What a happy week this was: Right at my birthday the yard managed to deliver my brand new boat and made me the brightest smiling man of Germany – although I turned 42, which is a shockingly high figure I wouldn´t normally celebrate that much. Anyway, since then pretty much nothing happened because a sudden Blitz-Winter surprised Northern Europe with an magnitude of snow. So, yesterday I visited the boat in our yard, which a bit broke my heart, seeing it buried under half a ton of snow.
Nevertheless, warmer temperatures are in sight and in such work on GEKKO will quickly be resumed. For the first part I´d like to take a chance and write an article about the very trailer for this boat which is a very important part of the whole Seascape-idea: Equipped with a swing keel, the First 27 SE is capable of entering very shallow anchorages and sneak into bays where normal keel boats cannot enter. In this, the trailer for such a boat is always a custom made solution. And here is mine.
Boat-Trailer Setup: Things to check
First of all we went for a trusted German brand called Harbeck. This is a Bavarian family business active since nearly 90 years specialized in all sorts of trailers. Harbeck has been producing customized trailers for all Seascapes since the start of the brand some 15 years ago, so these guys definitely know how to set up a safe, light and reliable trailer. The one for the First 27 SE is called BT 2000 AL, meaning that this trailer is only available in aluminium, mainly due to the weight. A (possibly cheaper) steel-made trailer would be far heavier than 400 kilograms thus overshooting the max overall weight of 2 tons.
The BT 2000 AL by Harbeck is painted in bright white, which is a nice touch and perfectly matches the winter-like feel. As you can see, this trailer has a double axle which distributes the boat´s weight (of some 1.600 kilograms) onto four wheels, rather than two. This trailer has a 100 km/h certification (otherwise 80 km/h, at least in Germany). The breaks are waterproof of course. You also notice that the boat is resting on GRP-cradles. This is a special feature of the First 27 SE / Seascape 27. Ordinary fixed keel yachts are transported standing on their keels – 80 or more per cent of the boat´s weight are resting on the cast iron keels. As my First 27 SE has an hydraulic swing keel, this is not possible so the very hull takes on the whole weight.
Make sure to acquire the custom made GRP-cradles done by the yard which come with the boat. The trailer´s frame should be welded in a way to take on the cradles and have an even distribution of mass. When putting the boat on the cradles – the trailer – make sure to follow exactly the measurements given by the yard of how to position the boat as you want to make sure that the mass rests safely and the trailer is perfectly balanced when underway. Even when 100 kilometres per hours does not sound very fast, it´s a hell of a problem when your boat turns our to be loaden the wrong way, unbalancing and endangering the whole transport.
Safer boat transport
Another peculiartity is the swing keel. No matter if you have a Seascape/First or any other swing keeled boat: make sure that the keel is locked and safe when the boat is taken out of the water. A keel not secured and falling down suddenly can damage not only the boat but severely injure people. Vice versa, when the boat is loaded onto the trailer, make sure you release the lock and slowly let come down the keel.
High quality trailers do come with a special keel-resting plate – as seen on the pictures – where the keel´s weight can rest in. Just put some dampening foam underneath and the keel´s antifouling wont be harmed. In case of my First 27 SE the trailer not just has this keel resting plate but also adjustable supports to hold the keel in place and lock it, securing it against sideway movements which could also do damage to the hydraulic piston and keel mechanism. As easy as it may seem, it makes sense to fully read the instructions for boat loading in the owner´s manual as well as in the trailer´s manual. Maybe a fellow sailor (with the same boat and trailer combo) may be counselled for advice beforehand.
In case of my GEKKO, our technical team mounted the GRP-cradles, craned the boat and secured it just perfectly. Additional, straps do secure the boat against longitudinal movements (for example in case of emergency braking or all-too enthusiastic acceleration). Also, smaller straps hold the extendable light-rack of the trailer in place where loos vibrations may cause damage to the trailer. All in all, for a trailer this size and quality 6.000 to 7000 Euros should be the budget to aim for – and I can assure you that going for a bargain trailerwise is not a good idea, certainly not in comparison to a boat worth 100 K.
So, that´s a quick start for the trailer. Right now the boat is awaiting snow melting weather to be towed into our halls to receive her antifouling protective layers, her custom made solar array and of course the Torqeedo electric engine including a state-of-the-art Lithium-Ion-battery. For now I can only wait, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
In my next article concluding this small trailer-series I will show how to fix the carbon-mast of the First 27 SE on the boat, readying the whole team for transport and report from the first big tour with GEKKO and trailer from our company´s HQ to the Baltic Sea where I live where GEKKO has her berth.
You might as well check the following articles:
All articles connected with my new First 27 SE/Seascape 27
Small boat comforts – my idea of micro cruising