Trailering Tips for the J/105

Trailering Tips for the J/105
Well Packaged "Paint"

by Bob Taylor
December 1998


Okay, so you've decided you're going to bring your baby to that distant port to see how you and your team match up against the other competition. This article will break the road-trip process into two areas of preparation. The first area will deal with prepping the boat and mast for trailering, the second section will deal with proper loading and securing of the boat to a Triad trailer. If your circumstances allow that money is not an issue, obviously, have your favorite yard manager take care of all the details and hire a commercial hauler to get the boat to its destination. However, if you're inclined to do most of the prep yourself and beg, borrow, or steal a Triad trailer for your use, hopefully this article will help you in the process.

Whether or not your boat is hauled, when I prep for a road trip, the first items to be secured away are the dodger, boom vang, and boom. I secure the end of the boom with the main halyard and then remove the vang, being sure to tape the pins and bolts to the vang itself so that they don't get lost in the shuffle. I next pull the mainsheet through the mainsheet blocks, leave the blocks on the boom and detach the boom at the gooseneck first. I leave the bolt and pins for the boom in the gooseneck, taped in place. After gently placing the front end down, I go back and ease the main halyard to gently drop the rest of the boom to deck level. Next, detach the main halyard and bring it forward to where it exits the mast, attach it to itself and pull it tight back at the stopper. Carefully stow your boom below depending on your layout, making sure to wrap the mast sections that might rub against a bulkhead or other area, with carpet strips or bubblewrap. Once you've secured the boom and vang below, get the dodger down below and secure it in place again making sure any areas that might rub against the bulkheads or boom are separated by carpet strips or suitable material. The mainsheet system can now be disconnected from the traveler car and stowed securely below, remember to gather your jib cars at this point also. When I have these items cleared from the deck, I move on to securing the spinnaker, jib, and main halyards to the mast blocks at the foot of the mast. I simply fasten each halyard to itself where it exits the mast and then pull the halyard tight down through the block at the mast foot and knot it as it exits the block on its way back to the stoppers. Once knotted, you can pull the remaining halyard length from the cockpit through the stoppers and coil them at the mast prior to unstepping the mast. I'm assuming other running sheets and lines such as jib and spinnaker sheets have been coiled and stowed as well as your spinnaker tack line, and cunningham line and block set-up. I next check to make sure I have a reference mark on my furling line, knowing that I unfurled my jib to drop it, with a reference mark either in front of or behind a furling line fairlead, I pull the furling line towards the drum and coil it as close as possible. With the reference mark noted, if the drum turns accidentally a few times while in transport or somewhere along the process, I can check the mark upon set up to avoid any problems with the jib not furling . My next stop is at the turnbuckles. In order to duplicate your existing shroud settings upon re-stepping and tuning the mast, it is imperative to get the measurement at each turnbuckle of the distance between the ends of the shrouds within each turnbuckle. I use a little gauge so that I can make the measurement in mm's. So you should end up with six measurements, one for each turnbuckle distance. Once I've recorded these numbers I'll tape them somewhere in the nav table for future reference. Having measured precisely, I now back off each turnbuckle three or four complete turns to ease the tension on the mast. Do this backing off, first the uppers port, then starboard, intermediates port, then starboard and finally lowers, port then starboard. If the uppers refuse to budge, put sufficient backstay tension on until the upper shroud turnbuckles can be turned. Once they free up, go back and ease the backstay adjuster all the way out and make sure you can still turn them with it eased. Once you've loosened the shroud turnbuckles, leave them slack, but not disconnected. Now go back to the hydraulic backstay and ease it all the way out to slacken the backstay. Disconnect the backstay from the backstay adjuster, again put the bolt and pin back in the adjuster end and tape them in place. Now remove the lower adjuster bolt and pin, tape them to the adjuster unit and secure the hydraulic backstay unit down below. Wrap it up in old carpet to be extra sure that the adjusting knob does not get damaged while in transit, it's not always a convenient repair if it gets damaged. Now that the backstay is free, secure it forward to the mast, you can doublecheck it once the mast has been un-stepped. Take a peek up at the mast to see if you have to ease one shroud or the other to keep the mast straight while loosening things up. Up to the bow next, you should have plenty of slack in the headstay now, so remove the bolt and pin to separate the drum and headstay from the bow. Put the bolt and pin back into the forestay attachment and tape them in place. Secure the forestay to a bow pulpit or stanchion and go belowdecks and disconnect your masthead wiring and instrument display wiring that may run through or near the mast blocks as you're ready to unstep the mast.

