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Dinghy Hand Launching Cart


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My dinghy, 12 ft 225 pounds, is on a heavy steel road trailer.  I keep my boat on my camp site for the season.  I have about 100 feet to get to the waters edge.  Cross a gravel road, then down a gravel ramp.  I don't want to be hooking the thing up to my van to go 100 feet, but it's way too heavy to drag up on the road trailer.

Wondering where I can find plans for an inexpensive hand launching cart?  I have seen the commercially available ones, but they cost more than my 50+ year old boat is probably worth.

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Not sure about plans, after all, every boat will be different. But the concept is simple. A triangle with a handle with some supports to suit the shape of the boat. Just find a picture of something that suits and build something similar.

Can you weld, or are you restricted to timber?

If you can't weld, you still might find it economical to cut up the metal and take it to a welder (seven small joins - one at each corner of a triangle, one to weld on each axle and two for a t bar pull handle). Then make a wooden/ply support frame to fit the boat.

Boat trolleys seem to be more common in Australia than the US (basically every sailing dinghy has one) so let me know if you need photos.

But think about the position of the main axle. The closer to the center of gravity of the boat it is, the easier the lift on the front handle; although if you are too balanced, the trolley will kick up on you as you lift the front for launching. But if you're installing a front jockey wheel, that's a different matter.

Also, if there's a motor, you'll need to axle under the transom and a front jockey wheel.

But if the boat is heavy, it can still be a dog to pull up a moderately steep ramp. More so single handed.

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3 hours ago, TBW said:

 

What Rambler describes is a typical 505 dolly (trolley). The trailers are made to take the boat and dolly together.

In my case I have an old road trailer like you. When I move my 505 around I use an old seitech that went with a V15. The 505 is 280 lbs. The real Seitech is now called Dynamic Dolly. yep. Like $500 new.

So if you want plans you might fish around for 505 trolleys dollies (note that foreigners sometimes call them trolleys. As you are in Canada this may or may not apply :-)

WoodenBoat years ago had a plan for a "buckboard trailer" or soemthing. Bicycle wheels -- 16" or 20" BMX wheels are perfect for this sort of thing but you have to deal with the single side support. I had a baby stroller like that (20" alloy racing bmx wheels--not kidding) but the hubs were special.

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14 minutes ago, spankoka said:

One hundred feet of gravel with a 225 pound boat boat on a dolly? You might want to keep the van and trailer. 

Or like someone at my last club (where the boat was light enough but the sand flat wide) add a tow hitch to the dolly and get an ATV with a tow bar 

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8 hours ago, spankoka said:

One hundred feet of gravel with a 225 pound boat boat on a dolly? You might want to keep the van and trailer. 

I used to walk my 505 500 yds each way up a hill. The last 100 through the sand dunes. It really wasnt any big deal. We walked the V15 a mile each way for a couple years. Thats on the seitech.

The longest I have ever walked av300 lb dinghy on road trailer was ovrr a mile. It was the literal last mile to Avalon after car quit.

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15 minutes ago, fastyacht said:

I used to walk my 505 500 yds each way up a hill. The last 100 through the sand dunes. It really wasnt any big deal. We walked the V15 a mile each way for a couple years. Thats on the seitech.

The longest I have ever walked av300 lb dinghy on road trailer was ovrr a mile. It was the literal last mile to Avalon after car quit.

sisyphus-shadow.jpg

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11 hours ago, spankoka said:

One hundred feet of gravel with a 225 pound boat boat on a dolly? You might want to keep the van and trailer. 

This is another reason I am hesitant to spend much on a cart.  The gradient isn't steep, I am guessing the parking area on our camp site is ~ 10 feet above the water, but I can see myself spending $600 on a cart, towing it up by hand once and deciding it wasn't really worth the bother and going straight back to the van and trailer method.  Unfortunately no one to borrow from to try it out.  Lots of power boats, canoes and kayaks on our island, but I think only one other sailboat- a beach cat I don't even know how they launch.  They seem to leave there boat anchored in a couple feet of water, but I can't see myself doing that.  Seems a good way to lose your dinghy, pretty exposed, about 7 miles of fetch leading up to the shoreline.

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I've got a Sunfish dolly that I'm selling for our program.  It looks nearly brand new.  We want to get $250 US plus shipping if you want to save the hassle of building your own.  A new one is $500 US.  

sunfish_dolly.jpg

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You may want to consider a trailer tongue dolly.   That way you can keep using your trailer and you just put the dolly with wheels under the hitch and used the T handle to pull the trailer.  Since you don't have a lot of elevation to gain, this may be the easiest, lease expensive solution.   Harbor Freight has them for $65US, I see one at Canadian Tire for $99.   

