Cruising on a Trailer Sailer

Grith

Member
300
81
NSW Australia
Hi All Just thought I would open a thread on an alternative type of cruising/sailing lifestyle. 

I have owned trailable sailboats for about 40 years and have camped on these extensively over several periods. 

The longest trip was just over 4 months including on water extended periods with the longest being for around 5 weeks in the Whitsunday’s in northern Queensland Australia. This trip was on a tiny trailable 20 foot dynal sheathed plywood bridge deck catamaran ( Jarcat 6 ) which was 8 foot wide. 

It had a  long bridgedeck double bed and two under cockpit single coffin berths, a maxi stove, sink and bench top on one side and a marine toilet on the other it was minamalist but adequate for a great adventure for a couple then in our fourties. 

I equipped it with twin 100amp batteries, unisolar flexible panels, a compressor fridge, cockpit over boom shade and it had an 18hp outboard which would push it to 15 knots if required. 

We also used the yacht on land as a caravan travelling through the middle of Australia back to the west coast having purchased it on the east coast. 

This was what I call camper sailing as distinct from cruising. No standing headroom, not much carrying capacity and a very light weight yacht. However we sailed out to the outer islands and also sailed through a 35knot blow with big steep waves in our little cat. 

Friends have used a much larger ( tiny by cruising yacht standards ) 25 foot Trailer Sailer ( Court 750) for much more extensive trailer Sailer based cruising for nearly 30 years spending around half of each year travelling and sailing. 

They have spent many months at sea at times especially in the wild and beautiful Kimberley’s region of WA whilst also trailing their yacht to multiple sailing destinations right around Australia on multiple occassions. 

They have sailed in more unique places and done more living on their yacht than the varst magority of big cruising yacht owners. 

I have recently purchased an even larger 28 foot trailable yacht and have just commenced my goal of a similar life. 

My yacht choice is an attempt like theirs to move one step up from camping on board to having a very small but usable home on water that can also be relatively easily be used on land whilst doing 60 knots upwind between ideal but remote cruising grounds. 

My unusual choice has standing headroom at 6 foot 1, an enclosed head (and tiny internal shower), small galley with 2 burner stove, sink, icebox and compressor fridge/freezer,  a generous length large double under the cockpit and another very large v berth along with 1.5 settee berths. 

Whilst large to tow at around 3.2 ton on trailer it is about 2.5 meters wide making it unrestricted in nearly all towing locations. Part of this fairly heavy weight for a 28 foot yacht is its enourmous diesel inboard engine at 180hp making it a very unusual motor sailing package capable of good cruising speeds under sail and 25knots under power fully laden. 

Before the traditionalists start screaming can I say the coasts of Australia have very many rivermouth bars with conditions generally unsuitable for yachts with inadequate power to push out through the waves or the speed to ride the back of those waves back in. We also have tidal areas with currents moving in excess of 6 knots otherwise completely dominating passage planning causing conflict between wind, tide and time. 

Having previously had the luxury of 15knots on my Jarcat it really did open up destinations that were very difficult to access for conventionally speed limited yachts and allowed us to explore areas otherwise too risky for such a small craft. The ability to cross large distances fast in calmer weather windows ( say the morning before the really gusty afternoon sea breeze kicks in) or to run back to cover from sudden storm fronts was great. 

My intention as I transition to retirement is to use my trailable yacht for around half of each year to explore multiple suitable patches of water to sail from lakes and rivers to every inshore cruising destination in Australia and perhaps even ship it across to NZ and do the same for a period over there. 

Just thought I would open this discussion around an alternative to conventional blue water cruising. 

Regards Graeme Imexus 28 Australia 

0AC7E192-E14C-4B6D-9E9D-7F9F841ED5C6.jpeg

7E4F9434-6555-46C2-8FB0-DE8074156F77.jpeg

 
Last edited by a moderator:

Norse Horse

Super Anarchist
4,987
546
The Rock
20 gal of fresh water is small and a 25 gal fuel tank is not going to last long. Added lead ballast is needed over 20 knots. You can see from this it is weight sensitive. If it needs that much motor you have a gas pig. A Mac26 came out for our club races and it was frankly poor upwind and devastated in light air. Not sure but that boat may require signage to tow in AUS. 2.55 beam.