The following photos show the J/105 Wet Paint belonging to Don Priestley. His baby has been prepped and ready for the long haul to Key West. Pay close attention to the strap orientation and placement as they run from the trailer padeyes, up around the boat. Also look at the generous use of carpet sections in any of the areas that may be subject to chafe. Don in his preparations from past road trips has devised several useful devices to make the mast stowage simple and secure. Observe the area of the mast through coachroof photo. He has devised a custom fit plug for the partners made out of pressure treated lumber that supports a U-shaped block to not only make the opening water tight, but also secure the mast as it passes over this spot. Now look at the three photos that show the stern pulpit area. Don and his crew have fashioned a U-bolt secured piece of triple thickness plywood, with a U-shaped mast support in the middle. This "cradle" is fastened by pairs of U-bolts directly onto the stern pulpits. By shaping in the "cradle" area for the mast here, as well as at the partners with the previously mentioned block, the mast is not prone to rotating or rolling during transportation. Now Don's 105 is a tiller driven boat, so his stern cradle works at this height. For wheel boats, remove the wheel at the hub, secure it below, and you'll have to fashion at different type of cradle. This other type of stern cradle has to be attached but self supporting from the stern pulpit. Have this stern cradle built with vertical end pieces approximately 20 inches tall and a horizontal piece 83 inches wide. This can be lashed and secured inside the existing stern pulpits. Fashion a similar U shaped mast recess in the middle and it will carry the mast high enough to clear the binnacle or you may prefer to half the mast off to one side so as not to worry about any contact. Accordingly the support further forward at the partners has to be built a little higher also. I prefer to have the mast centered bow to stern so that the spreaders stay within the lifelines during transport. Again notice in the photo showing the securing strap running across the deck in front of the forepeak hatch, the use of carpet to prevent chafe at this location. In areas where the shrouds cross the stern cradle or any other area, they are wrapped with tape and carpet to prevent chafe. Looking at the photo showing the mast butt projecting forward of its support, again Don and his crew have fashioned a neat little "w" shaped metal rod piece that is used to secure the shroud bases to. By securing the longest shrouds to this piece, and then the shorter ones to each other, this allows the mast to be transported with the spreaders still attached in place. This saves time and effort when re-stepping the mast. Remember when securing the shrouds, backstay, headstay, and furling drum, that all these pieces should be secured with tape, carpet, etc. in all areas where chafe and vibration may be a problem.

In past trailering experiences, the main concern with the boat on the trailer itself, is that during the duration of the trip, the boat may have a tendency to settle slightly aft. You can see from the photos of the straps, that the second strap from the front padeye, does extend aft behind the stanchion base and then across the boat. This has been done to stop just this type of movement. I have seen another boat with the aft most strap placed behind the stern pulpit stanchion bases for a similar effect. Either way seems to negate any aft movement of the boat on the trailer.

Another concern while trailering your boat is the problem of road grime accumulating on the hull,keel and rudder. Preventative measures can include spraying the entire bottom with liquid soap and letting it dry, or using a product named On and Off. Both methods attempt to put a removable layer between the hull and the grime making clean up at the next yard a snap. I also like to wrap the leading edge of the keel and rudder with a durable material such as carpet sections or heavy duty plastic. Obviously keeping these areas from chipping is a priority. I've also seen adequate width sections of PVC halved and held in place with bungee chords, to protect these leading edges. When you've arrived at your destination most road tar can be easily removed with acetone, soap and water will clean the regular grime off. Re-stepping the mast is accomplished with a friendly crane operator and an extra pair of hands.

Once you've seated the mast back on the step securely, attach your shrouds loosely, put your mast blocks back in, and secure the mast boot. I reattach the headfoil next and use the spinnaker halyard attached at the bow if I need to get a little more slack to get the pin through. You can use the main halyard for extra purchase if the backstay needs some slack when attaching it to the hydraulic adjuster. Re-tuning the rig should be a snap as the previously recorded measurements make the duplication easy. Once you’re completely re-rigged and geared up, go for a sail and recheck your mast tune. Bring on the local competition, you're ready. Once you've done a trip and gotten to know your 105 better, it's not such a big undertaking. Lots of old carpet and plenty of duct tape, a little preparation goes a long way.

Feel free to contact Don Priestley or myself and we'll try to answer any concerns you may have. Your local yard manager will probably also have words of wisdom that can be of great help, as well as Mike Orro at Triad trailers.

Addendum (12/23/98): The four ratchet tie-down straps are available from Triad Trailers 860-354-1145 or from The Miller Equipment Co., The Big Red Catalogue 1-800-262-2377. Here's what you need:

  • 4 - 28 ft. 4" polyester webbing straps
  • 4 - M-15 Ratchet Assemblies
  • 4 - M-20 Wirehooks

On Wet Paint, the vertical mast rest was extended 23-5/16" up from its sleeve, and the horizontal bow rest had 6" remaining forward of its sleeve. (see first photo below).

Click on thumbnails below for large photos:

001 Bow and mast support at bow. 002 Mast positioned securely on hull.
003 Hull strap positioning. 004 Forward hatch, spreaders, and strap chafe protection.
005 Midgirth strapping and chafe protection. 006 Mast support at the stern.
007 Chock at the mast partner. 008 Another view of mast support at the stern.
009 Wrapping the mast butt. 010 Another view of the strapping arrangement.