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StriperZ

Nightmare Trailer Mishap with happy ending

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The sun rose like normal, the temperatures rose like normal, the birds sang like normal, and all seemed great for a small boat ride out to Billingsgate Island. We wanted to show some house guests how it disappears with the tide. Having used many ramps, including Wellfleet, many times, I felt that today would be no different. We all take so much for granted.

 

It is 12:30pm. I was doing my normal drop in procedure and realized that I had left the plug out. I hit the brakes to stop the car and boat, only the boat did not stop, I watched in horror as the time structure of the world slowed down and the boat receded from view. You never can know what it feels like to watch your boat fade from view in the rear view mirror until it happens. The mixture of shock and alarm numbs your body and I felt like I was walking through peanut butter. I put the truck in Park and ran towards the ramp, waiting to see a hurt person, or smashed boat, as the boat disappeared on an angle. How could I have not had, the ball pin in, the safety chains on, or the brake or the....., your mind is working a fury while you watch your boat zing out in to the harbor at a fast clip.

 

Luckily on the ramp there was not a soul, it was a low but rising tide and no one foolish enough, but me, to drop their boat.

 

The clamor was not unnoticed. A mother with her children sitting on the bench were watching the activities. She was explaining to her children that this was how you launch a boat in to the water. Little did she know that what she and her children were about to witness was one in a billion. Afterward, one child innocently comments to his mother, "I don't think it was supposed to be like this"

 

The harbor master and I took off running down the dock, he was a few steps ahead, but I was preparing for a flying leap with a small swim. However, the boat, as if guided by a hidden protector, performed a large u-turn and backed itself up to the dock, slowing as it approached for a grab that would have felt routine, and was tied easily to the dock.

 

The major karmic reward was that no one was injured and this was was now one big cluster-(cheese). My lottery win was today! No ticket needed.

 

My breathing evened out a bit, but now I had to deal with the trailer, sunk and mired in the mud of the low tide off any ramp concrete and gravel. The hitch was right at the water line, submerged in about a foot of water, but the tide comes in fast in Wellfleet so the need to hurry was in my thoughts. I backed the truck down, and was able to line up the ball with the hitch. I had no idea how I was going to lift it.

 

Yet another karmic reward, because the mud was soft and the pressure from catapulting the boat, the business end of the trailer lifted almost effortlessly on to the ball, and I hauled the trailer up the ramp. Sitting up top, the gravity of it all sunk in. The 'crisis' moments were over, but what happened?

 

After a moment of quiet reflection, the investigation began. It turns out I had hooked the safeties, and the brake hook, and the ball clamp and the ball clamp pin. Between the harbor master and I, our investigation showed this:

 

As I was backing on the flat part, I realized I needed to put in the plug. So I hit the brakes, but the wheels on the trailer had already just crested on the steep ramp. The pressures on the hitch switch violently switched from down to up. With no movement from the truck combined with the age of the trailer, this allowed the ball clamp pin to shear and the ball clamp to lose integrity and let go. With the ball clamp failed and the boat rolling back, both safety harnesses snapped without so much as a whimper, the emergency brake pull snapped after enacting, but the boat plowed down the ramp gaining speed the whole way with the brakes engaged.

 

As the boat, traveling quickly, plowed into the water, it left the concrete and gravel of the ramp and was pushed deep into the soft mud. This halted the trailer's movement, but did little to stop the boat. The winch line snapped and the 1/2″ S-hook on the chain that connects to the boat was bent in to an L-hook.

 

The investigation complete, a perfect storm of failures on every safety system of the trailer, my attention worked back around to the boat, had it sustained any damage? As I approached the boat, I realized that the plug had never been put in. After a light drag back to the shallow end of the dock, a quick dip in the water for me to put in the plug, the boat sinking was averted.

 

All was well, the whole incident took about 1/2 hour, we went for a cruise, the trailer cost $76 to get the new, better parts that fixed the broken pieces. The ball hitch was adjusted to be really tight and still function. The 3/8″ aircraft cable safeties (2 of them) that snapped were replaced with chain, the winch cable was replaced, the bent s-hook was replaced and I got the boat out of the water by 5:00 pm as promised. The harbor master was kind enough to let me tie up on the public dock while I repaired the trailer.

 

Here are the pics:

BrokenSafeties.jpg

NewWinchBentHook.jpg

BrokenWinchHook.jpg

 

The danger of the situation never left my mind, and will never, during this or future recounting of this incident! I hope it never happens to anyone.

 

We all check our boats over and over. Check everything on your trailer regularly as well.

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I'm glad everything worked out for you. I have a tiny boat and ramp activities cause me a ton of stress, I can only imagine what you went through.

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on another note the winch cable does not like salt so much, i use the straps i think mine has a 15k rating or something like that. nice horor story cwm31.gif

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Sheeesh...when it goes bad it really goes bad! I've always said that if you want good cheap entertainment, go to the Wellfleet ramp on a busy weekend and just sit and watch.

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I had a similar incident last year on the same ramp my first trip out. At the time I was stressed out and should not have even made the trip. Anyway, the outcome could have been far worse than it was. Every time I hitch the trailer to my vehicle, I still get nervous, however I go through a final inspection myself to make sure everything is properly connected and secured. Once I have the vehicle lined up to the trailer, I don't want any help from anyone as I have developed a routine and execute the routine in the same manner each time including as a final step that all my trailer lights work.

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View PostI had a similar incident last year on the same ramp my first trip out. At the time I was stressed out and should not have even made the trip. Anyway, the outcome could have been far worse than it was. Every time I hitch the trailer to my vehicle, I still get nervous, however I go through a final inspection myself to make sure everything is properly connected and secured. Once I have the vehicle lined up to the trailer, I don't want any help from anyone as I have developed a routine and execute the routine in the same manner each time including as a final step that all my trailer lights work.

 

Amen!

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View PostSheeesh...when it goes bad it really goes bad! I've always said that if you want good cheap entertainment, go to the Wellfleet ramp on a busy weekend and just sit and watch.

 

One of the best lunchtime spots on the Outer Capebiggrin.gifcwm31.gifheadscratch.gifkooky.gifmad.giffrown.gifcwm27.gif All these faces have appeared there.It was better when the old ramp was there.I've done a couple of ZOO MOVES there over the years toobiggrin.gif .

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