 

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48 minutes ago, Champlain Sailor said:

You may want to consider a trailer tongue dolly.   That way you can keep using your trailer and you just put the dolly with wheels under the hitch and used the T handle to pull the trailer.  Since you don't have a lot of elevation to gain, this may be the easiest, lease expensive solution.   Harbor Freight has them for $65US, I see one at Canadian Tire for $99.   

 

This seems like a good option. Easy down to the water and to get back up I can enlist my young lad or wife to push if necessary.  Would also be handy at home for moving other trailers around.

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We built a trailer tonge dolly for club heavy weight dinghies; worked well. Allows two people to pull easily and there is often a member of the public to help push.

 

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3 hours ago, sailhmb said:

Can you put a winch on the camp site?

That's an interesting idea.  Trailer has a winch.  Just run the winch line up the camp site.  Worth a try.  

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I used to build the trolleys for my dinghies out of old glassfibre surf-masts. They are cheap or even free and a solid basis for some laminate (Epoxy preferred). The most expensive parts were the wheels. If they are big enough it should be fairly easy to pull the boat even on gravel.

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I moved a U20 loaded with extra junk across a gravel yard with this:

https://trailervalet.com/shop/trailer-valet-5x/

It would dig holes in the loose and deep gravel sections if I didn't have enough weight on the tongue.  Extra weight (me standing) on the tongue usually resolved that, but the $10 solution was a large "welcome mat" placed in front of the wheel whenever it really dug in.

It has an adapter that you attach to a cordless drill and then let the drill do the cranking for you.  Given the weight of the U20, trailer, and extra stuff in it, I bought a high torque Milwaukee drill, but with the weight you're talking about, you can probably use any drill.

This post didn't start out as a garage sale, but if you're interested and want a "gently used" model, PM me.

 

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You could easily knock something together with some 4x1 timber. A basic triangle with the handle at a slight angle forward, bevel the longitudinal where the handle fits between them so the joins are snug. Use epoxy. Put some ply triangles on the underside of the aft corners, across the longitudinals aft of the handle, above and below the longitudinals, and on each side of the top of the handle where you will drill a hole to put an aluminum tube through for a pulling handle. Axle goes directly under the aft cross piece of the triangle. Attach suitable shaped supports to the trolley above the aft crass piece and about 1 metre aft if the handle. Use decent wheels, preferably inflatable if you are dragging over gravel. 
 

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On 1/30/2021 at 12:00 PM, TBW said:

That's an interesting idea.  Trailer has a winch.  Just run the winch line up the camp site.  Worth a try.  

include a 12v winch in your options. Your car battery can be the power source or you can bring a smaller portable battery.  I have done both and a little chemical energy assist is a time and body saver.

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Something like this?  There are others too, this one is, um minimalist.  Where to leave boat while you take care of the trailer, especially with non sailors around yelling at you to hurry up is a problem.  To say nothing of drive up ramp ferries.... anyway, haven’t bought one yet, so I can’t give you a rating.  The ratings on this one all over the place, but I like the idea.

https://www.amazon.com/Biltek-Trailer-Electric-Vehicle-Maneuver/dp/B01M1O94Y6/ref=sr_1_15?dchild=1&keywords=motorized+trailer+dolly&qid=1612239048&sr=8-15

843C15C6-A308-48E4-863C-37DCD8DA3D09.jpeg

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13 hours ago, Amati said:

Where to leave boat while you take care of the trailer, especially with non sailors around yelling at you to hurry up is a problem.  

Fortunately it's a semi private ramp and not too busy.  There is a dock you can leave the boat at, but if the docks full there is also a beach you can drag the boat up onto while you get combobulated, tie off to a tree or whatever.

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1 minute ago, TBW said:

Fortunately it's a semi private ramp and not too busy.  There is a dock you can leave the boat at, but if the docks full there is also a beach you can drag the boat up onto while you get combobulated, tie off to a tree or whatever.

It’s an unfortunate argument for rotomolded boats- just bang the shit out of them. :mellow:

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28 minutes ago, Amati said:

It’s an unfortunate argument for rotomolded boats- just bang the shit out of them. :mellow:

My dinghy is aluminum.  Been getting beat on for 54 years and no beach wear to speak of.

