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IC24 Column: IC24 Dry Storage Cradles Ideal for Hurricane Season

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The IC24 was born of a desire to jump-start sailing at the St. Thomas Yacht Club (STYC) in the wake of successive hurricanes which decimated the club’s racing fleet. So one of the first things the initial IC24 owners thought about was to protect their vessels during storm season. Thus, avid sailor and architect, Carlos Aguilar, and boat builder, Morgan Avery, got together, designed and built an IC24-specific haul-out trailer and cradle storage system.

The STYC doesn’t have a crane for lifting boats out of the water and onto a trailer, but rather an asphalt boat ramp where a trailer can be backed into the water and the boat floated aboard. Initially, the club only had two J/24 trailers for its six IC24s. “One was in pretty bad shape and the other we cus tomized to fit the ICs keel,” Aguilar explained.

Specifically, the two sailors cut the back axel of the trailer and formed it into a V-shape. This configuration allows the boat to float into the trailer unobstructed and also allows the trailer to be easily pulled away later. They also added a third wheel in front.

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Once the IC24s were on the trailer, they were driven a short distance of 30 to 40 feet to individual cradles for land storage during hurricane season. Aguilar and Avery designed and built the cradles out of plywood with metal cross bracings.

“To make a cradle, you need to purchase two pieces of 2×4 regular treated plywood, bolts and 1×1 galvanized steel tubing for the bracing from a hardware or lumber store. The cost per cradle today would be about $400 and you could easily build one in a weekend,” Aguilar says.

The cradle consists of two frames that the IC sits on top. The cradles have an 8-foot wide base and are spaced 10-feet apart. There is metal bracing to keep the frames in place. The two frames and bracing combine to support both the bow and stern of the IC. The boat is balanced with the keel in the middle and the keel rests on a 3×6 block of wood.

“It takes a group effort of about a dozen people to get the six boats out of the water with one trailer and onto their individual cradles for hurricane season,” Aguilar says.

The more recently converted ICs have their own trailers and sit upon these in the boatyard for the season rather than in cradles.

The out-hauling takes place in mid to late August, with the boats usually stored on land until November 1.

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“The first group of people, working about two per boat, take the masts and rigging off the boats. Then, usually a group of older kids will help drive the boats over to the ramp,” Aguilar explains. “Either Morgan or I drive the trailer into the water.” The trailer is fully submerged. Therefore, a 60-foot length of rope is needed to stretch between the trailer in the water and the truck parked on the boat ramp.

Avery explains, “The trailer’s third wheel, actually a wheelbarrow wheel, prevents the tongue of the trailer from plunging into the sand when the boat is pulled out of the water.”

“We have a diver, who wears a mask and snorkel, attach the rope from the boat to the trailer. Once it’s out, we drive it to the cradle,” adds Aguilar.

At the cradle, Avery explains that the boat is backed into position and the back frame is pushed up to the back of the boat. The frame is affixed with a 3×6 diagonal brace that prevents the boat from falling backwards. Thus, the back frame takes the load while an A-frame lift with rope attached is used to elevate the bow and set it down into the front frame. The stands on the trailer need to be set down a foot or so, so that the trailer can be pulled out from underneath the boat.

“The boats are parked about six inches apart, enough room for a fender to fit between,” says Avery. “This means that if there’s a hurricane, the boats are all basically fit together and supported by one another.”

It takes about four hours to haul the six ICs out of the water and place them on their cradles.

“When hurricane season is over, the cradle pieces disassemble and stack on top of each other in a neat package,” Aguilar explains.

Drawings of the IC24 modified trailer and cradle are available from Aguilar upon request.

Hurricane Season Yacht Storage in the Caribbean

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Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.

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