View Full Version : trailer sailers

03-06-01, 19:29
I would like to move up to a trailer/sailer from dinghy sailing and what I would like to know is, does anyone have any suggestions of what class to start with? I will only be sailing on inland waters and have a family with 3 children so I don't need anything of high performance, I also have only a limited budget. Any ideas would be much appreciated ,thanks

03-06-01, 20:56
I used to have a trailer-sailor. It seemed a good idea - no mooring fees - sail anywhere you like - handy for laying up/fitting out etc.

Reality was that you need three days trailing for each day sailing. By the time I had trailed somewhere, found where to launch, rigged the boat, found somewhere to park the car and trailer (most difficult problem often), got ready to sail I had had quite enough for that day. Similarly coming home.

I would suggest that you consider a bigger older boat on a mooring if you possibly can. You will get more sailing and have less hassle.

If you like to be bored I can supply several horror stories of trailing, its far more dangerous than the sailing bit

04-06-01, 19:06
We had a series of trailer sailer - problem is we never trailed them anywhere other than home for the winter. The final one in the series was the biggest possible to tow legally - Parker 275. Lovely boat and surprisingly we did trail her - down to the Med (glorious), Noth Wales (cold but interesting) and the lake district (lots of friends and a great place for the kids if they hadn't left home by then!) Great times, but it's not a cheap option.

The second best was a great cheapie - Teliga 21 - good sailing performance once it had decent sails and relatively spacious accommodation. Great for lake sailing - also took this one to France, but again on lakes. Not sure about sea sailing in one, but know a man who regularly sailed on in the Irish Sea - but then his previous boat had been a Gem Micro. Another one from our past, but definitely not a family boat.

Select what you fancy, have a test sail and if you like it, buy it. If you buy wisely you're unlikely to lose money even if it does prove to have been a bad choice for you.

Good luck.

07-06-01, 21:13
Me I love the look of the e-boat, ther's a great looking one at Preston Marina (I think for under 5k). Incidentally I recently saw one launched in less than 30 minutes...

08-06-01, 11:42
PBO has been running a series of articles on the subject of trailer sailing. You could have a look also at www.trail-sail.org.uk.

Concerning the class, there are a few questions you need to answer for yourself, such as the following;

How often you intend to trail her ? If frequently, look for a boat that's easy to launch and get the mast rigged. If this is often, you will need to look wither for a rig with a short mast and gaff / gunter rig, or a system with a' tabernacled' mast step and pivot points for the shrouds in line with the tabernacle. Of course, you could always rig these yourself. PBO has back-issues about this.
If towing often the size of your car is important. Look for an all-up towing weight (including trailer etc.) of 80% of the kerb weight of the car. This is as per advice from the AA and Caravan Club. Going above this will make towing harder and more dangerous.

Are you going to stay on board overnight regularly? If so, you will need to sacrifice cockpit space for cabin space, and vice versa.

Budget... That old chestnut. Some of the older boats don't age badly at all, although if you're going to really restrict the budget you'll have to look carefully at the trailer etc. to ensure there aren't any hidden costs lurking that might surface on the A34 one dark night.

Outboard. For inland waterways only, this may not be so critical as going in coastal waters, unless you're going through canals, for example. However, the power output is not as critical as reliability. Look for a good name and make sure the owner starts it up for you.

Concerning recommendations, I can only go by my experience. We have had two different trailer sailers in the last few years, and I'll describe each in turn.

Originally we had a Hunter Medina (see www.huntermedina.com). Built in 1979, she was in very good condition and cost us 5200 with a trailer and outboard included, although you can get them from around 4k. She's a quick boat and very responsive to the helm , which makes her fun to sail and ideal for learning on, although it's necessary to reef early to prevent any 'untoward' heeling! She's a cruiser-racer, but easy to sail in 'cruiser' mode when the mood takes you. Accommodation is quite good, a decent 4 bunks, with a galley area. We even had a table inside. There's a chemical loo and kneeling / sitting headroom only.
She's heavyish at 750kg or so, which once the trailer is added makes for a little over 1 Tonne. This can restrict tow car choice in a way which more recent or smaller boats do not.
Launching is easy with a piggy back trailer, but getting the mast up is an art, unless you take the time to make a pivoting arrangement for the shrouds.

