Saturday, November 13, 2010

Portable Boat Ramp

I just moved into my new shop location. The good news is that there is water a mere hundred yards from where I store my boats. The bad news is that it looks like the picture above. Big rocks to climb down with a boat. It's 16 feet from the top to the bottom. I thought of building something semi-permanent to make getting a boat in and out of the water easier but it's public property and therefore might have a limited lifetime. So I didn't want anything elaborate.
What I came up with was a ladder-like contraption that I could slide the boat up and down on. A friend had given me some redwood deck lumber that was going to be tossed. Luckily it was 16 feet long, just the right length for my portable ramp. And it is easily hoisted on top of the car.

Yesterday I did a test run of the ramp. The water was close, but I hauled things by car just so I'd have someplace to lock up my camera and other stuff while paddling. Plus it gave me a chance to test long distance portability of the rig.

Here's the ramp, deployed. The long pieces are spaced about 7 inches apart. That separation allows the boat to slide down the longitudinals without the keel dragging on the cross braces of the ramp. The two vertical pieces of two by four keep the ramp from sliding down into the water.

Here's the ramp in action. The slope is steep enough for the boat to slide down without any assistance. You can't see it in the photo, but I planed down the inside edges of the runners to make contact surfaces less sharp and less likely to injure the boat.

And there's the boat, successfully launched. I didn't have a photo assistant so I don't have any pictures of me climbing into the boat. That was actually the hardest part of the whole deal, climbing in and out of the boat while the boat is floating. It's much easier getting in and out of the boat on a beach. I was able to stabilize the boat with my paddle while climbing in and out of the boat but that's hard on the paddle with these sharp barnacle covered rocks. Should have brought my boat pole. Next time. In any case, I might need to add some sort of light weight, easily portable launching platform to the rig.
Overall, I have to say the ramp was a success. This particular boat I launched doesn't weigh much but I have some that are fairly heavy and a real pain to carry down those rocks, so much of a pain in fact that I wouldn't want to do it without the ramp. And it's a local solution engineered specifically for this spot. But heck, what isn't engineered for a specific purpose. Universal technology costs a whole lot more and doesn't work nearly as well.

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