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Free Range Human, Sailor, Writer, Artist, Videographer  

Friday, December 6, 2013

2014 BCYC Christmas Lighted Boat Parade Gulfport Fl

Boca Ciega Yacht Club will hold its 29th Annual Lighted Christmas Boat Parade  Saturday December 13th starting around 6 pm.  

The best viewing is along the Gulfport channel, downtown Gulfport and the neighborhoods.  The course below has not changed for this year.  

Here's a video of a past year's parade - it's a bit long but has a nice ending: BCYC LIGHTED BOAT PARADE VIDEO  

SV HideAway All Decked out for Christmas
One of the finer traditions here in the south is the annual Christmas Lighted Boat Parades.  The season swings into action in mid December all along the Gulf Coast.  Our favorite, of course, is sponsored by Boca Ciega Yacht Club on Boca Ciega Bay near Gulfport, FL.  You do not have to be a member to enter the parade but it helps if you have a boat.  To enter call the number on the chart below or follow this link 

2013 BCYC Christmas Boat Parade Route Gulfport Fl
This year's parade is December 14, 2013 starting around 6 pm, touring first the Gulfport Marina then out into Boca Ciega Bay towards downtown, the beach and the Gulfport Pier then on to Town Shores, Pasadena and a long course across the bay to Isla del Sol.  A party for participants follows at Boca Ciega Yacht Club.

Here's a video of last year's parade I shot while standing, and at one point falling, off  a ladder- HO! HO! HO! OW!


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Fiddling About With A Magic Pearl

The Magic Pearl - Secret Gunkhole

In the years before being possessed by a deep draft keel sailboat we plied the skinny waters north of Ft Desoto boat ramp at the mouth of Tampa Bay in a cat-ketch Sea Pearl known as the Magic Pearl.   Magic could sail on her own down wind in less than 12 inches of water.  Once, while sailing the shallows of Mullet Key Bayou, a small dolphin made circles around us, gently nudging the rudder as if to beckon us to change course and follow.   

A typical day sail steered a course northward from the Ft Desoto ramps across Bunces Pass into the shallows until she ran aground.  At which time the crew would lay about on deck napping or watching the clouds form showers, dissipate and reform.   

It was a Zen Experience sans the Effort  

Weaving silently through the narrow passages between small mangrove islands, Magic might well have sailed into centuries past.  Our favorite destination was a larger island covered with shady Australian pines. The island had a small hook of an anchorage known only to members of the Secret Shallow Drafters Sailing Society.  (SSDSS rhymes with ssdss) On a hot summer day a Free Range Human could relax in a circle of eight Aussie pines in full view of the gulf and lie about on soft, white sand in complete sea breeze air-conditioned comfort. 

Arriving late, we left Magic in ankle deep water about 50 feet from shore, threw out a small anchor and ran bare foot across the island towards the gulf sunset.   Our Sea Pearl, a 21 foot open boat, anchored in very shallow water has little need of an anchor light.  This is worth mentioning because its occupants, so intent on racing towards the sun, had left their artificial light generating device safely stored onboard. 

 A Sailor Knows The Sun Does Not Set

Rather, the earth rises as it spins.  Naturally, the rising and spinning of the very earth he is standing upon will cause the above average sailor to loose his equilibrium while making involuntary adjustments to correct the imbalance.   The effect, according to extensive study by a well known science research foundation bar funded by SSDSS, offers a fine explanation as to why sailors are known to walk in an irregular manner, especially after sunset. 

After the earth consumed the sun, the stars also rise.  The crew turned and walked across the island, made larger thanks to the retreating tide, back to the Magic Pearl.  Sharp as they are, the crew was quick to notice that without a moon, the darkness was complete. We walked hand in hand so as not to lose one another, then realized our Magic Pearl had vanished.

There are two accounts of what happened after we stopped, barefooted, to get our bearings. One version alleges screams and running bare feet were involved. The other, not so much, either way, the conversation centered on strange sounds emanating from the blackness in the sand near our feet.  Did I mention we were of bare feet?  

The sound was of silverware clinking together with lots of clinking and lots of ware.  After listening awhile, Linda mentioned her feet were covered with creepy crawlies of the unidentified variety and that she would be departing very soon.   I asked her to bring back a flash light but I could not understand her reply.