It is a Swan style cabin with a stripe like an 80's Hunter 34 on the windows. http://www.mysailing.com.au/news/the-imexus-28-powersailer-now-available-in-australia

 

Grith

Member
300
81
NSW Australia
Hi Norse Horse  

My yacht has a 140litre stainless diesel tank and consumes 1.6 litres per hour at 5.5-6 knots hull speed cruising giving it a huge range.  It also tows my daughter kneeboarding at 20 plus knots at 18 liters per hour. 

My modified rub rail at 2.5 meters width doesn’t require overwidth towing signs and no permits required even at 2.55 metres wide now in Australia only the overwidth signage as stated. My fresh water capacity is 370 liters including 200 of which are in two 100 litre freshwater ballast bags with fast transfer pump system. With an extra third battery and cruising gear along with the low mounted inboard engine and all the tankage I am no longer using the 730 liters water ballast for sailing in regular conditions as the stability is absolutely fine without it due to this low mounted extra weight. Reaching with big mast head asymmetrical kite in moderate winds might require the movable water ballast but I have yet to test this yet. The 730 liters water ballast extra hull carrying capacity is great as is the double underwater hull extra security. It is always still available to create in five minutes a much more stable yacht again if extreme conditions require this. 

Your sailing comment is similar to some others from club racers around racing basically cruising boats. Most conventional old long shallow keel cruising boats where not speedsters yet had few comments of this nature. Off the breeze my yacht is fine speed wise with a planning stern and up wind she points but isn’t as fast as some more racing oriented yachts . Cruising is generally done off the breeze especially if directly into the wind destinations can be despatched very quickly under motor at planing speeds. 

I have previously owned a 20 foot sportboat type Trailer Sailer with huge Spinnaker Shute launched kite and 2 meter deep stainless encased lead foil drop keel which would cleanup just about every trailable yacht I see sailing in Sat and Sunday fleets and that got similar critism but at the other end of the spectrum. It had the required two berths and internal volume but all the bunk cushions, ports potti, and other stuff never left my shed as it was just stripped for racing. Horses for courses in my view. If I want to race again I will buy a really fast boat and have done the same regarding owning a really comfortable cruising one.  

The thread was designed to discuss trailable cruising alternatives to keel boats not around the cans stuff by weekend sailers but that is where the discussion on Macgregors or alternatives like mine often focus. 

Regards Graeme 

 
Last edited by a moderator:

Grith

Member
300
81
NSW Australia
Hi All

Regarding the comment above from very experienced member here Norse Horse about the Imexus 28 only carrying full sail up to 20 knots. Most trailable yachts start to reef at around this wind speed so its hardly an indication that it's really tender. I don't know what Norse Horse sail's, where and how ( I would be interested to know as it generally informs peoples opinions ) but in fact most modern yachts with large tall rigs start cutting back on sail at not much higher wind speeds this as well.

Much as I am happy to defend Macgregors as I have seen them perform feats and visit places seldom done by other yachts I will state here that the Imexus28 and Australian designed and built Mach28 are a significant step up again in quality and capability both as sailing boats and mini trailable cruising platforms with a different motoring ability to most yachts. Both were commissioned by major sail boat dealers that were also Macgregor distributors at that time after their careful review of the benefits and marketability of the Macgregors but seeking to improve the actual product substantially.  

The briefs were then given to well regarded yacht designers who developed these two similar but different upgraded alternatives. I had a deposit on a Mach28 16 years ago when life took a sudden turn and my trailable cruising sailing dreams were shelved. All these years later I am actually underway again and selected the Imexus28 which in my view is an improvement again on the concept.

Side decks for going forward, more yacht like interior instead of all white fiberglass, an inboard option to remove the big weight hanging over the stern were contributing factors along with many very clever innovations like integrated permanently attached one person mast raising and lowing equipment, bowsprit with self launching anchor, masses of separate storage compartments, built in waste holding tank location and a huge swim platform. 

I was however interested in just discussing using larger trailable yachts of any brand as alternatives to keel boats or catamarans for cruising and comments around the Mac's racing ability seem to indicate Norse Horse may be more a weekend racer than a cruising oriented yachtie but I wait to be corrected.

