Practical Boat Owner

How to trailer sail



The Etap 22i with a breakback trailer is about the largest boat that can be trailed, and launched, and is the most seaworthy in its class. The only slight downside is that its keel does not fully retract for drying out.

Where to launch

After some unpleasant experience­s, I only use bigger concrete slipways, preferably with a place to moor up within 20m. is useful, but only about 10% of the slipways listed are suitable for a large heavy boat, and looking at the slipway on Google Earth and Streetview is recommende­d.

I used to launch and retrieve from the same slipway, but this meant retracing my steps, so I prefer to retrieve at journey’s end. Getting back to the car and trailer by bus is easy with timetables on the Traveline website. We also take our folding Brompton bikes to extend our exploratio­ns ashore.

Time of year to go

Coastal hopping between drying harbours requires daylight for both high waters (HW) in the same day, as these harbours are not suitable for night-time navigation, especially for new visitors. The HW time is about one hour later each day, so a five-day trip needs a day length of 15 hours, with the light being present for an hour or so on either side of sunrise and sunset. This means these trips are only possible between mid-May and mid-August. HW time on the first day needs to be close to sunrise, 0500 BST.


Most of these harbours are a long way from a fuel station, so I take 40lt of petrol but usually find that I bring most of it home, and put it back into the car. There is little opportunit­y to charge the two boat batteries en route, so I have a portable power pack and ask to charge that up when we eat out in a café or pub.

We take five old plastic 1.5lt bottles, which we refill with water when we can. The boat did have a water pump and container, but it developed an unpleasant taste that we could not get rid of.

The toilet is a Porta Potti. For eco reasons, we have experiment­ed using it without chemicals, and it seems to run just as well –and can be emptied with far less environmen­tal harm.


I find the forecasted wind direction and then decide which way to do the trip. This trip had been planned from Fishguard to Aberystwyt­h, but when we came to go, the wind was settled from the north-east, so I did it the other way round.

We usually have enough reception to

view the Inshore Waters Forecast via Google on our phones. This often warns of Force 6, but careful reading may show the gale is outside the time you plan to be sailing. I also use the land forecasts on the BBC and Met Office apps, together with Windfinder and Windy.


■ Admiralty 5620 South West Wales Small Craft Charts. I used 4,5,6 &7. £15 each.

■ OS 1:25,000 ‘Explorer’ maps. OL35 was very useful for Newport (Pembs), especially when a photo of the estuary was taken and magnified, to show the features which are not on the Admiralty Chart.

Pilot books

■ Sea Guide to Pembrokesh­ire, Tony Bennett, Imray. Recommende­d

■ Lundy and Irish Sea Pilot, David Taylor, Imray

■ Visit My Harbour, website for tide times and harbour info. Recommende­d

■ Reeds Nautical Almanac, informatio­n for the minor harbours does get out of date, as they are visited so infrequent­ly by sailors, and are not getting any significan­t income out of visitors.

■ Plus Google to find out the English versions of Welsh town names.

 ?? ?? Frank Sibly’s Etap 22i is a 20-footer, with a lifting keel
Frank Sibly’s Etap 22i is a 20-footer, with a lifting keel

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