Eventually, I found our Magic Pearl fully aground on her flat bottom with one lee board down, the anchor and rode streaked artfully across the beach.  Linda handed over a flashlight with which I scanned the beach.  The skinny light beam revealed only wet sand and sea grass.   I walked towards the gulf bravely, some would say foolishly, declared Linda.  Finding nothing remarkable, I turned off the light and stood silently in the dark of the night.   I began to hear the silverware clinking again about the time I remembered my feet were still unclothed.  

Fiddler Crabs Holding Claws - How Sweet

I Flashed the Light On

The whole beach had turned fairly brown and was moving away from me at a pretty good pace. Thousands of tens of Fiddler Crabs scrambled away with it.  It seemed the entire earth was leaving without taking me along for the ride.  I stumbled; almost fell, as I lost contact with what a typical Free Range Human would construe as reality.   I shut the light off.  Reality returned.  In the night, the earth stood still.

Shortly, I could feel the crabs fiddling, some blue grass perhaps, as they lounged on my bare feet.   They meant me no harm. I apologized for disturbing them and took my leave with their song in my heart.     

The Magic Pearl - Three Rooker Bar

Monday, November 18, 2013

2013 St Petersburg Power and Sailboat Show

 DECEMBER 5th - 8th  

St Petersburg Fl Power and Sailboat Show
You know when fall arrives in the south-the boat shows bloom just across the street from melting clocks and the surreal world of the Dali Museum in downtown St Petersburg FL.  Somehow it all comes together in harmony.  After all, surrealism and sailing, at least on HideAway, are often the same. 

 Sea Pearl and the Dali Museum
  Not to be out done, our very own sailing club, Boca Ciega Yacht Club of Gulfport Florida will be at Booth 133 in Tent 1 near the large fountain which is fortunately outside.  

Boca Ciega Yacht Club St Petersburg Sailboat Show

Here you can watch videos and learn all about  the many BCYC programs from a whole fleet of happy sailors.

Cruising, Racing, Youth and Adult Sailing Classes, Oh my!

Bruce Bingham visits with the SV HideAway Admiral

Be There or Be Keel-Hauled!


Sunday, October 20, 2013

Leading a Sailor to Water Garmin GPSmap 640

Garmin GPSmap 640 on swing arm aboard SV HideAway
Garmin GPSmap 640 on SV HideAway
We were navigating to my son's house in Tampa last weekend using the road mode of our new Garmin GPSmap 640 in an effort to become better acquainted with the high tech device. 

I was growing more upset with it because it was taking us the long way to our destination along all sorts of back streets that were not of our choosing instead of a more direct route using major roads.  

I was about to mention my concerns to the lady in the GPS when all of a sudden she told me to turn right and we found ourselves at a beautiful park right on the Hillsborough River.  

All is forgiven, my son's house was nearby.  

A GPS that knows how to lead a sailor to water is OK in my book.  

Sailing HideAway near Honeymoon Island
Sailing HideAway  anchored near Honeymoon Island FL

Friday, September 13, 2013

Thoughts On Sailing Home

Birds fading light
Sailing HideAway
In the failing light the HideAways headed up, dropped sail, and urged our aged outboard to consciousness.
Linda worked the sails into their resting places while I, unable to see through the downed sails, stood on the stern bridge deck steering a course to the channel the tiller at my side. 

Bruised, battered, soaked and tattered the HideAways crept into the Gulfport Channel with a fairly well shredded main sail and a dingy splintered. 

Gulfport Florida Channel

As HideAway, a Com-Pac 23, surged home running before the swells I stood taller than the bimini watching our little craft below. 

The outboard  gurgling as it pushed us along, a Fish Hawk cried, the splash of a fish somewhere, the roil of a wave. I sensed a sailor’s connection with the mariners of the ancient world.

I Could See for a Thousand  Years

 The boat rolling now, homeward bound, as the wind reached her broadsides running free my tiredness vanished. 

All was at peace –

Only the sea, the wind, and we.

I slowed the engine to idle…

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Exploring The Caribbean Rum Smoothie

After our son and family absconded to the Dominican Republic on vacation leaving Bella, our grand dog, with us a bottle of Ron Bacelo rum appeared at our door.  

