Launching Your Y-Flyer
There are two ways of launching your Y-Flyer, using a hoist or ramp launching. Many clubs we sail at provide hoists for launching (Carlyle Sailing Association, Lake Matoon Sailing Club, Indianapolis Sailing Club, Bloomington Yacht Club, and probably a few I missed). There are some clubs that only have ramp launching (Hueston Sailing Association, Atlanta Yacht Club, Grand Lake Maumelle Sailing Club, and others). If you travel with your Y you will undoubtedly encounter both situations. I will attempt to cover the requirements and precautions needed for both forms of launching.
This section applies to both hoist and ramp launching. It assumes you have the standing rigging set up before starting this phase.
1) Empty the boat of all items you do not intend to have in the boat once you are under sail.
2) Make sure all required safety items are on-board the boat and stored in their proper places.
3) Make sure your water bottle is full, sailing gloves are in the boat, etc.
Most Y sailors roll their sails for storage in the sailbags. The sails do not need to be unrolled to attach them to the boat before launching. The jib can be attached to the chain plate at the bow with the shackle, the downhaul shackle can be attached to the tack of the jib, and the jib sheets can be attached to the clew with the jib rolled just as it was removed from the sailbag. It is handy to have a sail tie or bungee cord to hold the jib in place so it stays in place and does not unroll off of the deck. The main can be fed into the sail track on the boom without unrolling also. Attach the outhaul shackle to the grommet in the clew and the tack into the shackle above the gooseneck. Again, a sail tie or bungee cord can be used to keep the main rolled neatly against the boom.
At this point it is a good idea to make sure everything is in order before you put the boat in the water. These things are easier to fix on land than in the water. Some things to look for are:
Stays—good working order; look for broken wires in the cables, usually near a swedge or where they enter the mast.
Rudder—in the boat (if it is a kick-up rudder, it may be attached before launching but swing the rudder all the way up on its pivot so it will not be in the water when launched)
Spreaders—look for bends or stays not captured at the ends of the spreaders.
Sheets—routed properly, not near the end of their useful life.
Trailer—tires inflated, tie downs removed, etc.
Hull—no holes, inspection ports in place so they do not take on water, water drained from the hull and cockpit, close the bailers, make sure the centerboard is cleated in the up position.
When draining the hull, most Turner Y-Flyers have a drain plug in the transom. To drain the hull, you must remove the plug, insure the bow is tied to the trailer*, block the wheels, place a lifejacket or cushion of some sort where you expect the transom to touch the ground to protect it, place your weight on the transom to cause the bow to rise slowly and gently. If there is a large amount of water inside the hull, it could shift quickly to the rear and the transom could come down hard. Don’t let your feet or fingers get in the way. It might also be a good idea to do this where the water that drains from your hull will not run into your neighbors gear and give it a good soaking. Be sure to replace the drain plug and gently allow the bow to come down.
*NOTE: A funny thing happened to me once because I did not tie the painter from the bow to the trailer while draining the hull. I had recently cleaned and polished the bottom. When I lowered the stern to drain the water from the hull, the trailer rolled forward and out from under the boat and gently laid the boat on the parking lot. I had to gather about 6 or 7 people to help me lift the boat back onto the trailer.
You should be ready to launch now. When moving your boat on the trailer to the launching area, pay attention to overhead obstacles such as trees, buildings, and especially power lines. Also, make sure your painter (bow line) is attached to both the chain plate and the trailer.
Be sure to follow courtesy protocols established at each club for the order of who gets to use the launch facility in what order. There is generally a line you will have to get into to be able to launch. If you are being courteous to others, they will most likely go out of their way to help you if you need it when your turn comes. A speedy launch is the most courteous thing you can do.
Pick the launching method you will be using and proceed.
To launch from a hoist, you need a bridle. Bridles available from Turner Marine are ready to use. There are other sources including making your own. The best bridles are made from the same kind of stainless steel cable as is used in the stays for your Y-Flyer. There are three attachment points, the longest cable of the bridle attaches to the ring in the cockpit floor at the rear of the cockpit, the other two attach to the side stay tangs. This forms a three point lifting system with all three cables ending at a 3” diameter ring just above your boom. (See Side Stay Adjusters in the Rigging Ideas for photos of this.) Most of the weight is handled by the two side lifting points, the rear cable controls the fore to aft balance of the boat once it is lifted off of the trailer. Pay attention to the length of the rear cable. You want it to lift the stern enough that the mast and spreaders are kept away from the hoist.
Attaching the bridle:
Most bridles only have an S Hook on the end of each cable. These are simply hooked onto the attachment points. Some bridles use a Fireman’s Hook instead of an S Hook. These have a spring loaded opening for attach/detach purposes but will not come unhooked. Be sure the bridle goes over the boom and the cables are not twisted. Hooks should be inserted into the holes of the side stay tangs from the inside to the outside. Since the rear attachment point is centered in the cockpit, to be sure extra pressure is not exerted against a boom crutch or the boom, the boom crutch is set off center slightly and reversible. One way the boom is centered, the other way the boom is held off center. Be sure the boom crutch is set for holding the boom off center.
