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A word of caution


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So one thing that I've preached for some time now is that you should always keep your bow strap hooked up when you go to launch your boat, & we follow that advice. Today we found out first-hand that sometimes even that isn't enough.

We've used silicone spray this year on the bunks, mainly to help with the longevity of the carpet in addition to helping to keep down the wear & tear on the hull when powering up during loading. It makes them very slippery, for those of you that have never used it, I can't even begin to explain how slick they are. Anyway, we did our normal setup routine up in the parking lot, getting everything loaded, plugs installed & ready to go. Of course the bow strap is still hooked up, I even checked it as we were driving down to the ramp. So we pull down to the ramp & as we're turning around, I feel the boat moving a little. I wasn't too concerned since it does that a bit on the slippery bunks. But slider pulled up to straighten out & as soon as he stopped I heard the winch & quickly realized that we were sliding off of the trailer. Shocking.gif Folks, just sitting here retelling this story gets my adrenaline going - I can't even begin to tell you how freaked & flat out alarmed I was in that very moment. Anyway, I immediately start yelling "GO GO GO!!!" to slider, which he did. We made it to the water, but not quite in time. I didn't want to believe that we hit because she was floating, but I heard & felt it, & so did slider.

So we put the boat back on the trailer & pull it out to take a look. No apparent damage except for one little spot on the very rear corner of the rudder (not surprising), but sometimes it's hard to see other more serious damage. So we put it back in & I drove it out of the no-wake zone, but stayed close just in case. The steering was definitely wrong, binding on each end, but useable. Other than that it drove fine, no vibrations or anything that shouldn't be there. So I went back to the dock & I thought that we should put it on the trailer to do a more thorough inspection, but slider said that he could just use the goggles to take a good hard look at it. Turns out that the rudder shaft is bent, but no fiberglass or gel damage except for one little nick in the gel where the front of the rudder hit when the boat went in. I called the dealer after we were done at the lake & talked with him about it & he's pretty sure that a new rudder is the fix, so I guess that's what we'll be getting. Anyone know what that costs (I'm almost afraid to ask)? Crazy.gif

Anyway, this was a serious blow to our pride, but it's worth telling because we didn't do anything different with our routine. Somehow the latch that locks the winch failed & it does no good to be hooked to a winch that isn't locked in. We talked about it at length & slider is very sure that it's his fault, but I'm not so sure. Sometimes mechanical stuff just fails. And this wasn't an overly steep ramp - we've certainly used steeper. So my point to all of this is that if it can happen to us, it can happen to almost anyone. Be careful out there, don't be in too big of a hurry to check & re-check everything, & use the items that are there to save you in situations like this. If we'd just had the safety cable hooked up, this would have never happened. So I hope that all of you can take a lesson from what happened today. Humble pie doesn't taste very good. :(

All in all in the grand scheme of things, it could have been so much worse. There's no damage that we could find to the boat itself, the rudder appears to have taken it all. If the hit had been any harder, I think things would have been different on that count. And if slider hadn't have reacted the way he did.....I don't like to think about that. :unsure:

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Unfortunately, I know your pain - first hand. Several years ago our new RLX was on a siliconed trailer and the same thing happened as we were pulling onto the main road. Saw something odd in the rear view mirror and by the time we stopped, the boat was sitting on pavement on the rudder. The bow was about 60% down the trailer. The back tires of the Grand Cherokee were almost off the ground, and I was in total panic. We used the winch to pull the trailer back under the boat and drove to the parking lot. After we were able to breath again, we got out to find not a scratch on the boat, rudder, or trailer. Put it back in the water and it was 100% fine. The boat is still on the lake and the new owners have never had a problem with it. Don't ever let anyone tell you that Malibu doesn't make a solid boat!

Oh yea, be careful with silicone, liquid rollers, etc. They work almost too well...

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Sorry to hear that Tracie,

I replaced the rudder a while back when the boat hit something while surfing. WSA charged me $388.00 for the rudder assy. and I installed it. I kept the old rudder and built a jig and straightened the shaft on a press for a spare. It is now back in the boat because of last summers incident. :blush:

It works like new but the new replacement rudder that got bent is beyond repair.

