Title:
One-person retractable boat-launching device
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A device for assisting one-man launching of boats from boat trailers is provided. A tensioned rope is retained and secured within a reel attached to a boat trailer or other location. In use, the tensioned rope is secured to the trailered boat and retains the boat after the boat is floated free of its trailer. The reel may be removably secured to a number of locations to enable a multiple of uses such as a boat attached line for towing a bait container or sea anchor. The invention includes a trailer having a tensioned rope to allow automatic controlled release of a boat during launch.



Inventors:
Lilly, Jerry R. (Tallahassee, FL, US)
Application Number:
10/369883
Publication Date:
02/12/2004
Filing Date:
02/20/2003
Assignee:
LILLY JERRY R.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
280/414.1, 405/1, 414/506
International Classes:
B60P3/10; B65H75/48; (IPC1-7): B65H75/48
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
LOWE, MICHAEL S
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
John Wiley Horton (Tallahassee, FL, US)
Claims:

I claim:



1. A device for maintaining control of a trailered boat when the boat is removed from the trailer during launch into water, comprising: a rope reel; means of securing the reel to a boat trailer; a rope retained within the reel; means of allowing release of the rope from the reel while maintaining tension; such that the reel may be secured to a boat trailer and the rope secured to a boat on the trailer and the boat removed from the trailer while the rope limits the movement of the boat.

2. The device of claim 1, and wherein: the means of allowing release of the rope includes a spring connected between the reel and rope, the spring biasing the rope into the reel.

3. The device of claim 2, and further comprising: means of removably securing the reel to the boat.

4. The device of claim 2, and wherein: the means of securing the reel comprises a means of removably securing.

5. The device of claim 2, and further comprising: a brake for increasing the rope tension.

6. A trailer for controlled release of a boat from the trailer, comprising: a trailer body having a boat wench; a rope reel removably secured to the boat trailer; a rope retained within the reel; and means of allowing release of the rope from the reel while maintaining tension.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] 1. Field of the Invention

[0002] The present invention relates generally to a one-person retractable boat-launching device wherein an individual can launch a boat from a trailer without any assistance and more particularly to a novel and unique retractable boat launching and retrieval device which is designed to conveniently enhance the boat launching process as well as provides for multi-purpose boating devices including but not limited to use as an anchor rope, a boat tie-up rope, a rope to tow a bait bucket, as well as a rope to tow a sock anchor and safety-boat-trailer tie down.

[0003] 2. Description of the Prior Art

[0004] In general, launching a trailered boat is a task that normally requires two or more people. One person is required to back the trailer towing vehicle with the boat in tow into the boat launching area. Once the vehicle has backed far enough down a launching ramp, the boat must be unsecured from the trailer in order for the boat to float off the trailer and into the water. During this process, the boat often comes off the trailer and into the water with such force that it requires a strong person to securely hold a rope or the like attached to the boat in order to prevent the boat from violently hitting an adjacent dock or pier area, or floating away.

[0005] Thus, the entire boat launching process can be an unsafe ordeal for boaters, particularly with larger boats. The boat owner must depend on others to assist, whether it is someone lending a hand at the boat launching area, or perhaps a spouse or a young child. The need for multiple persons to assist in safely launching a boat places those persons unnecessarily in harms way. To this end, there have been numerous devices developed to aid a boater in launching and retrieving a boat. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 5,078,541 issued to Gola discloses a method for launching and retrieving a boat by means of a hook via a tension line connected to a reel. Once the boat has been launched, the Gola device allows the user to retrieve the boat by depressing a button which locks the tension line, thereby providing for automatically reeling up the tension line thereby bringing the boat back to the person holding the reel. Although the Gola device may be efficient for launching and retrieving a boat, this device is limited in its scope of use, and requires two people.

[0006] Yet another example is seen in U.S. Pat. No. 5,154,564 issued to Koch which discloses a portable launcher-unloader for boat trailers, that provides a means of launching a boat directly from a trailer. This device is comprised of a launching wrench that upon activation will move in a rearward directional thrust to move the boat off the trailer and into the water. The launching wrench is connected to a winch rope, which is snapped into a boat bow eye. Although this device may be effective in launching a boat, one must still maintain the winch rope, to ensure the boat does not float away. This will require someone with good strength to assist in the launching process. Thus, two people are necessary to launch the boat.

[0007] As will be seen, none of these previous efforts provide the multiple benefits intended with the present invention, such as providing a one-person boat-launching device. What is needed is a one-person boat-launching device, which will quickly and easily enhance the boat launching process and may be designed and configured to serve as a multi-purpose boating device. Additionally, prior techniques do not suggest the present inventive combination of component elements as disclosed and claimed herein. The present invention achieves its intended purposes, objectives and advantages over the prior art devices through a new, useful and unobvious combination of component elements, which is simple to use, with the utilization of a minimum number of functioning parts, at a reasonable cost to manufacture, assemble, test and by employing only readily available material.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0008] The present invention provides for a novel and unique one-person retractable boat launching device, providing an effective means of launching a boat from a trailer into the water without any assistance. This portable boat launching device of the present invention may be designed and configured to be utilized as a multi-purpose device, which will further include, but not limited to an anchor rope, a rope to tie up the boat to the dock, a rope to tow the bait bucket, as well as a rope to tie the sock anchor.

