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RC Boat Retrieval 101

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  • RC Boat Retrieval 101

    If you RC boat long enough then you've no doubt come across this challenge. How do I get my toy-boat back if it dies in the water? I've been RC boating for a lot of years and I've found one of the simplest tool's to be the the most effective for RC boat retrieval: a $15 Zebco rod/reel with a tennis ball. Saturated with water it has just the right amount of weight to be able to sling it great distances. The idea is to cast it over the boat then hold the line low while slowly reeling to snag the antenna or rudder (if it's flipped upside down) at which point you can reel it in. With the recent rain in Lake Elsinore, CA the lake was 3-4ft higher than usual. The wind was blowing me into an unfavorable area for recovery. I was forced to walk/wade out into an area previously not underwater and make a few targeted casts to get it back. Air temp was about 60 with water temp about the same. I nearly ran to the house to throw on a wet suit, grab the body board, and go for a swim. Deeming that unsafe given the conditions and with the wind pushing it at least to a semi-safe area I chose to be patient and seek alternative means. Do what you must to get your toy boat back but NO toy boat is worth your life.


  • #2
    Never boat without your retrieval device!


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    • #3
      Comes in pretty handy at float flys too!

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      • #4
        I was fully expecting to see a gator pounce on ya there at Swamp Elsinore
        Warbird Charlie
        HSD Skyraider; FlightLine: OV-10, Sea Fury; FMS 1400: P-40B, P-51, F4U, F6F, T-28, P-40E, 1700 F4U & F7F, FOX glider; Freewing: A-6, P-51; VQ: P-39; Dynam: ME-262, FW-190, Waco; ASM A-26; ESM F7F-3; LX PBJ-1 EFL CZ T-28, C-150

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        • #5
          Dang, I guess I went too elaborate with a chase boat...

          https://youtu.be/nZ2igM834DU

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          • #6
            Retrieval fishing pole! I tried the tennis ball and found it was cumbersome and distance wasn't great. I went home and said there's a better way. I found 4 half ounce sinkers and used mono line thru all 4 sinkers a few time for strength. Next laid them in a row and ta is it ped with duct tape a few times. This made them straight as possible. Reason I laid straight is I could cast further and more accurate. Now it worked great as the in line set of sinkers seemed easier to cast. Reason for posting is i could cast over head easier than with the tennis ball. I endured no damage as I cast further. BTW, I made few of these in case the line snapped and could tie a new one in minutes. Hope this helps just one person, it will make my day!

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            • #7
              Originally posted by OV10 View Post
              I was fully expecting to see a gator pounce on ya there at Swamp Elsinore
              The area I was swamping around in used to be above water. The bottom was pretty sandy overall. I hope to never have to go in there again though.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Norwest View Post
                Retrieval fishing pole! I tried the tennis ball and found it was cumbersome and distance wasn't great. I went home and said there's a better way. I found 4 half ounce sinkers and used mono line thru all 4 sinkers a few time for strength. Next laid them in a row and ta is it ped with duct tape a few times. This made them straight as possible. Reason I laid straight is I could cast further and more accurate. Now it worked great as the in line set of sinkers seemed easier to cast. Reason for posting is i could cast over head easier than with the tennis ball. I endured no damage as I cast further. BTW, I made few of these in case the line snapped and could tie a new one in minutes. Hope this helps just one person, it will make my day!
                Great idea! Here's my latest investment into RC boat retrieval. Meet the SS Recovery! Or the SS Pandemic I haven't settled on her name just yet. I figure with this on the shore with the boogie board in it, fishing pole, life jacket, and paddles ready to go I can boat with more piece of mind. I will also be rowing out with a seaplane in tow to fly out there on calm morning. $80 of fun!


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                • #9
                  Or if you're lucky enough to talk a swimmer into retrieving your boat for you. (Terrible technique but beggars can't be choosers)

                  My YouTube RC videos:
                  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCDZ..._bdGEJBmtV7YUw

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Aros View Post
                    Or if you're lucky enough to talk a swimmer into retrieving your boat for you. (Terrible technique but beggars can't be choosers)
                    That's pretty awesome! However you have to get it back to shore I say. Here's a long clip (skip around) of my most recent boat recovery saga. I found it a few days later after swimming the swamp searching for it. Wet suit and a boogie board helped a lot. I had shoes on too so I could trudge the swamp area. I got a workout in that's for sure.

                    youtu.be/I5KsCF4PKgc

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                    • #11
                      Yikes, work out indeed!
                      My YouTube RC videos:
                      https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCDZ..._bdGEJBmtV7YUw

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                      • #12
                        flipped my SV27 at the park last spring, blowing down wind and out of range of the tennis ball. Out of options stripped to my skivvies and swam for it. Lucky it was off season and the park was empty sometimes you do what you have to do .
                        rc flyin addict

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                        • #13
                          I will go to great extents, including swimming, to get my boat back but no toy boat is worth your life. I've swam for my boat a few times now and it's dangerous no matter what. If you're not a seasoned swimmer (I am not) you tire quickly. If you can have a spotter on shore ready to go in too that would be ideal assuming he can swim. Dragging back a swamped 12lb boat covered with pointy things on the back and wants to drown you is not easy either. Know when to make the safe move and approach the recovery a different way. On my last recovery I nearly swam for it before it got out further. The wind direction, strength, the current, and water temp kept me on shore. By the time I ran up to get the boogie board and got back to the shore it was long blown out of a safe swimming distance. Every year a few model boaters die trying to retrieve their boat. This story from Lake Havasu from last year is quite sad:

                          https://www.abc15.com/news/region-no...-officials-say

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                          • #14
                            Good advice. I would never attempt to swim out to retrieve a boat...I'm not a good swimmer. I would have a raft or something at the ready.
                            My YouTube RC videos:
                            https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCDZ..._bdGEJBmtV7YUw

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                            • #15
                              Good advise, be sure you are up to the task.
                              12 years on a swim team, life guard, so for me my biggest fear was getting caught without a proper suit . If I start boating regularly a retrieval boat (rc version or kyak) would be a must, lots of cool rc versions out there.
                              rc flyin addict

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                              • #16
                                I've swam to retrieve a boat once before. It was a good 150 yards to get it give or take. (Luckly I was in really good shape, and knew how to keep from going under after years of waterskiing using floating techniques to conserve energy). Then I got an inflatable boat. My longest retrieval was over a mile out with a canoe. In dense fog in the dead of night. How we found it is beyond me. Mostly knowing the currents in that lake helped plus I believe and alittle point of the way from above I'm sure more than anything else. This was a large lake, definitely made things interesting.

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