It is very easy to r&r the rudder assy. The shaft housing comes with the new rudder, but if the original is not damaged, you can use it. If it is damaged to the point that you would need to swap it out, it will be because the flange part is no longer true with the shaft tube. It is somewhat difficult to tell if you aren't familiar with what to look for. Not that difficult to replace anyway, you just silicone it in and tighten it down.

If you have access to a machine shop, I can send pics of the jig I made to straighten the rudder shaft. All you need is access to a press.

Good luck with it!

Mark

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I got part way through that paragraph and then scrolled to the bottom expecting to see pics of your boat sitting on the pavement...glad it didn't!!! IIRC the rudder assembly kit costs 370-390 dollars.

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Tracie, That's terible... I'm glad to you guys are ok and the bu only suffered minor damage. You'll have up and running by next weekend.

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Tracie and Joe - so glad you guys are OK.

Things can go wrong fast and glad Joe's initial thought to put you in the water all worked out for the best.

Keep us posted on the repair.

--See mrothwell... it's not just me that stuff happens too. :)

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Wow. Very Scarry. I think there are alot of us here that silicon the bunks and just take it for granted that the boat will stay on the trailer when backing down the ramp, and slide on with ease when taking out. I will definitely be more careful from here on out. In particular I will be advise all of my friends who back my boat down during launching.

Glad that it didn't end up worse.

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Tracie,

Glad to hear that it is nothing more than a bent rubber shaft. :unsure:

On my Boatmate trailer, I have been less than confident in the mechanism to latch/reverse/re-latch the locking on the reel. Hence the reason I got a 14" piece of galvanized chain and fixed it to the trailer, so I leave BOTH on the boat until the rear of the boat is IN the water. Then and only then, I release it.

Might be something to think about adding to your setup? I STRONGLY recommend it, FWIW! Certainly would have been a back up to what happened to you. At least your boat didn't end up on the deck...that would SUCK!!!!!!

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Sorry to hear about this, sounds like you guys handled it much better than I would have. I would have seriously had a heart attack, especially since I usually have someone else that doesn't own a boat backing me down the ramp. Are you sure that the winch just wasn't in nuetral, if it did fail maybe you will be getting a rudder installed for free. Anyways I was thinking about applying the liquid rollers or similar but it just doesn't sound worth it to me. I'll just keep relying on my excellent trailering skills.

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Glad you and the kids are OK. Level heads prevail at times like that.

FYI...we only trailer a couple of times a year and the trailer sits outside the rest of the time empty. The second summer, the winch strap broke while loading the boat. The strap didn't tear or anything like that, the stitching that held the hook into the loop came apart. Luckily we don't use the silicon or L.R. or it might have done the same thing. The strap is now tied into a loop for the hook. I'm thinking about replacing the strap this year, just in case.

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Its is comforting that you shared your misfortune with us, sorry to hear it happened.

I have always felt its better to tell the whole world what happened, before than after the fact.

We launch our boat the same way but we dont use any lube, Im still scared it might fall off.

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Thank you everyone for the kind words. I think that we're both coming down from the huge adrenaline rush that we both had, but like I said in the grand scheme of things this could have been so much worse. Really, a pretty cheap lesson I guess if the rudder is the only damage. I just want to impress on everyone how easily something like this can happen, whether it's through human error or a mechanical breakdown.

Sunapee,

I told slider that & he just grimaced. I've continually told him all afternoon that it's not that bad & could have been much, much worse, but it will take a few days before it doesn't sting so bad. He totally blames himself.

Mark,

Good info, thanks! I may need a more detailed explanation of the replacement, we'll see. Slider said that he'll probably just have the dealer do it just to make sure it's done right, & to pay a little penance as he puts it. But if it's really that easy, we may go ahead & do it.

edwin,

I honestly wasn't sure that I would post this, I'm pretty embarrassed by it. But I do think that we handled it as well as we could have & reacted as well as anyone could be expected to, at least there's that. It's one thing to know what to do in a given situation, but it's quite another to actually do it given the opportunity. But I'm not patting myself on the back over this, believe me.

chadwick,

I hope you never find out. It was such a flood of feelings & emotions, the biggest ones being helplessness & "come on come on we've got to get to the water!" Crazy.gif Thankfully slider heard me yelling.

