finally bought our 1987 First 235 in the winter of 2001. Unfortunately,
it didn't come with trailer so the mobility/usability factor was
less than desired. I looked into having a trailer made but balked
when I found it would cost over three thousand dollars for anything
built to my standards dedicated to the F235.
Then a friend and fellow sailor had the idea of putting a cradle
on a flatbed-landscaping trailer which, though a stretch, made
more and more sense to me when I added the costs up and realized
I would have the potential for a boat and utility trailer,
for less than the price of one.
I found a cradle from our own local boat marina and modified it
a bit to perfectly fit our First 235. This cradle was actually
flexible on its own due to the folding model nature of construction.
It actually folds up and can be stored away with a footprint far
less than in fully extended form (This is the only one I have
I purchased a flat bed trailer at a local dealer for about $1500
- if used, they can be found for less, making it an even better
deal. It's a double axle trailer with a load capacity of 7000
pounds carrying electric brakes and an integral ramp. You see
a lot of them housing lawn care business machines; they are all
I ended up bolting the modified cradle to the trailer thereby
making it solid and also easier to remove when I need the trailer
for other duties. We took the ramp off as it wasn't needed for
the F235; luckily, it slides right off. The boat sits on the cradle
via four padded bunks and is secured with straps. We stained the
deck of the trailer with a solid stain which sealed the deck and
made for more pleasing appearance as well. The deck is made of
pressure treated lumber and looks just like a deck on your house.
We have only pulled the boat for short distances to our nearby
lake, this via our rather lightweight Chevy Astro van. Yep, this
is not the best tow vehicle and we plan on buying something more
substantial in the future. This trailer weighs 1000 pounds and
the cradle about 250. Given the F235 purportedly weighs around
2300 pounds, this brings the gross weight to about 3600 pounds.
A longer trailer would probably pull better. Although I have the
16-foot version of this trailer, I probably would go with the
18ft version for more room since it's only a $100 difference in
It's important to set the boat and cradle on the trailer with
the keel near the center of balance since a couple of inches forward
or back can affect the tongue weight. I set it so we have @ 250
to 300 pound tongue weight which I find a good compromise. Two
men can pick up the front of the trailer (one is not enough which
is probably a good thing).
After the boat is in the water, we can take the cradle
off, put the ramp back on, all resulting in a trailer that is
now usable with everything from hauling equipment to carrying
the car; we have even used it as a band stage for our club!
To make the trailer the MOST usable, I have decided I am going
to modify the cradle and make an extension for the trailer tongue
so that we can trailer launch the boat. As is, we have to use
the crane at the ramp. Fortunately, it only cost us $35 to use
the crane. But we want to be able to go to other places and don't
want to be tied to only places that have cranes (probably of the
much more expensive variety).
We think this is a good way to get more for you money and I don't
know anyone who would argue with that.
If you have any questions email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Pat & Vickie Turner
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