Trailer to Jackstand Transfer, or How to Lift Sailboat off Trailer with Gantry

Oystercatcher sitting on jackstands, moments after she had been lifted from her trailer
Ask just about anyone how he would transfer a sailboat, such as the Ericson 25, with a displacement of 5400 pounds, from a sailboat trailer to a set of jackstands, and he would probably tell you that you need to take the boat to a boatyard and pay to have the boat placed in slings and lifted off of the trailer with a travel-lift, a machine designed specifically for this and other related purposes, such as hauling boats out of the water. There was a time when I would have said the same thing. After all, I had paid to have my boat, Oystercatcher, hauled out and placed on a trailer shortly after I had purchased her in North Carolina in October 2009.
Oystercatcher in the slings of a travel lift, shortly after being hauled out of the water
Eventually, I discovered that there was an alternative to paying a travel-lift operator, at least when the moving of a boat on and off of a trailer (when she is not in the water) is concerned. What occasioned this discovery was the discussion I had with a buddy of mine regarding my need to install my new centerboard, and my need, at the same time, to bottom-paint the boat. This buddy of mine owns a small, land-locked boatyard in Charleston, South Carolina that specializes in trailerable boats. In my discussion with him, he said that in lieu of using a travel-lift, I could simply pull the boat up, off of the trailer, with his gantry and block, using the trailer eye (bow eye) as a lifting point. I had some doubts about whether this would work, and whether it would be safe, but he assured me that he had lifted many a boat off of a trailer (many of them heavier than the Ericson 25) without any problems.
When the appropriate day arrived, I trailered my boat to the yard. My buddy took it from there, using his tractor to back her into the right position.
Although it was the end of the workday on a Friday, it was still hectic around that yard, and he had to maneuver around various obstacles as he made his way back to the gantry.

The first thing he did after he parked the boat underneath the gantry was to lower the tongue of the trailer all the way to the ground. He did this in order to raise the back end of the trailer and thus the stern of the boat as high as possible.
Then he started grabbing jackstands and getting them ready to put in place around the aft end of the boat.

He (and another buddy of mine and I) then situated the first pair of jackstands in the area you see pictured.
Next, he prepared the block for the trailer eye.
You'll notice that the trailer eye has a piece of blue masking tape beneath it. The reason? I had just installed the eye one day earlier, and I had used this tape to prevent the gelcoat from chipping when I drilled through the hull. For more on this small project see my article, "Trailer Eye (Bow Eye) Installation."

He then wrapped the bow in bunk carpet to protect it from the chain.
Satisfied with his positioning of the chains, he handed the chains over to my other buddy so he could walk around to the stern of the boat to monitor the jackstands.
The gantry block, with all of its mechanical advantage, made the lifting of the bow of the boat an easy task for my buddy. He did it with one hand. The boat didn't make any strange creaking sounds. She just went right up . . . and my buddy was absolutely right . . . that trailer eye had no problem bearing the weight. I detected no deflection of the steel, before, during, or after the process.
Below, in this view of the stern, you can see that we have lowered the bars that support the aft end of the bunks. Two of us pushed down on the bunks while the another one of us loosened and then retightened the bolts.
With the bunks lowered and the bow pulled up just a little bit higher, my buddy jumped on the tractor and slowly began to inch the tractor forward.
Here's another shot from a wider angle. The bottom of the hull is only about an inch above the dunnage that sat upon the keel skid. For more on this dunnage, why it was there, and how I replaced it during the middle of the centerboard-installation and bottom-painting process, see my article, "Trailer, Keel Skid Modification."
Now, as you can see below, my buddy has pulled the trailer as far out as possible. It was time to set up another pair of jackstands so that we could remove these initial ones.
Here we see the new set of jackstands. We strapped them together for added safety.
At this point my buddy was able pull the trailer completely free of the boat.
The weight of the boat, as we see in the picture below, is now being supported solely by the trailer eye and the three jackstands.
Seeing is believing.
Of course we didn't want to keep the boat in this position very long, so we soon added the next pair of jackstands so that the bow would be supported.
Then we added another pair in the center.

Despite the numerous jackstands, my buddy left the chains on the trailer eye. I had no objections to this, especially since I would be the one crawling around underneath the boat all weekend.
The last thing I did on this evening was tent the boat with a heavy-duty tarp. The deck hardware was still missing, and I did not want to risk water intrusion. I also wanted the tarp to protect me from the hot South Carolina sun. This was a smart decision. It was both rainy and sunny all weekend - typical Lowcountry weather.
During the centerboard-installation and bottom-painting process, I took the trailer to a nearby gas station to put some air in the tires. They really needed it. For more on these other two related projects to which I just referred, see my articles, "Centerboard Installation," and "Hull, Bottom Painting."
When Monday morning arrived and the boat was painted and ready to go, we did everything in reverse. We removed the first two sets of jackstands, and then my buddy backed the trailer underneath the boat, all the way up to the jackstands at the stern of the boat.

There was very little clearance between the new, carpeted, trailer skid (that I had installed one day earlier) and the bottom of the boat.
Before we removed the jackstands at the stern, we installed these new ones underneath the trailer. You see the spot on the hull where the other jackstands had stood.
My buddy then slowly backed the trailer up.
Here you see that he's backed the trailer as far as possible without knocking over the stands. The only thing left to do now was to lower the bow with the chains and reset the bunks.
Oystercatcher sat down nicely on the trailer, and with that she off. All I needed to do now was to hook her up to my own tow vehicle and tow her home.
This ends this article on how I, with a little help from my friends, transferred my Ericson 25 from the trailer to the jackstands, and back, for the purpose of installing a new centerboard and giving her two new coats of bottom paint.

No comments:

Post a Comment