Mr. Bacelo’s rum made its appearance on a steamy hot summer day at the exact time in the afternoon when something cold and refreshing would be most yearned for. 

As welcome as it was unexpected, we found ourselves lacking in the proper mixing materials until in a moment of reckless inspiration a bag of frozen fruit and a blender were found.   Thus the Carribbean Rum Smoothie was born.

Caribbean Rum Smoothies

Cool, Quick & Easy

1-1lb bag of frozen fruit-strawberries, peaches, pineapple, & red grapes
10 oz-Rum-Ron Barcelo -37.5 % alc.
1/3 cup  pineapple  juice

Blend frozen fruit & pineapple juice till smooth. Add rum & blend till mixed & serve in insulated glasses.

Great with Any & All Hot Summer days!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Boat Renaming Ceremony

According to legend the Roman King of the Sea, Neptune, in partnership with the Greek Ruler of the Sea, Poseidon, maintain a data base of all vessels that have ever sailed the seas of the world.  

 Any updates to the Ledger of the Deep, such as renaming a vessel, must be made using proper protocols to prevent enforcement of stiff penalties.  Neptune and Poseidon, both of whom live in underwater palaces for apparent tax reasons, are said to have considerable influence over the weather and seas, not to mention Lady Luck.  For instance, the mere mention of the old boat name may invoke disaster for the hapless sailor without thier protection.

While none of this can be proven, any sailor knows it is better to be prepared than not.  Thus when the SV Miandros needed to change the name of her tender from ***REDACTED***  to Lil M the following ceremony took place.



Sunday, July 21, 2013

Searching for the Light - Anclote Key Florida

SV HideAway Anclote Key Light FL
We were anchored off the southeast corner of Anclote Key not far from the mouth of the Anclote River.  The crew had just returned from exploring as much of the back waters that could be navigated by row boat on a mission to rediscover an old secret trail to the Anclote Key light.

Rowing the Anclote Key Backwaters
 Docking our wood lap strake dink along side and climbing aboard HideAway takes coordination, timing and balance. The procedure includes gliding up to the boat and shipping the oars while the crew holds onto HideAway.  The next step is to secure a tight bow and stern line to HideAway’s stern and jib cleats to keep the dink against the boat and perhaps slow down a capsize. 

The Last Gasp Grasp

The grab, certainly frantic, left the Capt. hanging by one hand off HideAway’s back stay with one foot on board while the other hand and foot flailed away at a rapidly retreating dink. The Last Gasp Grasp prevented a picturesque if not life changing back flip into the drink and dink although not likely in that order. 

All events that end with undesirable consequence on HideAway are reviewed by the crew after the adrenaline and/or blood has been staunched.  A thorough investigation completed by said crew took place in the cock pit shortly after the incident with enough quiet aplomb to empty the entire anchorage of all floating craft, flying creatures and fish so fearful that some leapt at the chance to join the gettaway. 

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The Wonderful Days of Yore

Once upon a time this area featured a fine crescent beach and a trail that snaked through the wilderness to a sidewalk covered by a canopy of old growth jungle that eventually found the light. Built in 1887 the light was abandoned almost a hundred years later.  The components of the original light were long removed leaving a gapping hole in the floor protected by a traditional light tower metal roof. The metal tower was the color of old rust inside and out.  A broken down fence and an open doorway tempted the adventurous soul. The large island was unregulated.  You could wander the beaches for hours without company and camp wherever you pleased.  Natural law and common sense prevailed.

It was memories of our Magic Pearl, a Sea Pearl 21, which brought us back to this enchanting place of endless powder white beaches that squeak as you walk on it like snow on a cold winters day. 

In the latter years of the millennium just past, folks of stout hearts and brave souls dared to climb to the top of the broiling hot cylinder on a narrow spiral staircase held together with one hundred year old rusty bolts of questionable integrity while navigating missing steps and other hazards deemed best ignored.

Anclote Key Light circa 1986
At the top of the light a metal cat walk protected by a suspicious railing provided a view as if from bird’s eye of a tropical jungle and secret places with sandy beaches set in clear waters and framed by a brilliant blue sky.  It was the stuff of dreams.

The panorama has been known to cause rational thinking to sail away on the afternoon sea breeze compelling anyone who dared to climb that glorious rusting tower to shrug off all concern of danger and become completely captivated by the beauty of the moment. Oh the adventure!   