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16 hours ago, Amati said:

Something like this?  There are others too, this one is, um minimalist.  Where to leave boat while you take care of the trailer, especially with non sailors around yelling at you to hurry up is a problem.  To say nothing of drive up ramp ferries.... anyway, haven’t bought one yet, so I can’t give you a rating.  The ratings on this one all over the place, but I like the idea.

https://www.amazon.com/Biltek-Trailer-Electric-Vehicle-Maneuver/dp/B01M1O94Y6/ref=sr_1_15?dchild=1&keywords=motorized+trailer+dolly&qid=1612239048&sr=8-15

843C15C6-A308-48E4-863C-37DCD8DA3D09.jpeg

The max speed of 22 feet per minute will be a problem if you have to go very far at all.

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5 hours ago, ride2live said:

The max speed of 22 feet per minute will be a problem if you have to go very far at all.

That is pretty slow.  I’m wondering how much you might use something like it if you’re using it only to go up hills you couldn’t do by yourself.....

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I reckon my situation is similar to TBW's. Fairly steep ramp (Solent, UK) and a position in the boat park around 100yds from and probably 10ft above the HW line.

My boat is nudging 150kg...over 300lbs. My trolley is an old, cheaply but skilfully made one. The fact that the bow can be lifted with one finger, ready for pulling, shows the axle must be only just astern of the fulcrum.

I always aim to pull her out and park her singlehanded. I'm 5ft 8, currently 30lbs overweight and middle-aged. It's a good bit of high-intensity exercise, it feels good to know I can still manage it and I'll be gutted when I find I can't.

Hard work though, made infinitely worse if there is gravel on the slipway. I occasionally shovel a 6ft wide path through the stones. Lasts a few weeks in calm weather.

I made the mistake of fitting solid rubber tyres. It's good to know you'll never have a puncture, but it is arduous to have to pull the load vertically over every stone and imperfection in the path, rather than having pneumatic tyres that deform slightly to let the load roll unobstructed, horizontally through.

I've bought pneumatic tyres now, but it occurred to me to look for those massive tyres that catamarans use. Not cheap, but the wider I spread the load, the less trouble it will be to move. I guess I could fit a longer axle and put a pair of standard pneumatic trolley wheels at each end - handy if one tyre gets punctured, too.

I made a handy 5-to-1 tackle (200ft of 10mm braided line) with two double-blocks, and discreetly buried a piece of alloy pipe vertically at the top of the slipway, into which I can drop a steel rod with a hook to anchor one of the blocks...so if I can't find the energy to pull the boat up the traditional way, I can haul it up instead. In theory.  I never actually fitted a skid to the front of my trolley so I haven't tried it yet. 

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I haven't tried the battery operated dollys, but I'd try the simply, manual trailer dolly first.   I have been surprised how well you can move a loaded trailer  on level ground with one of these.   If your ramp is steep, this may not work, but if it is fairly gradual, I think it will be enough.  I find that sometimes I plant both feet, then pull the trailer to me by leaning backward and letting my body weight pull the boat up 2' or so.   Then take a step back, and do the same thing.   If you only need to gain 8-10' of elevation up a reasonable grade, this is not overly taxing.

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Also, it's worth having a couple of small plastic 'chocks' tied so they trail close behind the wheels. If it's a steep ramp the chocks allow you to take a break (as many breaks as your state of exhaustion requires) without any sliding back down the ramp. 

Note to self: buy chocks. Mine went overboard when I capsized in June 2016. That's five years of harder work than necessary.

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21 hours ago, Amati said:

That is pretty slow.  I’m wondering how much you might use something like it if you’re using it only to go up hills you couldn’t do by yourself.....

A guy made a dolly puller out of an old snow blower.  We can have a long steep ramp in the Fall.  Anyways...it was slow, even though it was much faster than 22 feet per minute.  So slow he used it once and after it sat derelict in our boat yard for a while, we had him take it home.

I'm focused on an ATV with a tow bar that could pull two Seitech/Dynamics at a time.  Somebody would be designated as the night's volunteer driver to pull two Laser/ILCAs at a time.

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54 minutes ago, WCB said:

A guy made a dolly puller out of an old snow blower.  We can have a long steep ramp in the Fall.  Anyways...it was slow, even though it was much faster than 22 feet per minute.  So slow he used it once and after it sat derelict in our boat yard for a while, we had him take it home.

I'm focused on an ATV with a tow bar that could pull two Seitech/Dynamics at a time.  Somebody would be designated as the night's volunteer driver to pull two Laser/ILCAs at a time.

