Allen Boat Company, Inc. — Championship Lightnings & World Class Highlanders

200 Cornwall Ave
Buffalo, New York 14215
Phone: 716-842-0800
Fax: 716-842-0113

This is a description of how I have loaded and secured Lightings for shipment in containers. This guideline may help others who need to ship Lightings around the world. If there are suggestions or new ideas that people come up with please send them to me and I will try to update this from time to time. I know there is a lot of ways to do this but I know this has worked for me before and can be done fairly quickly.

Shipping Container


There are basically two stages to the stuffing. The masts have to be loaded first and then the boats second.

I always hang the masts from the roof. I have had damage result from laying the masts on the floor due to moving the trailers in and out or from the mast bouncing into the trailer axles. Use two pieces of 2x6 about 6 feet long to make bunks to tie the masts down to. If there are a lot of masts, the length can be up to around 7.5 feet. These wood bunks need to be hung with 2 ropes that go all the way across the container and cross under the board. These ropes are what hold the masts but also help to keep them from swinging.

If you use about fifteen feet long line (5/16), the bunks can first be hung low enough to easily get the masts on and tied down. The bunks should be placed about 18 feet apart, equidistant from the center of the container. After the masts are all tied on to the bunks, the bunks can be cinched up close the roof. This can be done with a number of people pushing the bunk up and another tying off the lines. This cinching can also be done with a loop tied in the line to make a multiple purchase to hoist up the bunks.

Holes are needed to run the lines through to support the bunks. These holes are about 2 to 2.5 feet from the center of the bunk. The bunk hanging lines should be tied about four or five feet apart to the container roof. The lines that are used to tie the masts down are about three feet long and ¼ or 3/16 diameter. You can also tie lines to help stop the rig from swinging forward and backwards. This is usually not necessary, but it is not a bad idea.

There are a few other notes on the masts that may help. It is better if the masts are in bags to keep everything together and to help the masts from sliding. If bare tubes are shipped not in covers, some bubble pack or carpet should be taped to them where they are being tied down to stop them from sliding. They will slide if this is not done. Make sure all the masts are labeled with names on both ends to make sorting them out later much easier.

The packing is easier if the spreaders are out of the mast, but not impossible. If the spreaders are hard to take out, leave them in and just stagger them fore and aft so they do not hit. The spreader masts should be closer to the middle so they do not hit the sides and rotated to miss the splash rails. The spreaders will need to be tied up at an angle with a small piece of line so they do not hit the boats.

he trailers should be prepped before they are stuffed into the containers. There needs to be four lines about 3.5 feet long tied to the trailer. These lines are tied around the frame rails, not to the tie down loops—two in front of the back bunk and two behind the front bunk. These loops are to hold the ratchet binder straps that are used to secure the boats in the container.

The straps will go from a floor ring on one side of the container through one loop, under the boat and through the second loop and then to the floor ring on the other side. The rope loops need to support the straps below the boats, so tie them with the bottom of the loop just below the side rail on the trailer. The loops should be around 3 foot long and at least ½ diameter line. The stuffing is easier if the loops are tied on and the ratchet straps and led through the loops before the trailers are moved into the container.

Push the first set of boats into the container watching the fenders carefully. The back of the boat should end up about 3 inches from the container. When the boats are almost in, rotate the boat to the side of the dolly wheel. This will allow the next set of boats to come in and nest with the first set. Tighten both ratchet straps on the back so the boat ends up with that 3 inches of clearance.

Move the next set in until there is about 3 inches clearance at the door. Again tighten both straps so the clearance stays at 2 to 3 inches. The wheel can be blocked to add security. Make sure the fronts of the trailers are not hitting the boats. Sometimes the front may have to be moved up or down to get clearance, or there may have to be a block of wood put in-between the trailers to protect them.

The tongues of the trailers can be strapped together if they look like they will rub or move. The following are a few other thoughts on prepping the boats. If there is a fifth stanchion on the front of the trailers, try and move it back about tree feet from the front so when the trailers are overlapped the stanchions do not hit. If you move the boats a bit forward on the trailers, there is less of an overlap, which makes the packing a bit easier.

Tell everybody to leave there bailers open and tie there boats down well. People should tie or tape their mast posts to the trailers so they are available at the other end of the trip to move the boats if needed. Also ask people to save all lines and ratchet binders so we could use them again.

If possible stuff Allen trailers together and Nickels trailers together. If the two different styles have to go together, the tongue on the Nickels may have to be removed to make room to overlap the trailers and so the tongue does not cause any damage to the other boat.

hope this helps people safely and quickly pack Lightnings to send them all over the world. I will include some pictures of the masts tied up in the container.

Thanks for sailing Lightings!

Equipment needed for typing the boats to the container:

  1. (4) 2” ratchet binders. These need to be at least 20 feet long and heavy duty. The ones I use are 10,000 lbs load rated and 27 to 30 feet long.
  2. (8) 3’ pieces of rope for making loops to hold the binders below the boat. At least ½ inch diameter.
  3. Smaller ratchet binder if you want to fix the tongues together.
  4. Wooden blocking for the tires if you want.
Equipment needed for tying the masts (they are 27’6” masts):
  1. 2 wooden pieces of 2” x 6” (about the length of the width of the container, 6 to 7.5 feet).
  2. 4 pc rope for tying the wooden pieces to the ceiling of the container. 5/16” and 15’ long.
  3. 2 pc rope for each mast. For tying the masts to the wooden pieces. 3/16 or ¼ and 3’ long.
  4. 4 pc rope for spring line (optional). 3/16 or ¼” about 12 feet long.
This is a list of other equipment that could be helpful:
  1. A 6’ ladder or two is very useful for tying the boards up.
  2. Spare lines to tie in the hooks to the container. Some of the hooks do not fit the rings on the floor. ½” minimum.
  3. Other smaller spare line.
  4. Padding and tape just in case.
  5. Knife and a lighter to cut and burn lines.
  6. Socket set and wrenches.