" pneumatic tires on plastic hubs on steel axles, no roller bearings. 

Last summer I brought a new wheel barrow for building work to replace my old one which had the same wheel and bearings as the boat trolleys. The new one had roller bearings the difference is incredible, the lower bearing friction makes a huge difference! When I can find some I'm going to replace the boat trolley ones with the roller bearing version.

Both these heavy boats are moved with a tackle attached to a ring in the ground, the tackle is a 2:1 and I'm 6ft 1 and 187lbs and fit. Both are only just possible for me.

As both these are club boats this year we have taken the decision to put both on moorings, this will avoid our members damaging themselves and others pulling them up or getting them down.

500lbs of loose boat does a lot of damage on a slope, we were lucky just to have a quick launching and not kill anyone...........

We  have a Laser 2 which with its trolley is probably about 220lbs just before launching, and I can  manage OK so I'd say that your boat weighing 300 is likely to be at least 350 with the trolley and probably  closer to 400lbs. By yourself at that weight if you have a choice antifoul it and get a mooring. Otherwise get a really light trolley with as big as wheels as possible with  roller bearings and a jockey wheel will help as well.

Strangely all the big heavy boats sit in the dinghy park and rot and the small light boats go sailing.......can't think why:)

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Thanks Dart96... In my case, 300 lbs is "all up."   Hull weight is a little over 240 lbs.

So yes, 340-ish with the trolley.  

Tackle and an eye an interesting idea.  Not sure I could get that cleared there.  Someone invariably would whack themselves on it.  

I am beginning to despair a little of this.  Perhaps I should consider something a little more like a Laser 2.  Already discounted to Wayfarer on account of weight, but beginning to think 300 is too much.  Hard to know.  Wish I could try it out at this location, but that's not going to happen.  

Woofy

 

 

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I can pull my 505 up most boat ramps my self even when a bit slippery. I often have help but its not impossible. 

Certainly managing the dolly by yourself can be difficult. Some of the laser sailors here ask bystanders to pull the dolly out of the tide line and then they capsize when the come in to retrieve the dolly. keeps the boat from floating/sailing away.

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I've thought about some kind of ratchet device to help pull the dolly up a slope.  Something as simple as chocks built into the dolly you can flip down and it keeps the wheel from rolling backwards.  Then you could grab the tongue and work it  back and forth to walk your way over the tough spots.  Once you get it rolling, pull straight.

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@Kenny Dumas - yes, a good ratchet device would be a come-along... like so: https://tinyurl.com/yaq5mtya

Have used these to pull wire for fences (tighten wire, then staple to post; also have used them to lift engines from cars... the one above is good for 3 tons.  A bit much, but it has 18 feet of cable and so might pull boat from water in one go.  Most have much shorter cables.  A strong tree to anchor the winch, a good long length of winch rope and off you go.  There are plenty of trees in the area where I need to haul.  I'll go over there and look at it with this in mind.  Might actually do it if I cannot manage a clean pull.  

@Locus - Thanks... this gives me some heart.  505 has a hull weight of 281 lbs. so a little more than 300 all up.  I like the idea of putting a temporary either anchor or mooring in the water to hold the boat while storing/retrieving the dolly.  That part does not concern me too much.  

All - awesome suggestions and help... if anyone else has direct experience with largish dinghies on either packed sand or boat ramps, would love to hear your thoughts!  Thanks.  

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A come along is too slow and will only pull about 10' before it has to be reset. Traditional method of hauling a boat up a slope is a capstan, although for a smaller boat a windlass would work.

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Agreed... come-along too slow.  

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From the picture you don't have much vertical distance to negotiate. That's something.

I've a fair amount of experience moving 300kg keelboats around on big-wheel dolleys. This is easily done by one person on the flat on hard-standing. On sand, even hard sand, there is no way two people can move a boat even slightly uphill. You need to find a party of six people to pull them up the beach, or 100lbs each give or take. Sand makes a huge difference, mud would be worse. Wayfarers with a crew of two on the same territory generally use the electric winches intended for keelboats. (If there are winches why do people find 6 friends to move their boat? That's because the winches constantly break down.)

You are somewhat bigger than me and I dare say stronger but no way in the world would I personally plan on moving a 300lb boat around single-handed if sand and mud enter the picture. Then again, at most clubs you can usually find someone to help.

 

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Rig a block on a strop that you can luggage tag to a tree. Long bow line through that block running back to mainsheet swivel. Push from behind the dinghy while you tail the slack through the mainsheet jammer. You can stop and catch your breath and cleat keeps you from losing ground.