And the noise of a snow thrower.....:blink:.  That would be jarring after a nice sail.... I never thought to measure the speed of my old one.  But that was slow enough so I’d use a shovel when it wasn’t too bad.  
maybe a self propelled lawn mower?  (Wonder if they’re rated for towing?).:lol:

well fuck me!  The things you can find on the web.  It tows a person, on the flat at least.  It kind of opens up a plethora of self propelled lawn tools to Frankenhacking...:)

 

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Have seen 500 pound dinghy on road trailer launched with Yamaha gas golf cart. Need the brakes sorted better than those on your average livery cart at the municipal course though. I move my trailer boats around my yard with a 14hp belt drive lawn mower or my 20 hp hydro drive. Hydrostatic drive is much better in marginal traction situations because it launches softer.

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I'm keen to make it easier, but the considerable labour of hauling the boat out, only needs to be reduced - made manageable, every time, without a Herculean effort.

Part of the fun of singlehanding a boat that's meant to need a crew of two, is not needing two to sail a boat that daunts most people (or, that's what I choose to believe)...

...so if I ended each trip by hooking up a towing-machine which noisily or conspicuously did all the work, I'd go the whole way and make sure the boat's a Boston Whaler. :lol:

 

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14 hours ago, WCB said:

A guy made a dolly puller out of an old snow blower.  We can have a long steep ramp in the Fall.  Anyways...it was slow, even though it was much faster than 22 feet per minute.  So slow he used it once and after it sat derelict in our boat yard for a while, we had him take it home.

I'm focused on an ATV with a tow bar that could pull two Seitech/Dynamics at a time.  Somebody would be designated as the night's volunteer driver to pull two Laser/ILCAs at a time.

A 6x6 is better than an atv. Heavier and has a lower body hull which protects the under carriage from rusting.

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14 hours ago, Amati said:

And the noise of a snow thrower.....:blink:.  That would be jarring after a nice sail.... I never thought to measure the speed of my old one.  But that was slow enough so I’d use a shovel when it wasn’t too bad.  
maybe a self propelled lawn mower?  (Wonder if they’re rated for towing?).:lol:

well fuck me!  The things you can find on the web.  It tows a person, on the flat at least.  It kind of opens up a plethora of self propelled lawn tools to Frankenhacking...:)

 

My father had this beast of a self propelled reel mower. Loved that thing. Big wheels. Better for mowing the swamp.

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I checked our camp ground rules.  No motorised unlicensed vehicles permitted.  So, Guess that rules out ATVs and Garden tractors.  Possibly self propelled lawn mowers too.

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2 hours ago, sailhmb said:

A 6x6 is better than an atv. Heavier and has a lower body hull which protects the under carriage from rusting.

A 6x6 is overkill for two Lasers but thank you.  It doesn't need to get wet, just near the water's edge, to the top of the ramp.  

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I expect some kind of human-powered tricycle could take most of the hard labour out of hauling out. I don't think it's my legs that hurt first, pulling my boat up. 

With a little adjustment, the weight of the trolley pressing down on the rear tyres would guarantee traction; and the cheapness and variety of cycle gear-sets would allow selection of a rock-bottom crawler gear for getting the heavy load moving, plus a few intermediate gears for a sensible pace on a flat path.

Might attract some amusement from by-standers, but it'd be much healthier for the spine and muscles of the man doing the work, than all that combined lifting and pulling.

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Perhaps not entirely pertinent, but when moving my ISO trimaran test bed around I used my uncle's electric wheelchair much to the amusement of people at the harbour - several videos here:

 

 

 

I did have a far more powerful scooter but unfortunately it got smashed up by a car driving into it and leaving it mangled.

However, I have just ordered one of these kits with big fat tyres and winch motor:

image.png.e59846db4d0e5ceed6cfccc2c05e1d63.png

I'm knocking up a frame (kind of similar to this) and will see how we go:

image.png.d2a2f6750c75c26368bfc94101bda9d5.png

I can upgrade motor quite easily if required and once tested I'll see about updating the ratios as it is very slow indeed.

Should be able to put the motor on a locking hinge so I can potentially lift it forward, slide the chain onto a larger sprocket for faster moving on the flat as it is a bit of a jaunt from the water to the dinghy park.

I'll test the motors with a variety of boats and make some plans for the frames available - for a lot of people the motor may not be needed so a basic frame would be much cheaper and simpler to build.

The plan is then leave it locked and tagged at the dinghy park with a solar panel on it to keep it topped up so anyone at the club can use it.

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17 hours ago, Even Stranger said:

I expect some kind of human-powered tricycle could take most of the hard labour out of hauling out. I don't think it's my legs that hurt first, pulling my boat up. 

With a little adjustment, the weight of the trolley pressing down on the rear tyres would guarantee traction; and the cheapness and variety of cycle gear-sets would allow selection of a rock-bottom crawler gear for getting the heavy load moving, plus a few intermediate gears for a sensible pace on a flat path.

