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Pat & Vickie Turner's home styled trailer w/ cradle

Beneteau F235 Multi-Use Trailer
Wind Seeker gets a custom trailer with many uses - By Pat Turner

See full sizeWe 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 seen, unfortunately).

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 over.

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 price.

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

- Pat & Vickie Turner

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