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Launching and retrieving over sand

In summary...

  1. Unless someone in the party has solid experience in beach launches they should be avoided in anything other than very calm conditions.
  2. In moderate to rough conditions extreme care needs to be taken when the boat is in the surf zone, as a 1 tonne boat can easily crush a person.
  3. If you resort to dragging the boat with a rope, ensure the rope is in good condition (do not use the anchor rope) and that the driver knows to limit their speed to walking pace.
  4. Everything else is common sense, just be careful.

Mystery Bay


Beach launches can be easy if done correctly, or difficult and even dangerous if not.


When retrieving a boat from the surf you need to keep the bow into the waves until the last moment possible, and keep the boat in deep enough water that a big set of waves coming through isn't likely to throw the boat around like a heavy log against the sand and possibly catch a person between it and the shore. Then, having set up a car and rope, wait for a lull in the waves and rapidly move the boat into position with the bow directly to the shore, deftly clip a loop onto the boat's painter carabiner and move the car smoothly forwards to take up the rope slack and tow the boat onto the beach without stopping. It is important that one person is clearly sighted and able to pass instructions to the driver. Other people around the boat should keep it lined up while the rope is being connected and not let it go sideways to the waves, even if a lot of waves break over the stern. If the boat gets away and turns side on in less than chest deep water get clear - don't get between the boat and the shore as you could get badly injured.

When retrieving a boat from the surf onto the sand, it is important to keep the boat moving forward so that it aquaplanes on a cushion of water pushed in front of it and doesn't 'stick' in the sand - pulling a boat stuck in sand other than very slowly can distort the frame and 'pop' some of the welded seams. The club keeps lengths of old anchor rope specifically for dragging boats and trailers on beaches - take these with you and don't use the boat's anchor rope unless there is no other option.

And there will always be days where even the most proficient at beach launching and retrieving should leave the boat on the trailer and go for a 'pub dive' instead.

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