About 12 months ago I fitted a great locally designed gadget to the front of my boat and about 200 launches down the track I can report that it's one of the best investments I ever made.
The patented Release and Retrieve Boat Latch is by far the cleverest device of its kind. Constructed from high-quality marine-grade stainless steel, it is designed to eliminate most of the problems associated with drive-drive off trailers.
A lot of boaties these days prefer to power their craft on to and off their trailers - a manoeuver which takes a little practice to get right, but ultimately removes much of the effort involved in a manual launch or retrieve.
The new device isn't intended to replace the trailer winch mechanism or safety chain, but when operated according to the instructions, it makes the whole boat ramp exercise safer and quicker.
It takes about 30 minutes to fit it to the bow of most trailer craft [aluminium or fibreglass] and then remains as a permanent fixture. It consists of two components - a latch assembly that is attached to the trailer winch post and a snare that's fitted to the existing bow hook of the boat. When it's time to launch the boat, the trailer is reversed to the water's edge with the latch in the locked position.
The original safety chain is then removed and the winch is released so that the boat can move back and be caught by the latch. At this point the trailer winch cable hook can be disengaged and the latch lever moved to the release position.
Next step is to reverse until the boat is in the water, start the motor and then power slightly forward. This enables the latch to automatically release and the boat should glide off the trailer.
Retrieving is the reverse process. The driver powers the boat up and onto the trailer and rests about a metre from the latch. After allowing the boat to settle and line up straight, the driver then applies more power until the snare component is engaged by the latch.
The tow vehicle then moves forward and the winch hook and safety chain can be connected. The rig is then ready to be pulled completely out of the water. In a traditional drive on retrieval, it's necessary for the driver to maintain outboard power to hold the boat's bow in place while someone hooks up the winch cable and safety chain, but this device does away with all this.