Placement of the boat under the hoist:
Deciding on which side of the hoist to use is sometimes needed. Some hoists do not allow the use of both sides, therefore no decision. Others make a difference. The wind direction should be used to make this decision. Pick the side of the hoist that will allow your boat to be placed in the water with the bow pointing into the direction of the wind. This will give you better control of the boat while it is on the hoist and once you are paddling away from the hoist.Some clubs have drawn a circular line around the hoist area. This line indicates where the hook on the hoist will be when moved to that area. You should line the center of the boat up with that line. If there is not line to use, swing the hoist into position and place the Bridle ring under the hook. The idea is to have the hoist pick the boat straight up off of the trailer. If you do not center the boat correctly, when the weight of the boat transfers to the hoist, the boat may swing. If you trailer has side bars, the boat may swing into these bars. You will also not be able to easily set the boat back down on the trailer if a problem develops. Hook the hoist to your bridle.
Hoisting the boat:
It usually takes two people to smoothly move the boat from the trailer to the water. One operates the hoist. The other controls the boat. In windy conditions it may take a third person to control the boat.The person controlling the boat is in-charge. Use short commands such as UP, DOWN, STOP. Unhook the painter from the trailer and make sure you have enough slack to hold onto and control the boat as it swings out over the water. Have the hoist operator take up all the slack in the bridle. Do not lift the boat as yet. Check each connection point to insure no cables are twisted and the hooks are all in their proper position. Make sure the water where the boat is to be lowered into is clear of people and boats. Once you are sure everything is ready, stand at the bow and insure the bow does not bang into the trailer when lifted. Have the operator hoist the boat clear of the trailer. Watch the spreaders on the boat to insure they do not get tangled in the Hoist. Walk the bow towards the water maintaining control of the speed it moves. Once the boat is moved over the water, the painter is the only control line you have to keep the boat from bumping into things.Have the hoist operator lower the boat to the water. Watch the spreaders to insure they do not get tangled in the hoist. DO NOT GET UNDER THE BOAT WHILE IT IS ON THE HOIST!!! Bridles have broken in the past, they will break in the future. Boats can be replaced, people cannot.The hoist needs to be lowered so there is slack in the chain to allow it to be unhooked. One person will need to hold the painter while the other person gets into the boat to unhook the hoist. To be sure the next person in line gets his turn speedily, be ready to cast off from the hoist area and move the boat toward the dock area. To do this, lower the centerboard about 6 – 8 inches. Pick up the paddle and walk to the bow. Take the painter from the person holding it and cast off. You can control the direction of the boat by the direction you paddle at the bow. The centerboard keeps the boat controllable.The person left at the hoist should immediately move the empty trailer back to its storage spot to make room for the next person.
Ramp launching usually means the trailer will be attached to your car or truck. Make sure the hitch is tight on the ball and the safety chains are attached to the car. Make sure the painter is attached to both the bow of the boat and the trailer. When towing the boat with the mast up, you need to be especially watchful to avoid trees, power lines, and other obstacles in your path.
Backing a trailer is like parallel parking when you are 16 and just learning to drive. Some people take to this with no trouble whatsoever. Others simply don’t get it no matter how hard they try. A busy launch area is not the best place to learn how to back a trailer. Practice at home or someplace where there will be no one waiting their turn for you to get your boat into the water.
Here’s a trick if you’re having trouble learning to back the trailer: Put your hand on the BOTTOM of the steering wheel and then move your hand in the direction you want the BACK end of the trailer to go. A good place to practice is in a deserted parking lot. With a little practice, you’ll soon learn how much to turn the wheel and how soon to start straightening out.
Be sure to move anything in your vehicle that might obstruct your view before you start moving your vehicle — coolers, hanging clothes, extra sails lying across the seats, whatever.
Approaching the launch ramp:
All launch ramps are different. Follow the others who are launching their boats and notice the protocol. Wait in an area where you are not in anyone’s way until it is your turn. Then line you vehicle and trailer up to back it onto the ramp. Stop just before your trailer enters the water.
Launching the boat:
Unhook the painter from the trailer. There should now be nothing holding the boat to the trailer besides gravity. One person should stand near the bow of the boat but out of the path the vehicle and trailer will follow to back the boat into the water. If there is a dock along side the ramp, that person could stand on the dock and hold the side stay to help maintain control of the boat. The driver, with the windows down so he can hear, should then take orders from the person with the bow line in hand. Use commands such as Back, Forward, and Stop. “Right” and “left” are generally confusing — do you mean for the driver to turn right or left, or for the boat to go to the right or left? It’s generally better to say things like “You’re 3 inches too close (or too far) to the dock.”If you walk out onto the launch ramp and into the water, you should realize it can be very slippery. Make sure you have good balance and firm footing while moving close to the boat.When the command to Back is given, the driver should back the trailer straight into the water until the boat is floating. As the boat floats, the person controlling the boat should tell the driver to Stop and the boat should continue to move off the trailer. Move the boat to the end of the dock and tie the painter to the dock.The launch ramp should not be used to ready the boat to sail. It should be moved to a dock where no one will be waiting for you to get out of the way so they can use the ramp. To do that, lower the centerboard about 6 to 8 inches. Pick up the paddle and walk to the bow. Untie the painter from the dock and cast off. You can control the direction of the boat by the direction you paddle at the bow. The centerboard keeps the boat controllable.