Regards Graeme  

PS I have just looked up what R2AK2019 is and see its offshore racing sailing. So assume Norse Horse has a racing bent. Yes my yacht is not a racing boat or even a blue water cruiser so perhaps different objectives in a sailing life now from him. I have done the Sydney to Hobart on a Super Maxi (as rail meat and fore-deck hand) in my distant past along with a couple of Perth to Geraldton races in Western Australia and decided that long passage ocean racing just wasn't my scene and it also put me off long distance blue water cruising as well. My preference is a nice half day sail to a secluded beach somewhere and watch the sunset from the back deck, drink in hand preferably with good company!

 
Last edited by a moderator:

Grith

Member
300
81
NSW Australia
Hi Norse Horse Did a bit more research on you. Young 6 meter water ballasted and participation in a 750 mile no motor race challenge. Suggest you might be a bit like me 30 plus years ago. LOL

I was an ex extreme whitewater kayaker, motor racing driver, performance yacht sailor, and a fair number of other fairly out there things as well.

The fastest trailer sailer I personally owned was a direct competitor to your Young water ballast 6 meter. It was a JOG rated 1/8th tonner 6 meter dynal sheathed diagonal layup red cedar flyer and used to beat the 2 probably fairly similar 6 meter Young's I raced against back then. The only faster trailer sailers  were a well sailed Spider 28 and a super lightweighted Ross 780 which were both 8 foot longer.

Age and stage mean those days are over now whilst doing the odd lap around some yacht at 20 plus knots with a skier in tow still with  a 9 meter mast (at a very respectful long distance of course!) is a bit of a stir as they limp back to harbor on a windless day. LOL.

Regards Graeme

 
Last edited by a moderator:

Norse Horse

Super Anarchist
4,987
546
The Rock
Hi Norse Horse  

My yacht has a 140litre stainless diesel tank and consumes 1.6 litres per hour at 5.5-6 knots hull speed cruising giving it a huge range.  It also tows my daughter kneeboarding at 20 plus knots at 18 liters per hour. 

My modified rub rail at 2.5 meters width doesn’t require overwidth towing signs and no permits required even at 2.55 metres wide now in Australia only the overwidth signage as stated. My fresh water capacity is 370 liters including 200 of which are in two 100 litre freshwater ballast bags with fast transfer pump system. With an extra third battery and cruising gear along with the low mounted inboard engine and all the tankage I am no longer using the 730 liters water ballast for sailing in regular conditions as the stability is absolutely fine without it due to this low mounted extra weight. Reaching with big mast head asymmetrical kite in moderate winds might require the movable water ballast but I have yet to test this yet. The 730 liters water ballast extra hull carrying capacity is great as is the double underwater hull extra security. It is always still available to create in five minutes a much more stable yacht again if extreme conditions require this. 

Your sailing comment is similar to some others from club racers around racing basically cruising boats. Most conventional old long shallow keel cruising boats where not speedsters yet had few comments of this nature. Off the breeze my yacht is fine speed wise with a planning stern and up wind she points but isn’t as fast as some more racing oriented yachts . Cruising is generally done off the breeze especially if directly into the wind destinations can be despatched very quickly under motor at planing speeds. 

I have previously owned a 20 foot sportboat type Trailer Sailer with huge Spinnaker Shute launched kite and 2 meter deep stainless encased lead foil drop keel which would cleanup just about every trailable yacht I see sailing in Sat and Sunday fleets and that got similar critism but at the other end of the spectrum. It had the required two berths and internal volume but all the bunk cushions, ports potti, and other stuff never left my shed as it was just stripped for racing. Horses for courses in my view. If I want to race again I will buy a really fast boat and have done the same regarding owning a really comfortable cruising one.  

The thread was designed to discuss trailable cruising alternatives to keel boats not around the cans stuff by weekend sailers but that is where the discussion on Macgregors or alternatives like mine often focus. 

Regards Graeme 
There are a few shoal draft trailerables I like, the sharpies, many NZ and AUS designs, the S2, early MacGregors and Ventures, Seaward 26 and the Perry 32 trailer sailer.

There is a thread here you may like to check out too.




 

Grith

Member
300
81
NSW Australia
Hi Norse Horse Thanks for the links they were really interesting. 

