GREAT INVENTIONS

Boat roller

By Ray Ford

How one cottager made boat transportation easier

Boat roller

Photo by Joe Donaldson

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When it’s time to haul in his boat, Rideau Lakes cottager Joe Donaldson gets moving with help from an old wringer washing machine. “I don’t like leaving the sailboat in the water overnight or when I’m not around,” he says, “so I had to find a system whereby I could get it out of the water by myself.”

With the 14 1/2-foot Sunfish too heavy to lift out and drag up the steep slope at his Otter Lake cottage, Donaldson decided to winch the craft ashore on rollers. But where was he going to get rollers? Recalling the wringer washers his family used up until the early 1970s, Donaldson reckoned that if he could find a similar machine, the rollers could be put to new use—long after squeezing the water out of their last load of laundry.

“There’s an antique dealer near our cottage, and he had some old washers out back. I went there and bought four rollers.”

Gathering a handsaw, chisel, drill with a spade bit, and a collection of old 4×4 and 2×4 scrap lumber, Donaldson cut and lag-bolted the blocks together to make brackets for the rollers.

He fastened the blocks to the edge of the dock and a retaining wall, dropped the rollers into slots he’d chiselled and drilled into the blocks, and secured them with stainless steel brackets.

“I just lift the boat up onto the lower pair of washing-machine rollers, winch it out onto the second set, and then keep winching it up onto the grass,” he says. When it’s time to launch, Donaldson reverses the process, rolling the vessel back into the water. As he adds, it’s quick, easy, and more fun than doing laundry.


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