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Gap At The Bow Support When Loading Hunter 23.5

JDE

.
Jun 6, 2019
8
Hunter 23.5 Lillian As many as possible
When I retrieve my Hunter 23.5 into the stock trailer I crank the bow up tight to the rubber “V” support but invariably in the process of pulling the trailer out she settles down and there is a troubling gap anywhere from 1/2 to 2 inches. I do not have a wet slip so I’m launching and retrieving often. I’ve read somewhere on this forum about locking the brakes to slide it forward but I’m looking for a different solution. I’ve tried exiting the water really slowly to allow time for the ballast to drain thereby limiting ballast weight above the waterline. This helped in combination with cranking the bow hook super tight. I know that this connection is important in stiffening the trailer during transport. I wondering if anyone can share their experiences and solutions. Here’s a few questions to consider:

1. Do you ever get a gap and if so how to you attend to it?
2. Has anyone adjusted the bunk boards to balance the boat differently? If so, what was the adjustment.

All suggestions welcome.
 
Last edited:
Feb 21, 2019
4
Hunter H-18 515 Cocoa, FL
I have the reverse problem with my H18. The bow eye is nominally just above the trailer bow support so with the trailer on a sloped ramp the angle between the floating boat and submerged trailer allows the bow eye to be winched in just a bit farther forward before trailer support contact' As the stern settles down on the way out the strap tightens further and drives the bow in tighter against the support. The steeper the ramp the more pronounced the effect. Its not a big deal and I usually let the winch off a click or two before hitting the road. Looking at some 23.5 on trailer picks it appears the bow eye sits below the support and the trailers I saw didn't appear to have a keel roller or padded support up by the bow? If so that explains the gap opening up as the boats sits down on the bunks on the way out. Installing a forward keel support would probably help most. Minimizing the distance between bow support and eye will also reduce the effect - maybe even consider moving support below the eye. Hope that helps.
 
Sep 30, 2016
244
Hunter 23.5 Oasis Patoka Lake, IN
I have the same issue most of the time when I trailer my 23.5, which is typically at the beginning and end of the season. I sometimes have a gap of 2-3" from the bow to the V bumper. There will be comments regarding the "Hunter Bump" where you pull the boat out, drain ballast, and get a little speed with your rig and jab the brakes to get the boat to slip forward. I tried that one time and was not able to get it to work. I was uncomfortable going any faster or braking any harder. I havnt tried it with the new bunk carpet I put on last year. Im not sure if its more or less grippy. I towed the boat 800 miles with a gap and everything was fine. I did have a cargo strap around the boat and trailer tho. I think the steeper the ramp the more pronounced the effect.
 

JDE

.
Jun 6, 2019
8
Hunter 23.5 Lillian As many as possible
Thanks for the insight. After looking at a bunch of online photos of trailered H23.5’s I have a few observations.

1. The winch strap comes off the bottom of the winch and aligns more horizontally to the bow eye. Mine is opposite and extends off the top in a steep angle towards the eye.

2. A couple of boats had two V bumpers and an added bow guide below. The fact that there are two boats like this makes me wonder if it was an upgraded factory solution and not a one off DIY. Did not appear to solve the gap entirely. See photos.

I think I’ll reverse the strap to come off the bottom of the winch and see if this has any effect. If not I might try adding a bow guide. I found one that might just work (last photo).
EBFB84C5-DB74-4809-8AA4-93D0F39157EB.jpeg
AC1D152F-B322-4FF8-AC25-73C1A6A485D4.jpeg
9235F941-FFDE-438D-9A2B-8F5DA1982D27.jpeg
 
Jun 8, 2004
7,767
-na -NA Anywhere USA
This There is much discussion on this subject in the archives. As a former dealer very much involved with this boat from inception, first never take the winch strap wrapping it around bow pulpit or cleats or you will invariably bend the bow beyond repair and also pull out the cleats. Remember you are trying to pull up 2000 pounds plus dry weight as well as extra gear on board not to mention 1000 pounds of water ballast in the tank.

The boat will only go up so far on the trailer bunk boards and then stop due the angle of the trailer on any ramp with the boat level In the water. When pulling out onto a level surface, suggest all water ballast out of tank, drop mast, secure mast and then do the bump. The bump is basically moving forward braking and each time winding the strap up when bow is in the chock which may take a few times. This applies to many boats. Go about 10-20 miles pulling over and checking winch strap as well as rear strap over cockpit. Suggesting to turn straps to prevent slapping against hull. Also check hubs and if hot, you may not have grease in the bearings or bearings are shot.

Some boats came to my shop for repair to the bow eye as some used excessive force and in cases rebuilt the bow which was an expensive repair. Also never use a strap over the foredeck to trailer. Also secure winch handle by tying so trailer which handle will never get loose as I have seen winch brake failure.