WaveMakin,

Yes, we have a safety cable but have gotten in the (bad) habit of disconnecting it prior to launching, relying on just the winch strap. That's not going to happen anymore. It's there as a backup & for a reason.

06vlx,

I'm not sure. Slider is sure that he just forgot to check it, but it's hard to say.

One good thing that came out of the day is that the ballast system worked well, just like I'd hoped. Biggrin.gif

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Glad it all worked out reasonably well for you. Thanks for shareing.

I also preach leaving the strap attached till the boat is over water. Last week I could have gotten bit. I loosten the strap a few notches as part of the pre-launch chores so when the stern starts to float it doesn't bind on the bow too much. The little flapper on my strap hook is buggerd up a little and as the boat got into the water the strap hook just fell out of the bow eye all by itself. I was already over water and the safety chain was still caught so no big deal, but just goes to show, everyone should have a safety chain or cable and use it from water to water.

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I have steeflex and glide strips on my duck boat and trailer for launching dry and shallow. I am not sure why you would want to make your 60K boat slide on/ off easier, carpet and bunks are cheap. Glad everything is ok. I guess it's like transom straps, personal preference Innocent.gif

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I have steeflex and glide strips on my duck boat and trailer for launching dry and shallow. I am not sure why you would want to make your 60K boat slide on/ off easier, carpet and bunks are cheap. Glad everything is ok. I guess it's like transom straps, personal preference Innocent.gif

Well, this will most likely fuel the debate. :lol: Seriously though, it does make loading the boat so much easier. You can have the trailer shallower & it helps get the boat centered. But after this experience I'm not sure if the potential downside is worth it. The other thing that I've noticed is that the boat has a tendency to shift on the trailer & it plays havoc with the transom straps, making one side much tighter than it was or should be. But like you said, personal preference. I just know what my preference is now.

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Are you guys gonna replace your bunks or wash the silicone off now?

Not replace, but yeah, we'll probably get it washed off at the rentalake in a few weeks. If you think about it, it's a tough thing. If you wash it off, you need to use soap & if you don't get that rinsed completely (high likelihood), then you've got one more substance on there that is slippery. So I don't know. Maybe at the rentalake I can soak the bunks really good & most of it will rinse away. Dontknow.gif

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WaveMakin,

Yes, we have a safety cable but have gotten in the (bad) habit of disconnecting it prior to launching, relying on just the winch strap. That's not going to happen anymore. It's there as a backup & for a reason.

I am in the same bad habit... Will not do that anymore.

What a bummer Tracie... thank goodness no major damage and no one hurt. But thank you for posting... your bad experience is everyones lesson.

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This will make me think. I just resprayed the trailer as the boat had been 'sticking' and I noticed that the carpet on one of the bunks is getting beat up. I don't usually use the safety cable when I am backing up the boat. That may change. For now the boat is in the water, but I will probably be getting it out in a month or so to get the Willamette scum off.

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WaveMakin,

Yes, we have a safety cable but have gotten in the (bad) habit of disconnecting it prior to launching, relying on just the winch strap. That's not going to happen anymore. It's there as a backup & for a reason.

I am in the same bad habit... Will not do that anymore.

What a bummer Tracie... thank goodness no major damage and no one hurt. But thank you for posting... your bad experience is everyones lesson.

This will make me think. I just resprayed the trailer as the boat had been 'sticking' and I noticed that the carpet on one of the bunks is getting beat up. I don't usually use the safety cable when I am backing up the boat. That may change. For now the boat is in the water, but I will probably be getting it out in a month or so to get the Willamette scum off.

Exactly why I posted this. One thing that I've learned (& continue to learn from lessons like these) is that it's the thing that you never think about or think could never happen that bites you.

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Could someone explain or show a picture of what their safety cable/ chain is ?

I snapped the winch strap while loading up last weekend due to a bad trailer repair on the winch area (getting fixed next week), but I still want to get something else on the front besides the strap. I had been using a spare transom strap but I just don't quite trust it either.

The main ramp I use is REALLY steep so I need something good there.

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