Three Buoys Boat Loader


Its been some time since I got my electric boat loader onto my truck, and I figured it was time to give it a "grade", for those who may be thinking of getting something similar.  First of all, there are other manufacturers other than Three Buoys and I won't get into the other ones, most work on the same principle, some are Canadian and some are American, I chose to stick with a locally made (in Kelowna) product, but bought mine used.  Good old Kijiji came through, again, and I found what I wanted down in Salmo.  Now the rig I bought was at least 10 years old, and definitely "old school" when compared to the same companies loaders that they sell today.  The one I bought is a Dovetail Boatloader which was in fact made by Three Buoys, one of their first prototypes really.  Since then they have improved quite a few things, most noticeable the strength of the frame itself.  I think because car toppers are getting bigger and heavier that they are just keeping up with that, and subsequently a better built product but of course, at a higher price! 

I paid $800 for mine, and put another $200 into it to make it work for my boat.  My Alumacraft has one of the wider gunnels on it than others, and at 68" wide there was no way the stock rack would hold it, max on it was approx. 63".  So, after some measuring and searching, I found the place in Kelowna that actually supplies the aluminum tubing for Three Buoys!  While this seemed like a good find, I also discovered that they now use a thicker walled tube than mine was, so again some fabricating was necessary to make the brackets fit that I had.  What I can say is that I saved at least $800 by doing this myself, as the Optional Kit sold by Three Buoys for a wider boat was pretty danged expensive, and no guarantees that it would work for my old loader.  New loaders, the basic one, runs approx. $2800 bucks, and that's if you install it yourself.  Throw in the "wide kit" and the rack is pushing $4000 bucks with taxes in!  You do get a helluva aluminum structure though, best built one I've ever seen, and you get the new style electric motor that is mounted in the middle of the tube rather than on the end like mine is.  That and you can even throw in a wireless remote for the whole thing if you want!

There is no "magic" as to how the thing works, check out Three Buoys website for a You Tube video of it in action, its the cats ass!  My boat, at approx. 250 lbs with all the extra stuff I have on it, loads or unloads in less than a minute, that simple.  Probably the only tricky part about the setup was getting the ropes the right length to make it all work properly, and over time adjustments have to be made to these ropes to keep the boat loading up evenly. There are no knots to the ropes but a unique style of braided rope that is "hollow", and the rope is simply pushed back through itself via a Fid, a hollow plastic tube into which the rope is inserted, pretty slick!  I have found that the loading ropes will loosen over time, but that is only because my boat, at 14' in length, and the alterations I have made, does not fit perfectly onto the rack as its supposed to.  I could change this by going to a wider tube up front but chose to leave it as is for now, so just check the ropes on occasion and use the electric motor to tighten it as necessary.

I've had many compliments on the way the unit works, and have quite a few videos taken of it in action down on the various boat launches I've been at.  What surprises everyone is that once its up on the rack, it has actually tied itself down already and I can just drive away!  I've timed myself with the unloading and getting the car topper ready to go in comparison to my old Harbercraft on the trailer, and it's pretty much the same length of time.  Mind you, if your going fishing rather than sitting around the house,  who cares how long it takes, at least your out of the house!  One drawback I have noticed now the snow has fallen, is that snow loves to stick to aluminum if there's any moisture on the metal.  Once that happens you start to get an ice/snow buildup on the hull, which adds weight to it.  Then what happens is you loose your "pivot point" of your boat, that is when it is either tilting on the way up or down, a crucial feature of the loader.  I had ice/snow buildup on mine this winter and the boat would not tilt, which made unloading impossible, if not dangerous, so keep the hull clear of ice and snow.  Secondly, and this just happened a couple days before I wrote this piece, I found out that cold temps make the hollow braided rope, slippery?  What I mean is that it doesn't tighten around itself as well as in warm weather.  I found this out as the one rope came apart and my boat came crashing off the side of my truck, nearly taking out a house window!  Lesson learned, watch the ropes closer in cold weather!  The following are a few pics Mikey took on our trip to White Lake this past season, just to give you an idea of it in action. If you have any questions about it shoot me some mail and I'll try and answer them............