I use to see if the boat sat on the trailer without the centerboard being pinched between keel tray and boat. If so raise the bunk boards until it is clear. There are things that you can add to the bunk boards for a smoother surface for the hull to slide easier but strap it down to the trailer of course over the cockpit to trailer.

Finally do not forget the safety chain on trailer winch stand being attached
 
Jun 2, 2004
605
Hunter 23.5 Calgary, Canada
This happens to me as well.

I open the ballast valve before driving the boat onto the trailer. I winch it up tight and then go up the ramp far enough for the ballast to drain. The boat shifts though, leaving a gap of about 3 inches. Then I snug up the winch strap again, reducing the gap a lot. But don't be fooled. You're not moving the boat, you're bending the tongue/ladder up and back towards the bow to get the roller to touch. Then I close the ballast value and back the boat into the water to float it again. Then I snug up the winch strap and pull it up the ramp again. I sometimes repeat this more than once to finally get the boat all the way forward, but even then I probably still have some bend in the tongue.

If you don't believe the tongue is bending up, then simply loosen the trap on level ground and see the gap increase. Obviously the boat is not sliding backwards! If the bow is touching the roller and you loosen the strap and it's still touching, then it really is all the way forward.

The brake/bump doesn't seem to work for me, possibly because my boat has old bottom paint on it making it rough. ISomebody here suggested squirting liquid dish soap on the bunks before retrieving. I suppose this might help a clean hull to slide, and/or making it easier to push off the bunks next time you launch. I remember wondering if the lubrication would make it dangerous driving down the highway?

I had to retrieve my boat at the beginning of August. I left the 3" gap thinking that I'd be re-launching again in a few weeks, but it will stay on the trailer until next summer now. I would never trailer it far like this but it's less than 1/2 mile from the ramp to my driveway, on a level private road in a resort/trailer park. With the large gap and the trailer detached on my driveway, when I step on the swim ladder to climb aboard the jack stand lifts up and the back of the trailer hits the ground. And I only weight 150 lbs. Clearly you don't want to tow it like this! I put a block of wood under the back of the trailer so I can climb up. This was the first time in 18 years that I've left a large gap.

Another trick I do is to help center the boat on the trailer. I have those goal-post-like trailer guides on the trailer. When I first drive the boat onto the trailer, I put bungee cords around those posts and the stern rail seat bars, with the same number of wraps on each side to snug the posts and boat. When I pull up the ramp, it settles right in the middle every time. I worried that an inch or two off center was putting more weight on the wheel and bearing on one side of the trailer, and the single-axle trailer is badly inadequate already.
 
Jun 2, 2004
605
Hunter 23.5 Calgary, Canada
Oh, once I hit a speed bumb going a bit too fast in the resort and the (18-year-old & weathered) winch strap broke. After replacing it I also put a snug strap from the bow pad eye vertically down to the tongue to help take some strain off the winch strap.
 
Jun 8, 2004
7,767
-na -NA Anywhere USA
If traveling, the boat will have a tendency to settle onto the trailer in the center. Towing anytime short or long distances I always suggest strapping the back of the boat to the trailer. You never know what idiot is out there driving. If you take time on the ramp, pick a day and time when it is least used to avoid issues for example on a hot Saturday day where the ramp is used a lot.

I have found cleaning off the area where the hull makes contact with the bunk boards, it does help for the boat to slide easier
 
Jun 2, 2004
2,914
Hunter 23.5 Fort Walton Yacht Club, Florida
I replaced the carpet on the bunks with the plastic covers it makes it much easier to draw the boat up to the bow chock. the down side is it makes it much easier for the boat to slide off away from the bow chock. Not an issue if you realize it will do that and plan accordingly. The boat trailers much better when snugged all the way up so do whatever you have to do to get it up there.
 
Jan 19, 2010
7,351
Hunter 26 Lake Martin AL
The break thing you mentioned is colloquially called "the bump".

So if you are adverse to doing the bump, you could let the water drain at the ramp, then close your ballast tank valve and refloat the boat. It will now sit much higher in the water and you should be able to get the boat cranked up tighter on the winch. Then pull out slow and adjust as needed.
 

JDE

.
Jun 6, 2019
8
Hunter 23.5 Lillian As many as possible
Thanks all for your input. I’ll do some experimentation and report back with the results.
 

JDE

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Jun 6, 2019
8
Hunter 23.5 Lillian As many as possible
I did a re-float with an empty ballast and I was able to go from a 6 inch gap to a 2 inch gap. I also rewound the winch so the strap came off the bottom instead off the top of the winch.