I use versions of that setup to move shit around my very sloped yard when it is too wet to use truck or lawnmower to pull stuff. 

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For a previous boat, @ 450#, I used a portable 12v winch and small battery which mounted on the trailer tongue to go up a 12 degree ramp. Worked fine.  Ditched it when a capstan was installed.

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As you already have the boat in mind that's one constant.

There are ways of making the boat trolley roll much easier over a soft surface. The simplest is to run two wheels on each side on one axle. Tractors do this to negotiate soft ground. Having really big wheels and good bearings helps enormously, however all these solutions assume you have the money and time to work them out. A friend has a quad bike he uses to tow stuff around, would make short work of pulling your boat! Are you allowed to do that sort of thing? Then there would be the cost of a quad bike.....

Maybe you can borrow the boat or similar and experiment with a couple of friends, in half an hour you'd find out all the problems and there is a possibility that some really simple and cheap solution may just pop up, or there maybe no problem at all and it all works fine.

You never know until you try

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@Dex... brilliant.  Really, like the idea of being able to arrest backward motion.

@sailhmb... yes, been looking at electric winches.  Strap around a tree and an electric or even a drill winch would make short work of it.

@Dart96... thanks, this is a practical approach.  I am in Northeast US.  There is ice on my lake so season is over.  Location is shuttered as well, so hard to get over there though i sent a request to access it to have a look in light of all said here.  I agree with your approach and it is kind of my prefered method of operating.  I am tempted to extend it a little further and say that i could just go ahead and get myself in trouble and find my way clear.  I always do.  Heh.  

Quad is probably a notch more than i can go, but portable electric winch?  No problem. Have other uses for that anyway.  You are right that until i size it all up as a practical issue at the location, the actual solution may not present.  I do agree i am in for wider, low pressure tyres, but will now also consider multiple tyres.  The cost there is not concerning... 

The slight twist on the getting in trouble method would be to go down one increment in size which actually represents an almost 100 pound reduction in weight.  But it also means fewer crew, a smaller, less capable boat, slower overall, and an almost marginal weight capacity with crew.  Don't relish that.  My lake is small but once a year for two glorious weeks, i will get to sail on Lake Champlain, and i'm going to want the extra size and capacity at that point...

Thanks guys!  Really appreciate all of the obvious good will.  

 

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On 19/12/2017 at 6:21 PM, woofy said:

Thanks Dart96... In my case, 300 lbs is "all up."   Hull weight is a little over 240 lbs.

So yes, 340-ish with the trolley.  

Tackle and an eye an interesting idea.  Not sure I could get that cleared there.  Someone invariably would whack themselves on it.  

I am beginning to despair a little of this.  Perhaps I should consider something a little more like a Laser 2.  Already discounted to Wayfarer on account of weight, but beginning to think 300 is too much.  Hard to know.  Wish I could try it out at this location, but that's not going to happen.  

Woofy

 

 

My Weta is about 130 kg + dolly + sailing stuff = about 330 lb

I have a steep ramp, but not slippery. I can climb the ramp with a bit of effort.

It helped A LOT to put cheap plastic pneumatic wheels with bearings + a front little wheel to the dolly. With this, I can PUSH the boat out and not PULL.

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I have a steep ramp at Lymington and often have problems with my hands, neck and back so to get my ISO dinghy / trimaran testbed project in and out I use an electric wheelchair.

Everybody laughed until I hitched it up and went away with no problem. I have another with a more powerful motor now and fatter tyres which will be a lot beer again.

Basically I just take out the seat and made up a simple hitch post that the dolly drops on with a locking pin.

I'm going to making another one as just a two wheeler with a long drag pole to take up less space to make it easier to move in the car but will probably leave it at the club with a solar charger to keep it ready for action.

Also sailing a Spitfire catamaran and the balloon tyres making moving around a complete doddle.

Getting around car park at speed:

View from side in car park:

 

Getting up the ramp:

and finally a bit of wheelying about:

 

 

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While wide tyres at low pressure are great for rolling over soft ground, they also float real well which can be a pain when it comes to getting the dinghy off the dolly.  It's best if the dolly sinks.  The dolly cradle can't come up the sides of the hull much at all as this the boat ideally needs to be able to float off it in pretty much any direction so you can launch head to wind regardless of when the shoreline is.

 

Ken

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Fill the wheels with water instead of air to make a trolly a sinker.  You can purchase a water hose fitting that mates to a tire valve to do this.

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