Make sure she's safe with these tips.
Even if your boat wasn’t designed as a trailer-sailer, you
can save a lot of money by, if she’s a suitable size, trailing her home or to a
suitable, low-cost location for the winter. It’s a scary sight seeing your
pride and joy, far out of her element, swaying along a busy road. But despite
their unwieldy looks, yachts are far more secure on a trailer than they first
appear. Remember that the majority of the weight is in the keel, which sits in
the ideal place – low down and right over the trailer’s axles.
That’s not to say you can relax when tying her on. First,
you need to think of the forces involved. You need to keep the boat tied down,
to stop her jumping around. Ratchet straps are best for this as they are
extremely unlikely to slip off. They are easy to overtighten, so make sure they
are pulling the boat down in column with a hull support, to avoid deforming the
boat.. You need a minimum of two, one at the bow and one at the stern – but one
in line with each support is not a bad idea, as long as it will not damage the
superstructure on deck.
So now you’ve stopped the boat from bouncing or moving
side-to-side – but what these straps may not do is prevent the boat from
sliding forwards or backwards, or prevent it from twisting. For this, you need
the equivalent of springs, a set on each side. Ratchet straps are still
preferred for this job – but ropes are acceptable here – make sure they’re man
enough for the job. You can use a trucker’s hitch-type knot to secure them, and
it’s worth, as shown in the picture, frapping the lines – that is to say using
a purchase between the equivalent ropes on each side, to tighten them up. Once
secured with a line on each side, one
stopping the boat moving forwards and another stopping her moving
backwards, these will also stop any rotation.
Finally, make sure any tails are tied off, and give the boat
a shake to make sure there’s no movement before you set off. It’s worth
stopping a few miles down the road to check all is still as it should be. And,
learning from experience, make sure the lightboard is securely attached. Last winter my lightboard detached
itself halfway home, resulting in sparks and a few scuffed and crushed bulbs…
Top Tip: Trailers are rarely built with tie down points in
exactly the right poisition – but
PBO’s Deputy Editor David Pugh uses hefty u-bolts, which clamp around
the trailer frame, to position the tie-down points exactly where he needs them.