How to Launch a Sailboat

How to Launch a Sailboat
When wind blows onto a sailboat's main sail, the boat has a tendency to roll over. This rolling action is counter-balanced by a large keel. The keel is on the underside of the boat and depending on the size of your craft, can extend below the bottom of the boat by several feet. Launching a sailboat from your boat trailer into the water so that the keel does not drag bottom requires a different procedure than launching craft with a flat bottom.

Instructions

Difficulty: Moderately Challenging

Things You’ll Need:
  • Tow vehicle Boat trailer designed for your sailboat (2) Wheel chocks 20 feet of sturdy rope
  • Tow vehicle
  • Boat trailer designed for your sailboat
  • (2) Wheel chocks
  • 20 feet of sturdy rope
Step 1
Use a sturdy vehicle, such as a pickup or sport utility vehicle with four wheel drive, when towing a sailboat on a trailer. Do not use a front wheel drive vehicle as you can lose traction when exiting the launch ramp.
Step 2
Back the sailboat trailer down the launching ramp to just before the edge of the water and stop. Place the vehicle in park and set the parking brake while a helper places wheel chocks under each rear wheel of the trailer so that it will not move when the trailer is disconnected from the tow vehicle.
Step 3
Disconnect the boat trailer hitch from the tow vehicle and raise the trailer's tongue jack so that it clears the tow vehicle's hitch ball. Disconnect the trailer's safety chains and wiring harness.
Step 4
Tie a sturdy rope to your tow vehicle's hitch and to the boat trailer's tongue. Release the parking brake and pull the tow vehicle ahead a few feet and stop. Have your helper remove the wheel chocks from the rear of the trailer wheels.
Step 5
Slowly and carefully back the tow vehicle until the boat trailer is completely submerged in the water. Be aware that when the sailboat is in deep enough water, it will float free from the trailer.
Step 6
Pull the tow vehicle forward until the empty trailer is out of the water. Place the wheel chocks back under the rear wheels. Back the tow vehicle up slightly to lessen the tension on the rope. Untie the rope and set it aside.
Step 7
Back the tow vehicle up and hitch the boat trailer to your trailer hitch. Pull the tow vehicle and trailer from the launching area to the parking area.

Tips & Warnings

 
To get your sailboat out of the water, reverse the above procedures.
 
To get your sailboat out of the water, reverse the above procedures.
 
Place or remove wheel chocks by reaching in from the side of the vehicle rather than from the rear. This way if the tow vehicle or boat trailer looses control, you can easily get out of harms way.
 
Place or remove wheel chocks by reaching in from the side of the vehicle rather than from the rear. This way if the tow vehicle or boat trailer looses control, you can easily get out of harms way.

Article Written By Thomas West

Thomas West has been writing professionally since 2002. He earned his M.A. in English at Syracuse University, where he is also pursuing his Ph.D.

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