[0009] The device of the present invention stores, releases with a slight tension, and retrieves a rope that is used to tether the boat during the launching process. This provides for a smooth rearward launch from the trailer of the boat by eliminating any tangled rope.

[0010] This retractable boat launching device of the present invention comprises a reel housing which stores a secured rope, a reel side frame bracket, a reel mounting bracket, a frame mounting bracket, a housing connection band, a rope guide, a rope spool flange, a rope spool, spring mechanism, retractable rope, snap hook, star drag, a winch arm, and winch gears.

[0011] In the preferred embodiment, the device of the present invention provides for a series of brackets to removably secure the device of the present invention in various locations on the boat or the boat trailer. In addition, the present invention provides for a twist on-twist off bracket type device removably secured to the various cleats on the boat. Thus, the device of the present invention may also be utilized in reverse with the device stored on board the boat. In this embodiment, an eye of the rope is removably secured to the trailer wench pedestal or other locations.

[0012] When utilizing the device of the present invention, the launching process would include the following steps; 1) back the trailer with the boat to the edge of the water; 2) secure the drain plug in the boat and remove securing straps and wench rope from the boat, then removably secure the rope from the device of the present invention to the eye on the bow of the boat; 3) back the trailer with boat into the water until the boat floats off and is clear of the trailer. In one method of use of the invention, the empty trailer must be pulled out of the water to be able to reach the tie-off rope which is removably secured to the trailer; 4) secure the boat to the shore or dock with the rope from the device of the present invention; 5) pull the trailer out of the water; 6) detach the rope from the shore or dock and retract the rope onto the reel of the device of the present invention.

[0013] Accordingly, it is the object of the present invention to provide for a one-person retractable boat-launching device which will overcome the deficiencies, shortcomings, and drawbacks of prior boat launching devices geared specifically towards a means of enabling a single person to safely launch a boat.

[0014] Still another object of the present invention is to provide a portable device that is aesthetically pleasing, as well as can be used for multiple purposes.

[0015] Yet another object of the present invention is to provide a one-person portable retractable boat-launching device in accordance with the preceding objects and which will conform to conventional forms of manufacture, be of simple construction and easy to use so as to provide a device that would be economically feasible, long lasting and relatively trouble free in operation.

[0016] Although there have been many inventions related to boat launching devices, none of the inventions have become sufficiently compact, low cost, and aesthetically pleasing to become commonly used by one person. The present invention meets the requirements of the simplified design, compact size, low initial cost, low operating cost, ease of installation and maintainability, and minimal amount of training to successfully employ the invention.

[0017] The foregoing has outlined some of the more pertinent objects of the present invention. These objects should be construed to be merely illustrative of some of the more prominent features and application of the intended invention. Many other beneficial results can be obtained by applying the disclosed invention in a different manner or modifying the invention within the scope of the disclosure. Accordingly, a fuller understanding of the invention may be had by referring to the detailed description of the preferred embodiments taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0018] FIG. 1 is a side view of the retractable boat launcher device of the present invention.

[0019] FIG. 2 is a top view of the retractable boat launcher device of the present invention.

[0020] FIG. 3 is a top view of the internal components of the retractable boat launcher of the retractable boat launcher device of the present invention.

[0021] FIG. 4 is a side view of the retractable boat launcher device of the present invention, illustrating the braking feature, the star drag.

[0022] FIG. 5 is a top view of the retractable boat launcher device of the present invention, illustrating the attached braking means.

[0023] FIG. 6 is a top view of the internal components of the retractable boat launcher device of the present invention with the attached breaking means.

[0024] FIG. 7 is a side view of the preferred embodiment of the device of the present invention illustrating the braking feature.

[0025] FIG. 8 is a top view of the device of the present invention illustrating the winch arm, as well as the braking feature of the present invention.

[0026] FIG. 9 is an internal top view of the device of the present invention illustrating the internal features of the device including the rope spool, and the rope spool flange, as well as the wrench gears and the flat coil spring system.

[0027] FIG. 10 of the device of the present invention illustrates the steps of the launching process.

[0028] Similar reference numerals refer to similar parts throughout the views of the drawings.

