FF Craning at South Cerney…..!!!

OK – so the Aussies think they are pretty smart at the cricket, eh!!  As soon as it was stumps at the third test, I got three emails from down under reminding me straight away!!

Right! – so it looks like despite the warm climate, gorgeous water (as if that really matters to real men – ha !), their FF sailing is geared to staying dry and they do some pretty neat FF cranes to launch with.

What about British ingenuity though??!!!!   Come on GBR!!!! Can we come up with something even smarter, neater, (cheaper) – just you know, cleverer??!!  Well actually, there’s some pretty smart thinking been going on at South Cerney on dedicated FF cranes. Richard Taylor sent this in. Take a look…. You have to admire the sheer ingenuity!!  (£1=$A1.5  !!)

South Cerney Sailing Club

F15 Launching & Recovery by Crane

At SCSC we sail on a large excavated lake which has very “steep-too” banks. For Dinghies we have made a sloping gravel beach where they can be launched and recovered by hand easily on trolleys in only knee high depth of water.

South Cerney Crane 1

For F15’s this would involve either a deeper water slipway and winch or a 4×4 vehicle, all of which seemed a lot of “hassle” so, as we have number of Engineers with good contacts sailing in our fleet, we came up with a crane solution!

The pictures below show our current crane which, after 14 years of experience, has now been refined to the third generation. It is a free standing pillar crane mounted on a 1500 x 1500 x 10mm steel plate rawlbolted through to a 300mm thick reinforced concrete foundation.


South Cerney Crane 2 

The crane is manually operated and fitted with a Brake Winch that has friction plates which support the load when winding stops.


1. Position the boat under the hook and lower to hook-on the lifting strops previously attached to the boat – and check the bailers are closed!

 South Cerney attaching Boat 3

Note: The crane can pivot either left or right through more than 180 Degrees, so if there is no space on the pontoons it is possible to launch and sail off under Jib to hoist the main. (Also, there are “bump stops to prevent the trailer going over the edge!)


2. Remove the trailer so that the boat can be swung over the water, and the next boat to launch can begin to move in.


South Cerney swingh boat out4 

3. Lower the load by winding in reverse against the friction, which controls the rate of descent and enables it to be stopped instantly.

 South Cerney Lower Boat5

4. When the boat is resting on the water remove the wire lifting strops, which are attached to an eye plate fitted to the keel bolts behind the mast and to U-bolts fitted through the gunwales on each side at the rear of the cockpit.-

 South Cerney Keel bolt attachments6

South Cerney Rear Lines7

We are able to launch and recover in just a few minutes per boat and we usually work as a Helm & Crew team because it quicker and safer, but if necessary and with light winds it is quite possible to operate single handed.  

The crane is inspected and certified every year to comply with Health and Safety and insurance requirements. The maintenance costs are relatively low – greasing the top and bottom pivots and cable pulleys, cleaning the friction plates every year, and replacing these plates and the stainless steel cable every 3 years.

Our thanks to Richard Taylor and his colleagues at South Cerney for sending this in – very clever and very achievable!!!  ( I just keep thinking of dry feet !!)

By comparison, our new keelboat jetty at Datchet cost £25,000 plus !!!

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