My comment however is that drop keels with bulbs are not great in uncharted waters or for drying out in significant tidal areas. My own flier took out the keel case and nearly sank after hitting a sand bar at around 9-10 knots after a power boat had snagged a rounding mark and dragged it onto a sand bar. The joys of leading the fleet planing under kite. 

Swing keels might sail like crap upwind comparatively but do provide an alternative depth sounder when encountering that coral bommie or prominent rock in muddy waters caused by fast moving tidal flows. I have performed quick course changes after the dreaded bang with little damage as the keel has partially retracted into the case. 

Drying out on a falling tide late at night or in the very early hours with a bulb is also really tricky. 

Finally launching ramps in remote locations or into waterways not usually frequented by yachts often will often not cope with these type of yachts. 

I did lots of research before my ultimate  selection. Regards Graeme 

 

Steam Flyer

Sophisticated Yet Humble
44,189
9,573
Eastern NC
I trailer-cruised with my wife, and occasionally our dog, for about 12 years. We went all over the east and gulf coast of the US, including a number of lakes.

I never felt the desire to motor fast. Highways and gas stations are congested enough that a smaller boat was more desirable than room for everything. The boat was very simple, our water system was a series of jugs..... going out longer or further into the boonies, bring more...... but over the years I upgraded the key systems so that everything worked smoothly and easily and reliably. For example I could lower the mast underway so that we could go under bridges into smaller rivers that never saw another cruiser. I improved the reefing system so that we could shorten down for lunch, or for bad weather, with no hassle and plenty comfort/security for my wife.

Graeme I am glad you like your boat. It doesn't appeal to me in the slightest.

My advice is to not skimp on trailer maintenance.

FB- Doug

 

Pertinacious Tom

Importunate Member
62,026
1,876
Punta Gorda FL
Whilst large to tow at around 3.2 ton on trailer it is about 2.5 meters wide making it unrestricted in nearly all towing locations. Part of this fairly heavy weight for a 28 foot yacht is its enourmous diesel inboard engine at 180hp making it a very unusual motor sailing package capable of good cruising speeds under sail and 25knots under power fully laden. 

Before the traditionalists start screaming can I say the coasts of Australia have very many rivermouth bars with conditions generally unsuitable for yachts with inadequate power to push out through the waves or the speed to ride the back of those waves back in. We also have tidal areas with currents moving in excess of 6 knots otherwise completely dominating passage planning causing conflict between wind, tide and time. 
Hah! You have a mast on a motorboat and I generally disapprove but generally such boats aren't any good for wakeboarding nor surfing in dangerous bars.

Yours seems to be an exception and sounds like fun. Also, just saying "180 hp diesel in 28 ft sailboat" cracks me up and boats are here to amuse us.

 

TBW

Member
431
240
I do a kind of camp cruising thing on my 21 foot Sharpie.  My wife, 2 kids and a dog.  We were out for nearly a month this summer.  We can sleep on board; the wife and kids in the tiny cabin and the dog and I in the cockpit under the boom tent.  We try to beach every night though.  

A 21 foot Sharpie is a small boat, but it can carry a lot of camping gear and the boat only needs a little mud or sand to beach on.  Once we are ashore we are pretty comfortable, we have a nice 3 season tent and a 12 x 12 kitchen gazebo with standing headroom.  We dismount the solar system from the boat and carry it to the camp site and run our personal electronics off a 150 watt inverter.  We also carry our stove up to the camp site. 

Camp set up can be kind of a big deal especially in rugged or hilly terrain, so we will often stay at a camp site for several days; snorkeling, kayaking and hiking.  Trailer is a single axle galvanised we tow behind our minivan.

 

TQA

Super Anarchist
1,208
35
Caribbean
I had a Jaguar 22 which was a UK built clone of a Catalina 22. Mine was the swing keel version. 

I towed it up to Troon in Scotland one year and over 10 weeks sailed it to Arran, round the Mull of Kintyre to Gigha and on to Jura Plockton Skye and Stornoway. On the return I used the Crinan Canal..

Next summer I trailed it down to the Adriatic and sailed it from Pula through the Kornati to Albania and back.