DETAILS OF EMBODIMENTS OF THE PRESENT INVENTION

[0029] With reference to the drawings, in particular to FIGS. 1-10 thereof, the portable one-person multi-purpose retractable boat launching device of the present invention, generally denoted by reference numeral 10, is designed and configured to enable an individual to launch a boat from the trailer and retrieve the boat without any assistance. The present invention is a novel and unique device which can be used in a various different environments and situations, for enabling convenient and quick needs on the boat including but not limited to use as an anchor rope, a boat tie-up rope, a rope to tow a bait bucket, as well as a rope to tow a sock anchor and may be used as a safety-boat-trailer tie down.

[0030] The device of the present invention 10 is portable and multi-purpose and is secureably removable via various brackets located on the boat or the trailer, so as to innately provide a device that is non-obtrusive, as well as safe. Two important safety features of the present invention include the ability to utilize the device as a safety line to be thrown to somebody who has fallen overboard or may be connected to a life saving floatation device. In addition, the device of the present invention 10 may be used as a safety-boat-tie down device at the trailer winch pedestal location. An optional feature provides for a two-way ratchet which brings the rope in at either the top or the bottom to hold down the bow of the boat.

[0031] To allow for such an efficient and effective portable multi-purpose device, the present invention 10 is comprised of a reel 12. As seen in FIGS. 1,2,3,4 and 7, the device of the present invention 10 includes a reel 12, a rope 14 with a snap hook 16 attached to one end of the rope with a reel housing 18 and a removably secured type handle 20, which may be inserted into various brackets 22 on the boat and trailer. In addition, the handle 20 provides for a twist-on, twist-off notch built within the handle to be removably secured to each respective cleat (not shown) on the boat. The other end of the rope attaches to the reel 12 which is rotatably engaged in the reel housing 18. As seen in FIGS. 6 and 9, the spring-biased reel 12 is comprised of a flat-coiled spring mechanism 44 surrounding a rotatable shaft under tension. As seen in FIGS. 4,6 and 9, a stop or locking means type star drag feature 24 or the like cooperates with a spring biases reel 12 in order to provide for the appropriate tension on the rope 14 as the rope 14 is released to launch the boat. This drag feature 24 also cooperates with the retraction means 26 in conjunction with the wench gears 42 via the wench arm 28 in order to retract and pull the boat back to the dock or launch site after the boat trailer is pulled out of the water. As an optional feature of the device of the present invention, the winch system may provide for an oil impregnated bushing on every shaft end in order to facilitate easy cranking via the winch arm 28.

[0032] As seen in FIGS. 1,6 and 9, the device of the present invention provides for a reel side frame bracket 30 to support the reel 12, reel mounting brackets 32, frame mounting bracket 22 and a pin 46 removably secured to the device 10. The housing 18 is comprised of a housing connector band 34 and a rope guide 36. The reel 12 is comprised of a rope spool flange 38 and a rope spool 40.

[0033] As illustrated in FIG. 10, in use, an individual would utilize the device of the present invention 10 during the boat launching process which will include the following steps: 1) back the trailer with the boat to the edge of the water; 2) secure the drain plug in the boat and remove the safety securing straps as well as the trailer wench rope from the boat. In addition, the individual will removably secure the snap hook 16 to the eye on the bow of the boat; 3) back the boat trailer and boat into the water until the boat floats off the trailer and is clear of the trailer. In one embodiment wherein the device of the present invention is removably secured to the trailer, the empty trailer must be pulled out of the water to be able to reach the boat, or as on option the device of the present invention 10 may be removably secured to a frame mounting bracket 22 or the like; 5) pull the trailer out of the water; and 6) engage the present device 10 to automatically retract a smaller boat back to the dock or shore, or in the alternative with a larger boat, operate the wench arm 28 to crank the boat back to the dock or shore.

[0034] The device of the present invention 10 provides a unique and novel braking/drag feature 24, as illustrated in FIG. 7, which provides for the following optional features: 1. Super-efficient multi-disk star drag with infinite anti-reverse powerful braking action; 2. Adjustable centrifical system with exterior dial-in spool braking with continuous anti-reverse and super free spool gearing; 3. Oversized indexed drag; 4. Dual centrifical and mechanical braking system; 5. Seven element Teflon-graphite super drag system; 6. Live liner which features an adjustable tension-free spool feature separate from the main drag.

[0035] In an alternative embodiment, the device of the present invention 10 may be comprised of all the features of the preferred embodiment, except the drag braking feature 24.

[0036] As illustrated in FIGS. 4, 5 and 6, in another alternative embodiment of the present invention, the device of the present invention 10 may be comprised of all the features of the preferred embodiment, except the winch arm 28 and the winch gears 42.

[0037] As illustrated in FIGS. 1, 2 and 3, in yet another alternative embodiment, the device of the present invention 10 may be comprised of all the features of the preferred embodiment, except the drag braking feature 24 and the winch arm 28.

[0038] While the invention has been particularly shown and described with reference to an embodiment thereof, it will be understood by those skilled in the art that various changes in form and detail may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.