Docking the boat:
Tying the boat to the dock will be your next concern. Pick a dock that allows you to tie the painter to the dock and the boat will rest head to wind on the leeward side of the dock. Find an area where there is room for your boat. If the wind is blowing directly across the dock and your boat will rest perpendicular to it, you don’t need but the width of your boat plus a little extra. If the wind is blowing the length of the dock and your boat will rest parallel to the dock, you will need the length of your boat plus a few feet extra. Always tie the boat so the boat will float about 6 feet away from the tie off. On a crowded dock, use bumpers or life jackets to cushion any rubbing between boats or against the dock.
Preparing to sail:
The following is a sample checklist of what needs to be done before you cast off from the dock:
1) Remove and store the bridle.
2) Attach the rudder or lower the rudder into the water and lock it down if it is a kick-up.
3) Lower the centerboard all the way.
4) Attach the halyard to the jib and hoist it all the way up. Most Y’s have a drum or magic box to pull the jib up the last few inches to get it tight enough.
5) Attach the halyard to the main and guide the luff rope into the groove on the mast to hoist the mainsail. A ball on the halyard will hook under a claw mounted on the side of the mast when the sail is all the way up.
6) Attach the Cunningham through the grommet in the main about 10” above the bolt in the gooseneck.
7) Make sure all safety equipment is on board.
8) Store the boom crutch and paddle.
9) Take up slack in main and jib sheets.
10) Skipper takes up his position with the mainsheet in one hand and the tiller extension in the other.
11) Crew unties painter, when all is ready, with one foot on the bow and one foot on the dock and holding the forestay for support, push the boat straight back. Take up position next to skipper.
12) Skipper steers boat straight back until clear of nearby boats. Turn the boat so that the sails fill on a reach. Tighten sails to get under way. Make any needed adjustments while under sail.
Retrieving Your Y-Flyer
Whether you are using a hoist or a ramp to pull your boat out of the water, most of the preparation is the same.
Preparation at the dock
Sails must be lowered. They do not need to be removed from the boat or unhooked from the halyards but they do need to be secured. A sail tie or bungee cord around the jib will keep it on the deck. The main can be draped into the cockpit or rolled and tied to the boom.
The centerboard should be raised but if you need to paddle any distance at all, you should leave it down a few inches to give you some control. Toss the end of the line over the side that will be next to the dock as you pull the boat so you can pull it up the final few inches.
Remove the rudder or in the case of a kick-up rudder, rotate it on its pivot until it is out of the water and secured over the transom.
If you are hoisting the boat, attach the bridle to the three points before moving to the hoist area.
Hoisting the boat
The hoisting operation requires 2 or 3 people. One operates the hoist, one controls the boat and attaches the hook from the hoist to the bridle. A third person is helpful to help control the boat if it is windy or to allow time to climb a ladder or seawall. The person controlling the boat is in-charge and the hoist operator should pay close attention to him.
Once the hook is attached to the bridle, the slack can be taken up in the cables. Stop and make sure the bridle is not twisted or unhooked. As the command is given to raise the boat, listen and watch to determine if the boat has a lot of water in it. You can usually tell if the hoist begins to strain to lift the boat. Also, the boat will most likely go bow down as you begin to lift it if there is a lot of water present. DO NOT TRY TO LIFT A BOAT FULL OF WATER.
The trailer should be in place to receive the boat. If there are lines on the parking lot indicating where the hoist swings, line the center of the trailer up with the line.
Take care to not get the spreaders caught in the hoist boom as the boat is being lifted. Control the boat so it does not hit the seawall or swing wildly. DO NOT GET UNDER THE BOAT WHILE LIFTING IT.
Guide the boat onto the trailer placing the bow near the post at the front of the trailer. You may need to guide the rear of the boat to the center of the trailer as well, depending on how close your trailer placement was to the correct location. Lower the hook until there is slack in the bridle and it can be unhooked.
Move the boat out of the way of the hoist so others can have their turn.
Ramping the boat out of the water
It requires at least 2 people to retrieve the boat using a ramp. One must drive the vehicle with the trailer attached. The other guides the boat onto the trailer.
The trailer should be backed into the water so that the front boat support is just into the water. The person guiding the boat should have the painter in one hand and the side stay in the other. The boat should be guided onto the trailer so that the bow is near the post and centered. Once it close, the painter can be flipped in such a way as to loop it over the post so when it is pulled, the boat will be pulled forward and near center. The side stay can be used to push the boat over the trailer and try to keep it centered. Once the boat is in position, the driver should slowly drive forward until the boat is out of the water. Make sure the boat is centered on the trailer. Secure the boat to the trailer with the painter. Watch for trees and power lines while moving the boat with the mast up.