25 gallons of water and 4 gallons of petrol for the 8 hp outboard was fine. Mine had a pop top but I used the cockpit more with a simple awning rigged over the boom. This was in the late 80s so navigation was compass paper chart and depth sounder. 

I had a great time and learned a lot. This converted me to to a cruising lifestyle and I now have 15 years of being a full time liveaboard. 

Lucy Lockett.jpg

IMG_2496.JPG

 

SemiSalt

Super Anarchist
7,789
287
WLIS
Trailer sailing requires coping with various things, and it's viable in proportion to the crew's ability to cope. Back in the day, there was a magazine article about 4 people taking a 6 week cruise in Alaska on a Cal 21. I reaction was that one could hardly choose less suitable boat. Zero storage room. Barely room for 4 people to lie down at the same time, and hardly enough headroom for anyone to sit up. It was designed to be a sporty day boat. But they coped, apparently.

2019-02-12_1158.png

 

SemiSalt

Super Anarchist
7,789
287
WLIS
A big factor in trailer sailing is raising the mast. The crew can step the mast of a Capri 22 if there are a couple of them and they are young and strong. Anything much larger, and you are starting to think some specialized gear is in order. Or, you put the mast in a tabernacle.

Phil Bolger designed a fleet of boats that could be trailer-sailers. One that I like the look of is the Long Micro.  This picture shows a nice one. I'm not sure the trailer arrangement is the best, but you can clearly see how the unstayed mast is pivoted in a tabernacle.  The boat has a long shoal keel so the interior is not obstructed by a CB trunk.

2019-02-12_1210.png

 

Grith

Member
300
81
NSW Australia
Hi All In response re mast raising. The Imexus has a really very clever permenantly attached mast raising system with an A frame and multi purchase block system on the bow which then runs back to one of the sheet winches. The A frame is mounted to stauntion bases either side and in addition a pair of baby side stays are precisely located to remain tensioned during the raising and lowering process. This combined with a mast roller on the targa bar results in a quick 1 person mast raising process which my slight 15 yo daughter has managed herself. It also enables very easy on water lowing for bridges and powerlines. 

For some above yes I entirely understand thoughts about having such a big engine on board but in a cruising remote costal destinations situation as distinct from normal around a home base day sailing or blue water cruising there are advantages that make it attractive. Also quick runs to offshore destinations otherwise a bit too challenging for inshore trailer sailers  become viable. 

Perhaps I should post some videos of yachts coming to grief crossing breaking river mouth bars as the following wave caught them due to inadequate speed or being swept backwards on tidal currents or sudden flows down rivers to show some examples of why. 

Generally I motor when required at under hull speed like others but both the ability to do so much more and the huge alternator are really nice features to have. 

Regards Graeme 

 
Last edited by a moderator:

Grith

Member
300
81
NSW Australia
Hi All Regardless of all the above and some focus on my admittedly very unusual choice I was really seeking to open a discussion on using larger conventional trailer sailers as semi live aboard cruising platforms rather than smaller ones for lovely camping trips as highlighted by some. 

In Australia a large number of early, semi and now much older retirees use large caravans and motorhomes as part of each year living bases returning to their retained homes for commitments, grandchildren and established neighbourhoods and friends for the rest of the year. 

This is distinct from selling up everything and moving to a trailer park or a mobile life or moving to a permanent live aboard cruiser of some kind. 

It is the boating/yachting edge of this crowd I was seeking to engage in the Trailer Sailer alternative along with some who were considering larger cruising yachts with often limited ability to access new and different cruising grounds without long and sometimes challenging blue water passages.  3-6 months exploring multiple and unusual cruising grounds generally on water but with land transit upwind at 60knots between cruising destinations is my goal and has been a wonderful life for several now much older friends of mine. 

This requires in my view standing headroom, storage, decent toilet facilities, comfortable beds( berths) and carrying capacity for adequate water, fuel and the like. 

These large trailable mini cruisers will generally weigh in between 4,000 to 7,500 lbs on trailer and mostly require a 4x4 rather than family sedan to tow. 

Large caravans however require these same vehicles and in this country there are big numbers of Grey nomads ( as we call them) out on the roads. Obviously small families seeking a cruising experience could also go this way but  too many in the cramped conditions might be a put off for some. 