 For What is Life to Free Range Sailors if Not Risk?

The light has since been restored to operation in all its former glory and the entire area is under the control of the Florida State Parks system.   Philosophers and land developers can argue about change being a good idea; however with change often come regulations that prohibit freedom.  The light is off limits to the public and a permit, although free, is required to camp, but only on the northern shore and only if you bring your own boat and leave it anchored in open seas.  

After nearly two decades “our” beach has been completely overgrown by mangroves.  The trail that had never amounted to a real trail in the first place was not to be found in the dense undergrowth.  (A later viewing of a satellite image proved the HideAways were only a few feet from a serviceable route to the light.)

An elevated wooden walkway from the light services a not-for-public use pier.  You can anchor near the pier in unprotected waters, row ashore and follow a path to the northern end of the walkway.   The path begins on the south west corner of the key but the waters there are much too shallow for HideAway to anchor.  There is a string of sand extending south of the key that may have held HideAway at high tide but would have been questionable at any other level.  

Sailing HideAway  Anclote Key Fl

Faced with those choices the HideAways chose to make their way from their anchorage along the south eastern shore to the pier.  With the pier in view the shore line water became too deep to walk in, the undergrowth impassable and the mission abandoned.  Still it was a pleasant row and hike in complete solitude with plenty of wild life to observe above and below the warm crystal clear waters.  

Besides the shadows of morning had long cast off on their journey and we had to fetch Caladesi Island before the sea devoured the sun. 
Google “sailing hideaway st joseph sound” and watch the video to see how we fared.   

SV HideAway Leaving Anclote Key FL


Monday, June 3, 2013

Garmin GPSMAP640: A Review From a Pocket Cruiser

Think You Might Need A Chart Plotter?
Clearwater Harbor FL Spoil Island
 Late in the last millennia at the very beginning of Sailing HideAway, a spanking new Garmin 120 GPS joined the equipment list of the SV hideaway.  Strangely, the main screen featured a highway complete with lanes that pointed towards the next waypoint.  If there was no waypoint, another screen provided track, position, altitude, and time. All the basic information needed for cruise navigation or day sailing was at hand. Without question a good chart and tools to plot it with were required.

Over the years the durable 120 became difficult to wake up in the morning, usually taking its time to find satellites and it could not plot a route to save its processor.  After Sixteen years of adventures a dark circle formed in the exact center of the display and grew in area ultimately becoming a total eclipse.

16 Years of Service 
The capt will admit to a certain reluctance to search for a replacement for the venerable 120.  The unwelcome discovery that an affordable GPS with a reasonably large screen unencumbered by other even more expensive toys has become an endangered species.  Many of the fully integrated units cost more than the boat is worth while providing too much information to be processed on a small sailboat.  Some units had screens so large they would distract the crew from actually sailing the boat.  An affordable GPS suffered from a screen too small to be helpful during the more exciting moments of the sailing experience.   No doubt there are plenty of handheld units that would work fine on a mountain trail but are useless on a heeling sailboat with a nearsighted navigator.


Surely this year’s spring cruise to the distant Anclote Key could be made without electronic wonders.   Or so the capt believed until a sunny afternoon day sail became a sudden sea fog slog.  The HideAways had to admit navigating the shallows along Pass-A-Grill Channel at the tip of St Pete Beach in a dense fog without benefit of an electronic wonder may not end well.  The search began in earnest and since many of our escapades occur on the hard as well as water, the dual purpose Garmin GPS640 MAPS held particular interest.

It was difficult to justify the price until West Marine offered the unit at a couple of hundred dollars off the lowest price available at the time. 

Our new Garmin GPS640 Maps arrived in a large box of some heft.  This is significant because as we all know anything expensive must have these qualities in direct proportion to their cost to have real value.  The large hefty box included important documents, books, parts and accessories in impressive plastic bags that further justified the cost.  A word of caution is in order.  Offerings from some providers included remanufactured, refurbished or open frame units at a lower price. The fine print explained that while the unit would function properly some accessories may be missing.  Given all the parts, pieces and paraphernalia shipped in our box the risk was not worth taking and well worth the $40 difference.

