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F15 Trailer and Launching Tips
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F15 Trailer and Launching Tips

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from Graham Lamond

1. This is a simple one and there are many variations, but it is vital to secure the rudder when launching in order to prevent damage to the blade and keep the boat steering straight back along the jetty when in the water. Here I've used Rooster Easy splice line to make a loop and then run the line through a cleat on the aft deck. The eye on the cleat serves a second purpose to support the elastic for the helm's toe straps. The tag acts as a useful reminder! [See Main Image above]

2. As I get older, heaving the Fifteen around ashore gets a bit harder, especially after a long race. It's also quite tiring when you're in the queue on the slip waiting to launch, especially if the ramp is long or steep and there are a lot of boats. After a while, even the crew gets tired of bracing the boat with their back against the transom. The reverse is true when hauling out while wiating to hitch or unhitch the tractor or winch. Simple answer is a pair of caravan chocks. I found these black plastic ones on Ebay for a few quid and they're well worth it. The curved and flat surfaces are both ridged to give a good grip, especially on steep slopes, while the handles allow you to attach a lanyard so you don't lose them. On my trailer I can also hang them off the bolt handles for the mast support cross bar so they're ready for use or removal in an instant. When trailing I take the lanyard off the trailer and sling them in the boat. Being plastic, they won't rot and are easy to clean any mud or grit off. They are also very lightweight. This link will get you what I bought for less than a tenner including postage. 2x Quality Wheel Chocks For Securing Fits Jeep Van Caravan Boat Trailer from eBay

3. One of the biggest delays sailing the Fifteen is in recovering the fleet after a race. Have you ever stood and watched, holding grimly onto your trailer, while the crew of the boat in the water splash around, trying to get the position just right and then spend ages tying the boat on with great lashings and knots? The quick answer to getting the boat in the right place every time and out of the water with minimum delay is to have a fixed line and snap hook secured on the mast support of the trailer. It is important the line is level with, or slightly below, the bow to stop any tendency for the bow to lift as the boat comes up the ramp, especially if it's steep. The securing point on the boat depends on your boat layout. Modern boats have the towing eye just in front of or aft of the spinnaker chute. In the example I've shown on FF1155 'Squall', the snap shackle is secured onto a rigging link on the jib tack fitting, whilst passing the line through the mooring fitting. Modern boats often have a loop of dyneema at this point which the hook can be passed through. The load on the line isn't too great, especially once the keel is on the trailer pad but make sure the snap hook is a good one, it's cheaper than damaging the boat should a cheap hook break. In this case I've used the Wichard 50mm snap hook, available for around £10. Obviously the line will go tight as the boat comes out of the water, but a quick tug by helm and crew can move the boat the 10mm or so forward on the trailer so the hook can be released if required, or it can stay there until the next launch.

4. Protecting the gunwales from chafing on the trailer side arms has spawned a raft of solutions, usually involving plastic tube, or foam padding, carpet and lashings of duct tape. Some trailers, such as Hayling, have side pads which bear on the hull itself, so this may not be so much of a problem. 

I have used the following solutions using plastic tube only. On the trailer for FF3428 I have used two diameters with the smaller diameter slightly longer the the larger outer, but both cut to length so that they rest on the mudguard supports and finish just below the cross beam.

The first photo shows them stowed as for towing, whilst the second shows the inner one extended and the cross beam bolt passed through a hole drilled in the tube. You can see that the top of the extended tube sits about 3 feet/1metre above the deck to show where the trailer is when in the water on a steep ramp. The large diameter of the outer tube allows it to act as a crude roller as the boat comes onto the trailer. There is no foam, carpet or tape to rot away or get chewed up and the system is maintenance free. The plastic doesn't harm the gunwales either. There is only one word of caution, which is to watch that the boat is central on the trailer when hauling out so the gunwales don't hook up on the outer tube, but you'd be doing that anyway to check the keel is central too.

The trailer for FF617 is made by Sovereign and the solution here is simpler as the trailer has side frames to protect the gunwales. Nevertheless, to guide the boat onto the trailer and protect the gunwales from chewing up on the exposed metal of the top of the side arms,  I just fit plastic tube onto the top of the side arms with a friction fit once the mast support bar is taken off. I've used these tubes for nearly 20 years now and never had a problem or had to replace them. I just stow them in the boat when towing.

5. The final idea deals with chafing of the covers whilst towing. As I have no Fifteen fleet near me, I end up doing a lot of towing and no matter what I tried, I was always having to get the under and over covers patched at the end of the season as the side arms always seemed to wear away the material no matter whether the boat was a tight or slack fit between the side arms (On the Sovereign trailer you can adjust the width of the cross bar on a slide and lock it off). My solution was to get some plastic roof flashing and cut two short lengths about 10"/250mm long. On the inside I glued some carpet underlay. I cut slots into the side to pass a webbing strap through and also drilled holes to pass a shock cord through. The pads fit over the gunwales and the webbing is passed around the boat and secured with adjustable clips. It is important that the webbing is tight so the pads don't move. The shock cord is passed around the trailer uprights to stop the pads moving forward or aft (I found this out after the first trip as the trailer flex is such it tends to push the pads forward) The shock cord is secured with a clip but the elastic allows the trailer arm to move relative to the gunwale pad. With the pads tight, the friction takes place between the pad and the side arm and the covers are protected. 

You can get 4 x 1.7m straps on Ebay for £8.99 including delivery as per the link:

I hope these ideas are of some use. Further images in Gallery.

Graham Lamond

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