Our current boat is a Drascombe Coaster. She's a lot more predictable and safe to sail, but fun at the same time as with three sails there's always something for the children to play with! I'd happily sail her across the North sea, which I would hesitate to do with the Medina as with the former boat one can't leave the tiller alone for a moment.
Accommodation is small, not really suitable for more than two for coastal sailing for a week, although the cockpit is very large and a lot of owners rig a cockpit tent to give extra sleeping and living space, which would give a fun 'camping' element to a weekend's sailing.
She's not cheap at 7k to 12k depending on age, although the older ones don't degrade in any but cosmetic ways.
She's a lot lighter than the Medina at 550kg or so, and with the trailer perhaps 750kg in total. Therefore towing with anything from a Ford Escort upwards is fine. Launching is easy, depending upon trailer type, and because of the gunter rig (with no boom) it's very easy to get the mast up. Canal cruising with the mast down is quite possible, and as the mast doesn't overhang the stern it isn't likely to get damaged!
The outboard is sited in a well, which has the advantage of easy access and it's less likely to come out of the water when you go forward.
Draft is only a foot or so with the keel up (easy to lift) and the rudder lifted (steer with an oar). Therefore exploring creeks under oar or sail is a lovely pastime.
For details see the Drascombe website http://www.drascombe-association.freeserve.co.uk/

I'm going on rather, but I hope this gives you some ideas!


10-06-01, 00:44
Re your search for the 'best' trailer sailer. I suggest you access the web site of the Trail Sail Association on www.trail-sail.org.uk. and use their Contacts Page. Send you question to them and you will certainly get an answer within a day.

I have been trail sailing for over 13 years, and can recomend it as the very BEST way of cruising. You can choose the best cruising grounds, and pass by the boring bits at 50 MPH. Then, on arrival you can potter on at 3 or 4 knots.

As to having difficulty with towing, and finding that it takes many days, as suggested by a previous posting, this is not our experience. Yorkshire to floating in a South Brittany marina takes 1.75 days, including waiting for the ferry ride. This year we have seen the Norfolk Broads, Menai Straits, and West Coast of Scotland (F8 included), and none of the trips took longer than twelve hours from our hill top home to having the 1.25 ton boat ready to sail.

Colin H.

11-06-01, 12:57
We have three boys now aged 4, 7 and 9 and have been trailer sailing since the 7 year old was 3.

We've spent many happy hours and days sailing in the Solent and Chichester harbour.

Trailing , launching and recovering is no trouble once you've worked out all the little tricks to
minimise effort - you need to only do the ABSOLUTE MINIMUM of rigging and stowing necessary
to get the boat between its 'road' state and 'floating' state (eg leave sheets on and even fenders etc.
( work out simple ways to ensure they don't get damaged). You also need to work out the most
EFFICIENT order for doing things (ie only going from one end of the boat to the other the minimum
number of times and only climbing aboard on the trailer ONCE.)

This way you can reduces rigging and launcing time to about 30 minutes and not end up needing three days for one day's sailing as suggested elsewhere.

Our first boat was a Skipper 17. In good condition with good outboard and almost new trailer cost 1800 and was
great for day sailing but no good for sleeping.

Second boat was a Juno 560. In not OK condition cost 1500. Five of us sleep aboard for 1 onr two nights
regularly. Nice boat but will not steer itself for more than 10 seconds.

Good Luck

16-06-01, 21:39
Entirely agree with the last 2 posts. I reverted to trailer-sailing last year after many years with a larger boat out of Chichester. Most of the time she stay put on a mooring, ready for use, but come holiday time or extended weekends out she comes and off we go. No longer that long beat down from Chi out past the Needles and St Albans before you 'get somewhere new' - in any case having done it every year more or less for the last 10, even the variety and - er, questionable 'thrill' of rounding Portland had palled a bit.

So last year, second day out of the summer hols saw us exploring Falmouth estuary with a full 12 days ahead of us in new cruising grouds. Lovely! This year we will be fulfilling a long held ambition to explore Arthur Ransome Country up the East Coast and to find out what his 'Secret Water' really is like!

Our boat? a 19'6 Tucker Matilda, which manages to sleep 4 in two cabins and stil have a nearly seperate loo. At least the foreberth occupants dont have to get up if someone needs the facilities at 3.00am - a common and largely insoluble problem with many smaller trailer-sailers - unless the kids/guests can be persuaded to use a bucket in the cockpit or wherever! (Not nice in the rain!!!).

Matilda is quite fast , and sailed hard can give a very exciting ride. I am told its possible to get her up on the plane, but haven't acheived that one yet. Sailed a bit more soberly she has coped well with everything I have asked of her. Weighing in at about 725kg on her trailer, she tows behind a 2 litre diesel, and should be manageable by amost 1600cc+ petrol engine vehicles - and the choice of towing vehicles is a major debate in itself. See any caravan magazine, which will discuss it interminably!

With only 12" draft, a pair of chest waders (50 from the local angling shop) means I can easily float her on and off her trailer - which is often the most difficult part of the operation.

Go for something with simple rigging - thats the only problem with 'Tilly' - she has fore and aft stays and 4 inners, which while being reassuring at sea, means theres an awful lot to watch while the mast goes up!

Raising and lowering the mast itself is dead easy on the trailer. Using an A frame, and the trailer winch, it is a simple single handed operation - and I've only bent one rigging screw so far!

But be aware that because of legal limits on size and weight on the road, only a few trailer sailers are up to genuine 'offshore' passages. However as you are planning inland use thats not a problem until you do decide to take her down to the sea, that is!