First Impressions

The unit fits perfectly on a swing arm in HideAway’s companionway.  The nautical mount has a feature that scared the ptooohies out of us when first used.  One of us bumped the GPS pretty hard causing it to spin to almost vertical!   Turns out the mount has a clutch that allows for such impact. A nice amenity on a heeling sailboat.  

Garmin GPSMAP640
The mount has protected gold contacts and is of solid well thought out construction.  As reported by others, there is a significant glare issue with the screen.  We found tilting the unit slightly helps fend off the dreaded glare but some sort of shadow casting device would be helpful. The 640 comes with an impressive cover to guard from what I don’t know but it would be nice if it wouldn’t fall off if moved from horizontal.  We have to band it to the machine to transport.

View From the Helm

While I can see the screen from the helm the stats are difficult to discern.   Unless the sun is direct I could see our progress down the ICW and anticipate markers.  After all these years I can estimate speed, however those with better eyes may be able to recognize the speed data.   Note the designation print between mph and nm is too small to see on the screen at any distance.

The Touch Screen

The touch screen allows for a larger viewing area and is easy to use.  The panning function took some getting used to for the HideAways.   Be careful though, if you inadvertently touch the screen something on it will change.  In finding your way back to the right screen you may have to employ language some may feel inappropriate.  Interestingly it takes some effort to use the on/off switch.

As we sailed out of Pass-A-Grill channel entering crucial waypoints the 640 could not find marker G7A.  That might not mean much to you, but G7A is the closest marker with adequate water depth to afford the south bound intentions of the HideAways.  Full magnification was required to find the channel marker in a water way where 4 foot wakes are common.  How much fun can one sailor stand? After the waypoint is entered the mark will show at any magnification.

A Most Annoying Feature

Monday, May 20, 2013

What Makes a Good Cruising Sailboat?

HideAway Anchored Off Caladesi Island Dunedin, Florida 
Two sailboats lying at the end of "C" Dock in our sailing club marina in Gulfport Fl.  One, a fully found Catalina 30 of mid 80's vintage, the other a mostly lost Com-pac 23 hull #2, a very early version of the latest Com-pac 23 IV.  HideAway is often described as the same boat unburdened by any of the new boat's amenities.

Both boats were leaving the same day for a week long cruise.  The Catalina float plan pointed them south to Charlotte Harbor, Fl with the option of staying longer while the HideAways plan wandered the opposite direction to Anclote Key near Tarpon Springs for no more than a week.

Both captains had spent the previous months preparing their boats while spending more boat dollars than they wanted gathering supplies for the cruise.


Catalina 30 

The Catalina has standing head room, full galley, queen size berth, a dining room table, full electronics, a fuel sipping diesel, a real head with shower, roller furler, davits, generator not to mention a dodger with full canvas. The list goes on and on. 

Basically it's an apartment that floats and sometimes sails.

HideAway has standing head room when the hatches are open, a Coleman camping stove used in the cockpit, two very comfortable settee berths, a hatch board table across the cockpit seats, an electric and manual depth finder, a new Garmin GPSmap 640 (I'll have a full review of it soon) a gas guzzling Mr. E,  and a solar shower that never seems to heat up.  Our head consists of a five gallon portapottie set up for deck pump out only and a home built vanity. The V berth has long been converted to storage for our three head sails and other essential stuff. We tow the wooden dink.


Known costs to prepare the Catalina pushed $2,000 including a new fuel and water pump and a new bank of gel batteries on a very long list.  I replaced the lower end of the Evinrude and had the prop rebuilt for $50.  The new GPS was around $600 plus some rewiring of a frightening electrical system.

Where's That Lighthouse Again?


HideAway cruised 92.3 NM at an average of 3.3kn, mostly under power, with a top speed of 6.3 under full main and 150 genny. (That new GPS is pretty cool, but it seems to like 0.3 of anything). 

We called at Dunedin, well, at an offshore island, Three Rooker Bar, Caladesi Island, explored the back waters of Anclote Key and anchored near several unnamed islands spending five nights and six days aboard.  The depth of all of our anchorages was 3 feet or less. The depth of St Joseph sound varies between 3 - 5 feet or so off the ICW.

A word from our Sailing Kitty- She's hungry!

