Trailer Follies

Just to set the records straight, I have been a boat owner for the better part of forty years. I am experienced at loading and unloading my boat in a wide variety of lake conditions. Now, for the first time in my life, I am a river rat. My usual ramp location is on a tidal river which can throw a wide variety of conditions an angler’s way. One day it is almost lake calm while the next day a boater is almost facing a raging tidal current and from time to time throw in a bit of wind just for good measure. Loading and unloading in tidal conditions is a hard-earned experience. This is my story, trailer follies, about how I am dealing with two specific factors.

Trailer Follies

Factor number one is a brand shiny new boat trailer. All my prior experiences with boat trailers have been with a Ranger Trail trailer. My ranger trailers have always performed well. They are designed for a specific boat and fit so well it makes using them at the ramp a piece of cake. I never considered buying another brand of a boat trailer would create a ‘how to use’ learning curve, but I was not correct with this assumption. As it turns out my new trailer was built with obvious consideration of the existing Ranger boat but some of the construction principles are entirely different. The new trailer is heavy duty because I wanted a real road warrior. I also wanted it constructed so occasional use in brackish water would not be a problem. I also wanted a few other goodies such as 15” tires and 12” disk brakes, torsion axle and of course I wanted all LED lights on the trailer. I also wanted the trailer to perform in shallow water ramps and be equipped with an upgraded heavy-duty winch system and a bigger Fulton jack. With these specifications, the trailer designer/builder put together one heck of a trailer. Truly a thing of beauty and matched up to my boat perfectly.

Factor number two is learning how to use this new trailer in actual conditions. I did not think this would be a big deal, but clearly, differences do exist. I now have towed this trailer over 800 miles and launched and recovered the boat many times. I quickly discovered the new trailer does not like to be in too deep. As I had requested, I wanted shallow water capability, and for sure the builder delivered on this requirement. Launching and recovering a boat in tidal conditions is a new learning experience. The power of the tidal current can make the process a bit on the spooky side. I have described loading a boat in the current before as more of a controlled crash when the tide is running strong. The wheels on my new trailer set back a bit on the trailer frame and create a condition where the trailer can get in too deep. No longer can I back in with just the very top of the fenders sticking out of the water. It seems the sweet spot requires at least 6” of fender above the water line. I am beginning to think even shallower would be better, but this will be determined as I experiment a bit more.

Now I must confess I really screwed up this week. The river was running strong, and I launched as I usually do. All was well until it was time to return to the ramp and load up for the short trip home. Although I know better and experience has taught me to keep the trailer shallow especially in these conditions, I decided to try it a little deeper this time just to see what would happen. This turned out to be one of those moments where the wife should have been wearing an “I am with stupid” shirt.

With the trailer in the water deeper than usual, I approached the trailer and drove on as I usually would in these conditions. With the trailer in so deep what actually happened was the boat over floated the bunks and landed sideways on the trailer frame. Now I don’t mean a little bit sideways, I was truly sideways, the aft end of the boat actually got hung up on the trailer guide poles. Oh Crap, now what.

I was able to get the boat off the trailer and had the wife pull the trailer forward a little, so I could try loading again. This time the trailer was still too deep; however, the boat stayed on the trailer, but this time the bow of the boat was slightly under the bow roller on the winch post. I had to back off the trailer again, and the wife pulled the trailer up a bit more. After finally getting the boat loaded I shut down the motor and moved forward to hook up the winch strap, and the dang boat slid back down the composite bunk. I started the motor and pulled forward again, shut down the motor and moved forward and the boat slid back again. It seems the boat was still floating a bit when I stepped forward and the slick composite capture bunks did not hold the boat in place. I then just pulled out some more winch strap and cranked the boat into position on the bow roller. Simply put, this just means this trailer wants shallow water. So, the new trailer does indeed have a required learning curve I had not anticipated.

I am so glad there wasn’t anyone around to capture this urination tournament on video. It was indeed an embarrassing moment.  Somehow, I just bet I am not the only person ever to experience a brain fart like this one, but I guess some folks just don’t want others to know about these failing moments. I can genuinely state, after thousands of launches in my life, this was the most embarrassing and dumbest thing I have ever done at a boat ramp. Trailer Follies!

Fish ON!

Bud Kennedy

Check out the story behind Bud’s purchase of his new trailer

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