Also, all of the boats in our yard are stored on trailers. After walking around and looking at more than a dozen larger boats my size I observed that not one of them was making contact with the winch bumper. This led me to believe that it may not be as important as I believed. When I recently transported the boat/trailer across town for winter storage, I placed two heavy duty winch straps: one across the cockpit and one across the bow. The strap at the bow served to stiffen the trailer to a satisfactory degree. I don’t think this is an issue I’ll be worrying about anymore. Thanks for your input.

BE37B5DA-238F-4B86-AA85-98F355E60224.jpeg
 
Jun 8, 2004
7,767
-na -NA Anywhere USA
@JDE
The worst item that you had was obviously removed which was the standup roller under the bow of the boat. that was good. However, I would suggest never putting a strap over the forward deck as when ratcheting down could damage the boat. As a dealer and who pushed construction of this boat, I always advised against that strap. I am not sure if you have a chain attachement to the bow eye in case the winch strap should ever break.
 
Jun 2, 2004
605
Hunter 23.5 Calgary, Canada
@JDE
However, I would suggest never putting a strap over the forward deck as when ratcheting down could damage the boat.
Dave, I put a strap vertically down from the bow eye to the trailer frame. Is that ok? I broke the winch strap once when I hit a speed bump in the parking lot a little too fast. The strap was pretty old at the time, maybe 18 years.
 
Jan 19, 2010
7,351
Hunter 26 Lake Martin AL
You need to do the "bump":cool:



 
Apr 16, 2017
747
Federation NCC-1701 Riverside
The gap is caused by the stern floating. As the boat rests on the trailer the bow rotates off the bow stop. Its part bad design, part technique. Its not just a Hunter defect as many boats have this issue.

Youll probably experience the bow eye smashing over the bow stop as well right?

Design:
The bow eye needs to be close to the waterline. Hunter ruins every boat with a bow eye pretty close to the rub rail. This means the bow eye is over the winch which is bad practice. The bow eye should be low so the winch is pulling the boat out of the water and up into the trailer. Ideally, the strap is going under the roller so that it tightens when the boat lifts up versus loosening.

Technique:
If the boat has a planing hull form (no permanat keel) it should be loaded on the trailer like a powerboat. Dont sink the trailer and sail onto trailer. Thats for keels only. You want the boat to be pulled up and out of the water. When boat is at the stop, it should not be floating at all. Watch a big power boat load up. magical. Do what they do and just barely wet the bunks, grab the bow eye, haul it up. Powerboats will powerload and push up the trailer. This is when rollers are better.

I kinda agree with dave about straps over the bow. It really depends on the location of the bunk supports. But its bad practice to have a bow eye over the bow stop and not lock it in. There are cracks on my deck that could be from this practice. Then again, my boat is a hunter and my winch is pulling the boat onto the trailer, usually bending the trailer up.
 
Apr 16, 2017
747
Federation NCC-1701 Riverside
This picture may help the case for a very low bow eye and pulling the boat up versus down.
IMG_20191022_195335.jpg
 
Jun 8, 2004
7,767
-na -NA Anywhere USA
@BobbyFunn is correct that is one thing but more so with water ballast. Also I have seen where the boat strapped down so tight, the forward section of the bunk boards will dig into the hull. Wrapping around for example bow rail,I have replaced many on various trailered boats. Just not a thing to do.

I suggest putting on new winch straps every 5-7 years. Sunlight deteriorates them. 18years is too long and suggest changing.
 
Oct 11, 2019
16
Macgregor 26D Trailer
On my 26D I've found that I can drain the water and refloat it quickly, moving it ahead the 2" I need. (Of course, without the extending tongue, either way the ass end of your truck is thoroughly in the water) the main Trouble is the original mac trailer is so flimsy that the boat sort of bounces up and down at the bow as the trailer flexes going down the road. The strap over the top and a roller at the bow is the only fix I've found for this. I dont get carried away tightening the strap but I suspect that the trailer would give before the boat! Lol. This makes the boat ride much nicer I've found even when, like now, I didn't take the time to get it to touch the brace at the winch. As long as the bow roller is touching I'm good.

Of course, the best fix will be when I get a new trailer built this winter...
20191023_080934.jpg
 
Apr 16, 2017
747
Federation NCC-1701 Riverside
@BobbyFunn is correct that is one thing but more so with water ballast. Also I have seen where the boat strapped down so tight, the forward section of the bunk boards will dig into the hull. Wrapping around for example bow rail,I have replaced many on various trailered boats. Just not a thing to do.

I suggest putting on new winch straps every 5-7 years. Sunlight deteriorates them. 18years is too long and suggest changing.
I had to fair this out on my 170. The single bunk pad under the bow pushed the hull in just shy of 1/8 inch for the size of the bunk. I then moved the bunk to just under the mast tabernacle so the boat hits a bunk pad and not the trailer for dryer loading and unloading. This creates more unsupported leveage to pull the bow and trailer tight, increasing risk for damage that Dave mentions (ever see titanic split in two?)