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The Catalina spent one night at Long Boat Key, a day sail across Tampa Bay.  The crew woke up the next morning with dead gel batteries, no fridge, no house power and a generator that would not start.  Unwilling to face a week without the luxuries of home, they fired up the engine and headed for port.

The Catalina, drawing 5 feet would have missed all of our anchorages and not been safe to sail out of the ICW.  HideAway on the other hand, albeit, when her crew was younger, made the journey to Charlotte Harbor, Boca Grande and Cayo Costa. 

Your choice.  We have made ours.   

I hear the Catalina will be up for sale soon. 

Dead gel batteries and all.

HideAway Anchored Off  Anclote Key, Florida


Monday, May 13, 2013

Sailboat Trailer Building - A Risky Business - Measurements & Green Boat Update

Lowering a 4,000 lb Sailboat is a Delicate Process

Lowering the Green Boat on Jack Stands
Five jack stands per side were employed to distribute the weight. A five man crew each slowly adjusted their stand one turn each to lower the boat on command and in unison.  The set screws on the bunk supports had been loosened to allow them to self-adjust as the boat was lowered. The idea seemed reasonable at the time since the boat sets on its keel and the bunks just hold the boat uprignt.  The keel was a scant 3 inches above its final resting place.    

The Bunk Support Tubes Jammed

Bunk Support Tube Held by Set Screw at Bottom
The only recourse was to raise the boat and persuade the tubes to release.  This was accomplished with the aggressive use of 5 lb hammers and 2 x 6 wooden boards used as levers against the hull and bunk.  At one point the trailer and boat were jumping around so much that, as an observer, the only sane course of action was retreat.   

Unlike the Compac 23, The Green boat has a cut away keel.  As the boat was lowered to the trailer the bow tended to drop forward since there was no support to catch it.   In order to make final adjustments on the bunks a crate, 2 x 6 board and a bottle jack were used as a temporary support .  One minor adjustment was all it took. A warning shout followed by a thunderous crash and the breaking of timbers were next.

The Green Boat Fell - Again

The boat came to rest at a 20+ degree heel to starboard. At least this time leaning away from HideAway.  There were no injuries but the 2 x 8 keel support was shattered and the keel came to rest, padded by remnants of the board against a metal cross support on the trailer. Damage to the keel and centerboard are unknown.  The trailer was eventually repaired and only black tire marks on the pavement leaving the parking lot were left as evidence of the day's drama.

So, Still Wanna Build a Sailboat Trailer?

I thought so...  

Here's The First Problem with Measurements
Every trailer is different. Every boat is different.  If the measurements are off even a bit your pride and joy could end up like the Green Boat. 

 In the photo on your left not only is the top of the bunk board tipped inward, it also does not touch the hull.   

How can this be?  Well it's one of the forward supports.  The middle support is lower by a couple of inches and lacks the wood pad but what is the actual measurement of either?  Take your pick!

At about where the tape measure is located is the amount of this board I want to see when loading the boat.  At our ramp the boat rests on the forward end of the board until it glides on the trailer.  

Is this correct?  I don't know but it works for us

Looking at the end of the bunk the boat seems too high. Or is the bunk too long?  I don't know but it seems to work for our boat on this trailer only.

The most important thing to note on both photos is how the metal support is attached to a wood pad then bolted to the bunk.  The Green Boat lacked this feature and now has a holy hull.  

The Best Feature of the Trailer

Front end of keel guide - Note the rust 
Notice how high the keel guides are over the 2 x 12. 

The keel does not have to be on the trailer very far before it catches the guards and centers the boat. 

The keel is about eight feet long but the support should be longer. 

Luck alone saved the day for HideAway since we have never been able to get the keel to the end of the bunk.

Stern end of keel guides Com-Pac 23

The trick is knowing how deep the trailer should go to catch the keel.  Too deep and the keel won't catch.  To shallow and you'll wish you had more gears on the trailer winch.

Other Concerns

 Old Trailers Rust Quick!

If you trailer your boat down the road further than HideAways off road journey of a few hundred feet you will probably want one of these. 
HideAways Bow Support Pad
The bow support pad reduces the rocking horse effect of bumpy roads.  If the Green Boat was so equipped it would not have fallen the second time. I keep the pad as low as possible for launching as it's no fun pushing the bow off of it nor cranking the boat over it.  

