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Project – New Tender Chocks

Story By: The Admiral — “Chock” it Up to Good Luck

In a story you can read by clicking here, we detail how we were on the hunt for a tender that better suited our needs than the 12’ Nautica which came with OLOH when we purchased her.  It was a great RIB (Rigid Inflatable Boat) but it just didn’t work well for us. When a classic 13’ Boston Whaler magically floated into our lives, the flame of an old love affair ignited, and we made the decision to add the little vixen to our fleet. When we acquired her we were fairly sure that it would be just too big to replace what we had so the idea of figuring out how to carry it onboard didn’t initially occur to us. The Captain had originally suggested we use it for the season and then resell it or tow it north.

Our Nautica sat fairly high on the cradle chocks which raised her profile and blocked part of the view when sitting on the bridge deck aft.

The more we used the Whaler, the more we realized we really wouldn’t be able to live (as proper yachtsmen who enjoy gunkholing) without her sitting pretty atop OLOH.  So, I pulled out my ruler, engaged my shape-bending, keen spacial-relations abilities and proclaimed, “we can fit ‘er up here. It’ll be tight, but she’ll be alright.”

Once we made that determination and found the weight to be within acceptable parameters we needed to address the most critical component to carrying the tender on the deck, the chocks. You can’t just put your tender on the deck and strap it down. Well, you could but…

Chocks are, for lack of a better term, the foundation the tender sits on when it’s onboard the mother ship.  It’s essential that it’s a good fit because you don’t want the tender moving while underway as that would be unsafe on many levels. The Nautica had cradle-style chocks that weren’t designed specifically for it, but fit it well enough and along with the tie-downs, kept the tender stable. Those chocks would not work for the Whaler so our options were to get custom designed chocks or find a universal chock that would work for us.

These chocks which came with the boat were actually specified for a Zodiac brand RIB.

I went to Whaler central, Specialty Marine and every boater forum I could find to get ideas. I searched under every imaginable variation of the word “chock.” Our goal was to thread the needle of cost and best fit for our needs – safe and stable, removable, low profile, easy install, high quality and universal in the event we decided the Whaler was a passing fancy. After a lot of frustration, I found only three options that could work for us although none were the ideal solution.

We reached out to a highly recommended vendor in Fort Lauderdale and learned that we could get custom chocks designed and installed – two chocks that ran forward-to-aft like a cradle – at a cost upwards of $4500. We considered a known marine brand which offered universal, removable chocks – two chocks forward-to-aft – that cost around $2500, or a set of four stainless steel chocks that had swivel pads and removable bases for $1200 from another known manufacturer.

We landed on the $1200 option because it hit more of our marks than the others but we didn’t love the solution.  We were bothered by the aesthetics and design so in a moment of hesitation I did not hit the “check-out” button. I decided to do one more search on the world-wide-web and that’s when something called VersaChock popped up.  We’re so glad it did.

VersaChock

I was surprised that in all my prior research I hadn’t found this option, because it seemed like a perfect solution. The universal chocks were low-profile (a six-inch rise from the deck), removable, high-quality, white powder-coated so they would blend in better with our deck, and looked to be an easy install. The price point was even better.

Check out the “What’s in the Box?” video below where I give a little detail on these pieces.

The Captain suggested I give the company a call before ordering since we couldn’t find much else out there about the product. That turned out to be a great move. When I called the number on the website and left a message I had no idea Jeff Brawner, owner and designer of VersaChock, would be the person returning my call.  He told me about his company which I’ll take directly from their website:

     — “VersaChock® is part of Jefferson Design Inc.   Jefferson Design Inc, specializes in Marine (removable tender chocks/removable cooler tie downs, etc) automotive and consumer product design, development and manufacturing. With over 32 years of development experience, JDI is able to bring expertise in providing customers with the highest quality products with the most innovative design. All VersaChock® products are proudly made in the USA. Our number one goal is to make sure our customers are satisfied beyond expectation with the quality of our products, as well as the finest customer service!

We had a terrific conversation and I found out the product was fairly new to the market at that time, which explained why I hadn’t seen them right off the top.  He was enthusiastic but wanted to make sure his product would be the right fit and after a good amount of time asking each other questions and getting plenty of details, I knew these chocks would be a great choice.  The bonus was, if we ended up changing tenders in the future, they would work for the new tender as well and they would even handle a jetski with ease if we ever decided to go in that direction.

Jeff suggested the best layout for the four chocks would be about two feet apart (forward to aft) and about four feet apart (port to starboard). Since nothing is really square on the boat deck, the real challenge was making sure they were all lined up properly.  Here you can also see where the mounts were for the bow of the old tender.

I’m no fan of guess-work…on a boat.  I won’t say I don’t enjoy the occasional challenge of assembly-without-reading-directions, but this was a different kind of guesswork.  So, I spent time marking what I thought would be the correct placement, then we hauled the tender up and suspend it over the deck so we could actually place the chocks and mark them. This ended up working out well (and my original marks were right on target). This is the aft of the tender.  You notice that the old chock plates in the center have not been removed yet.

The forward chock had a little light between one of the rails and the hull so we adjusted it slightly.

What we realized after we took this picture and examined it (immediately after taking it) was that the Whaler was sitting slightly cockeyed, so we shifted the tender and then the forward chock fit snuggly.  Then I marked their positions.

After we had our final marks and were confident of placement the real stress began. I don’t enjoy drilling holes into a boat! The bow of the tender will be going where the davit arm is and I’m busying installing the forward, starboard chock. I had a little courage-in-a-can for the assist and a tube of every-boater’s-little-buddy.

I was really impressed by my conversation with Jeff and his suite of VersaChock products is impressive as well. As a fellow boat owner, he found an area that needed to be addressed so he created a product based on his experience and needs.

At the time this story was written we had just completed what is easy to call a thorough trial run – our 1800 mile trip from Key West to New York with our Whaler securely atop the VersaChocks, never flinching, even in the considerable seas we endured at times.  We love this product and recommend that you consider VersaChock when replacing an on-deck watercraft or adding one to your fleet.

www.versachock.com

833.201.7011

 

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