Might attract some amusement from by-standers, but it'd be much healthier for the spine and muscles of the man doing the work, than all that combined lifting and pulling.

I agree with this.  Since you have the non-motorized rule, something like this with wider tiers would work:  https://www.amazon.com/Schwinn-Meridian-Tricycle-24-Inch-Wheels/dp/B0823BKPQC

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3 hours ago, sailhmb said:

Adventure - nice post. 

please add more when you finish the powered dollies.

Certainly will do.

Just waiting for lockdown to end - I've got my first vaccination next Tuesday which is fantastic then the booster 12 weeks after.

Cannot wait as I've been super careful for nearly 12 months now as I'm "clinically vulnerable".

Can't wait to get back out on the water and just seeing people!

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  • 2 weeks later...
1 hour ago, blunderfull said:

WCB- are you poking fun here or is that how you guys refer to Lasers these days?

Pretty sure WCB wasn't poking fun.

image.jpeg.41e93ab2ff5293c0aee03535aad0b48d.jpeg

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1 minute ago, blunderfull said:

I’m out of the loop for sure now.   Need to read the ILCA thread.   Damn.

Good luck. The noise to data ratio is pretty challenging. Bottom line is that there are new builders, the Laser Trademark can't be used where Rastegar (LaserPerfomance related companies), so we are using 'ILCA', and referring to Kirby boat as the ILCA Dinghy. In my view, it is a positive move.

 

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4 hours ago, Bruce Hudson said:

Good luck. The noise to data ratio is pretty challenging. Bottom line is that there are new builders, the Laser Trademark can't be used where Rastegar (LaserPerfomance related companies), so we are using 'ILCA', and referring to Kirby boat as the ILCA Dinghy. In my view, it is a positive move.

 

My old Laser logo tatoo I had worked into a bigger tat anyways.    “ILCA” tat?    Pass.

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2 hours ago, blunderfull said:

My old Laser logo tatoo I had worked into a bigger tat anyways.    “ILCA” tat?    Pass.

In the end, blasting around the course in pretty much identical boats is the name of the game - and the Kirby dinghy is famous for close racing pretty much everywhere on the planet. I simply have never met anyone who after a day of close racing and said "man - that logo looked fine today". That level of cosmetic enjoyment simply doesn't exist - or if it does, I haven't seen it. For me, it always was about the boats going the same speed, the close racing, and the great people etc.

West Coast Sailing is now selling new Lasers branded 'ILCA' made by Ovington, which by all accounts are a higher quality build than the LP boats have been in recent years. The best thing is that the supply has become more reliable than it was under LP - so any comparisons between boats are moot since for years new boats in North America have been hard to get.

----

Apologies for my off-topic posts. 

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11 hours ago, blunderfull said:

I’m out of the loop for sure now.   Need to read the ILCA thread.   Damn.

Yes...yes you do.  

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47 minutes ago, WCB said:

Yes...yes you do.  

To be sure, I appreciate the efforts made to upgrade build quality.   I had a couple hulls from Performance Canada (IIRC) in the ‘80’s that had weak cockpit floors and one leaky mast step.   Wouldn’t want to pay current prices and see those same problems.

But still, you had that simple little red class insignia on your truck and people knew what you had going on.   Meant something to a lot of us.

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9 minutes ago, blunderfull said:

To be sure, I appreciate the efforts made to upgrade build quality.   I had a couple hulls from Performance Canada (IIRC) in the ‘80’s that had weak cockpit floors and one leaky mast step.   Wouldn’t want to pay current prices and see those same problems.

But still, you had that simple little red class insignia on your truck and people knew what you had going on.   Meant something to a lot of us.

I don't think that anybody wanted any of this but we're making the best of a tough situation.  The name Laser is hard-wired in so many of us and ILCA does not roll off the tongue in the same way.  That said, it's a boat that is readily available as there are hundreds of thousands of them worldwide.  Our fleet numbers nearly fifty in our storage area and just yesterday I was helping a new member buy a 2012 Laser so that the current owner could buy a 2021 ILCA.  I don't care what they're called, what I care about is being able to find the parts to keep old ones going and people happy and enjoying the sport of sailing.  There are enough hurdles to get people into the sport, the main one being the skill set required, but add to that the need to pay $7-9,000 for a new boat from another class and sailing wouldn't be happening.  I'm selling $1,200 to $4,500 Laser most of the time and getting some people to upgrade to new boats.  It's all good as far as I'm concerned and I'm excited for the future of the class no matter what people call it.  

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