While the Com-Pac 23 is considered a shallow draft boat our boat and trailer combination requires at least three feet of water to launch.  I always use a tongue extender.  Always, even though it makes our total length of the rig at 40 feet. 

Would I do it Again?

I knew nothing of trailer building when I started this project and can   truly state that I now have enough experience and knowledge to leave it to the professionals should I need another trailer.  A new trailer adds good value to a 23 Com-pac because very few 23s have a trailer in the first place.

I don't believe it is cost effective in the long run to rebuild a trailer (see the rust photos above) and as the Green Boat experience shows us, trailer building is a risky business for the boat and your continued existence. 

(Any information used from Sailing HideAway is at your own risk)

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Building A Sail Boat Trailer

Loading this boat for the first time met with disaster
Someone recently asked me if rebuilding a junkyard trailer to suit HideAway was a good idea. I can tell you that on the surface we saved more half the cost of a new trailer. The trailer we chose was for a much larger boat and in retrospect is considerably over built for its current use.

Three years down the road we have replaced two of the four tires and the other two are not safe to take on the highway. Incidentally the cost of a proper trailer tire for this load is over $1.00  in boat dollars.  The lug nuts on one of the wheels are so badly rusted they will have to be cut off at some point. 

The brake shoes on both wheels have rusted to the point of extinction.  Have a look at my video "Rusted Boat Trailer Shoes".  I've changed a lot of drum brake shoes in my time but nothing prepared me for this!  Stainless steel disc brakes are the most likely answer.  Be prepared to spend at least $1.50 boat dollars per wheel.

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The bolts that hold the entire suspension have been replaced after I discovered some of them were rusted half though. See my blog post "The HideAways Lose Their Nuts".  

During that project I couldn't help but notice other future projects such as:  How the springs have rusted, not to mention the axle and trailer cross members. The bunk support tubes are new but in just three years several have a thick coating of rust.  The heavy fenders are now covered with rust bubbles like a bad rash.  

I should mention here that all trailer parts are hot dipped galvanized metal.  I thoroughly wash all trailer components after each outing.  

Has This Nice Morgan Cruiser Met Its End? 

The bunk support bar just behind the forward wheel has punched a hole in the hull and penetrated the interior of the boat.

After building our trailer the next step was determining how high to make the bunks.  On our trailer the keel rests on a 2 x 12 and the bunks function is to keep the boat from falling over.  

I took many and careful measurements of three other Compac 23s on trailers at our sailing club resulting in three different sets of bunk heights whether measured from the top rails of the trailers or from the ground.  

No Method Produced Accurate Results  

Each trailer was constructed just a bid differently and the heights above the ground varied from tire size and inflation to the variances of  the parking lot surface.   

Bunk Support - Don't Make One Like This 

The 2 x 4 used as the bunk support is directly mounted on top of a 2" pipe.
I eventually came up with a measurement that I was confident in using. Then I semi-tightened the pivot points on each bunk leg so they would conform to the hull as the boat loaded and made sure the the mid bunk would follow the curve of the hull. I fully tightened the bolts controlling the vertical movement of the bunks and kept the wrenches close at hand.

HideAways trailer has 2 x 6 bunks 

HideAway's bunks are made from 2 x 6 pt wood with a pad bolted to the metal swivel on the bunk leg.  The bunk cannot slide off the support leg.

Stopping several times to inspect the general fit of the bunks and guide on rails, we pulled HideAway slowly up the bumpy ramp.   Just when I thought all was fine someone hollered with obvious fear in his voice.  I raced to the starboard side and found that bunk a good six inches down from the hull while the port side was perfect.  

Only HideAway's fat keel kept her from falling! 


The 2 x 4 mounted directly on the bracket with only two small screws slipped off the post and broke through the hull up into the cabin. 

So is building or rebuilding, as was our case, really a good value?  The best I can say is that we have a stronger, longer trailer than standard and that it fulfilled its purpose at the time.  

However, I believe the life span and cost of maintenance of the older trailer is significantly lower in the first case and higher in the other.  All in all, if I had $3,500 to spend on a new trailer at the time I would have done just that.     

HideAways junkyard trailer rebuild
To see close up views of HideAway's trailer construction click on the link below.