We have a variety of often relatively cheap large trailer sailers potentially available to convert from weekend use to this mini trailable cruiser style of yacht. RL28’s, Magnum 850’s, Court 750’s, Beale 850’s, South Coast 25’s are just some of these available here. 

All are around 25-28 foot long, under 8 foot 4 wide and can be launched off realatively shallow trailable power boat ramps. 

Macgregor yachts in the US built much lighter versions successfully capitalising on exactly this niche though perhaps with an even more caravan alternative focus along with power boat capability which attracted a lot of people very new to sailing. The compromises involved and the huge number of newbies gave these yachts a bit of a reputation but many very experienced sailers have purchased and upgraded these and found them very successful in achieving their goals. 

I would like to focus on these larger TS’s and their potential use as a part year cruising platform. 

Re comments on problems with centreboard cases intruding into accommadation  I attach a photo showing this and with careful layout it is hardly noticeable. The table sides fold down and there is a four bottle wine rack in the middle of the table. :)

Regards Graeme 

FF5FAA01-86AE-4BA4-96FA-1C0C4CA6CD49.png

325B1420-9B8D-4CEB-8A76-2ED89EE6EAC3.png

 
Last edited by a moderator:

Raz'r

Super Anarchist
62,224
5,458
De Nile
Hi All Regardless of all the above and some focus on my admittedly very unusual choice I was really seeking to open a discussion on using larger conventional trailer sailers as semi live aboard cruising platforms rather than smaller ones for lovely camping trips as highlighted by some. 

In Australia a large number of early, semi and now much older retirees use large caravans and motorhomes as part of each year living bases returning to their retained homes for commitments, grandchildren and established neighbourhoods and friends for the rest of the year. 

This is distinct from selling up everything and moving to a trailer park or a mobile life or moving to a permanent live aboard cruiser of some kind. 

It is the boating/yachting edge of this crowd I was seeking to engage in the Trailer Sailer alternative along with some who were considering larger cruising yachts with often limited ability to access new and different cruising grounds without long and sometimes challenging blue water passages.  3-6 months exploring multiple and unusual cruising grounds generally on water but with land transit upwind at 60knots between cruising destinations is my goal and has been a wonderful life for several now much older friends of mine. 

This requires in my view standing headroom, storage, decent toilet facilities, comfortable beds( berths) and carrying capacity for adequate water, fuel and the like. 

These large trailable mini cruisers will generally weigh in between 4,000 to 7,500 lbs on trailer and mostly require a 4x4 rather than family sedan to tow. 

Large caravans however require these same vehicles and in this country there are big numbers of Grey nomads ( as we call them) out on the roads. Obviously small families seeking a cruising experience could also go this way but  too many in the cramped conditions might be a put off for some. 

We have a variety of often relatively cheap large trailer sailers potentially available to convert from weekend use to this mini trailable cruiser style of yacht. RL28’s, Magnum 850’s, Court 750’s, Beale 850’s, South Coast 25’s are just some of these available here. 

All are around 25-28 foot long, under 8 foot 4 wide and can be launched off realatively shallow trailable power boat ramps. 

Macgregor yachts in the US built much lighter versions successfully capitalising on exactly this niche though perhaps with an even more caravan alternative focus along with power boat capability which attracted a lot of people very new to sailing. The compromises involved and the huge number of newbies gave these yachts a bit of a reputation but many very experienced sailers have purchased and upgraded these and found them very successful in achieving their goals. 

I would like to focus on these larger TS’s and their potential use as a part year cruising platform. 

Regards Graeme 
Everyone here knows that the only safe way to cruise is in a welded raw-steel Swain design. Jeesh.

 

Grith

Member
300
81
NSW Australia
Hi All Just a couple of shots of a Trailer Sailer on the road in Australia. One is sleeping on board in the middle of an Australian desert and the other at a gas station out there at sunset. We pulled up near to one roadtrain and came out to find it between two of these monsters. We did the across Australia trip in 3 days from West to East. It would be an epic nearly month long very challenging sail to have moved the yacht by sail/power. Regards Graeme 

916A8E4E-A57E-4292-8796-89265B745628.jpeg

DAC81252-87BA-4078-81D4-6EE0275A6AA9.jpeg

 

Latest posts




Top