The Complete Guide to Trailering Your Boat

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Once you have the boat in far enough, so that its water intake ports are submerged and it can achieve buoyancy, stop the automobile. Put it in gear or park, set the parking brake, then turn it off. Now hook a bow line to the front of the boat and to the trailer winch or a winch on the vehicle. For solo boat ramp launching , you need to do a bit of extra prep and practice.

Before you worry about getting the boat on or even near your trailer, first get your trailer postponed properly. Just make sure the back of the trailer is well submerged and the front of the trailer, including the winch, is well out of the water. And never back down a ramp far enough that the tow vehicle is at all in the water. Once you have it down, feel free to cruise onto the trailer and use the winch just for the last few feet.

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Your boat trailer will effectively turn inside of your turn, so you have to make your turns wider than will feel natural. As a general rule of thumb, when driving at speed, just give yourself a bit of extra room in turns but generally drive naturally. At slow speeds, like turning 90 degrees at an intersection, give yourself a lot of extra space. And vice versa. Yep, things are reversed. Just remember this: The main error people make when driving a trailer in reverse is to steer too far to one side or the other. You have to have your boat properly positioned on the trailer in order to operate it safely.

These include the brake lights, turn signals and sometimes the reverse lights as well. Take the time to connect these lights every time you tow your boat. The lights are essential. Aside from them, there are other accessories you might need to consider adding to your trailer as well, including mirrors, wheel docks, safety chains and straps or even bunk glides. Even a boat trailer made from stainless steel or anodized aluminum will rust and corrode eventually unless property cared for.

Then let the trailer air dry or take the time to wipe it down. And for those long periods of inactivity, especially in a climate with cold winters that see precipitation, cover your trailer with a heavy-duty tarp check price on Amazon and protect it from the elements whenever you can. We're using cookies to improve your experience. Make sure your winch line doesn't rub up against anything while loading and unloading the boat. Check the line frequently for wear or fraying.

Even a slight amount of wear can significantly reduce the weight carrying ability of the strap. Note: Winches are designed for one thing: loading and unloading your boat. They are NOT designed to hold your boat on the trailer when you are going down the road. Make sure you use other methods of securing your boat to the trailer! Driving hazards that are normally only an annoyance to an automobile - potholes, uneven pavement, sharp curves, etc. Five to 10 percent of the total weight of the boat, motor, trailer, and gear should be on the trailer ball when the coupler is parallel to the ground.

Too much weight on the ball and the car will be difficult to steer and good luck retrieving your boat at a steep launch ramp, especially if your car has front-wheel drive.

2015 Guide To Trailering

Too little weight on the ball and the trailer is prone to fishtailing - excessive swaying from side to side. Fishtailing can also occur when tires are too soft or the trailer and the boat are too heavy for the car. If all else fails, you can remedy the problem by moving the trailer's axle - a much larger job that usually requires a pro. Many boats spend the better part of their lives atop a trailer. Poly rollers, incidentally, last considerably longer than their rubber counterparts, which deteriorate in sunlight.

The Trailer

Anything loose on the deck or in the cockpit, including things like Bimini tops, will probably be blown away. Either stow them below or make sure they are secured. Better yet, wrap the boat in a snug-fitting cover, which protects the upholstery from sunlight and road grit, as well as reduces fuel consumption. A heavy strap should always be used to anchor the boat's stern to the trailer.

If a strap isn't used, the boat will bounce against or off the trailer. Don't rely solely on the winch cable to tie down the bow. Use a separate line from the bow eye down to the trailer. When you're traveling, check the straps and the bow eye itself whenever you stop. Always use a safety chain, criss-crossed between the car and the trailer coupling.

Should the hitch fail, heaven forbid, the chain will keep the trailer from flying off the road.

Crossing the chain prevents the trailer coupler from separating completely from the car. Leave enough slack in the chain to allow for proper turning, but not so much that it drags. The first thing you should remember when towing a trailer is that you are towing a trailer. That may sound obvious, but when the car is humming merrily along it can be easy to forget the trailer is back there.

Slow down! Reducing speed gives you more time to react and reduces the strain on the car and trailer. The additional weight of a trailer dramatically affects braking, so leave considerably more distance than you normally would between your car and the car in front of you. Rely on lower gears rather than brakes to reduce speed when driving downhill. Some states have separate speed limits for cars pulling trailers, and you should also be alert to signs restricting trailers.

On trips, make it a habit to check the wheel hubs every time you stop for gas.


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If one hub feels hotter than the other, or if both feel abnormally hot, the bearings should be inspected before you continue the trip. The trailer held together. You have arrived at the launch ramp. If you are stepping a mast, make sure there are no overhead power lines between you and the ramp. Next, you'll have to back the trailer onto the launch ramp. To a novice, backing a trailer can be like standing on your head and reading a book upside down in a mirror.

It takes practice. Learning can be rough on the blood pressure - yours and the other people at the ramp waiting patiently or impatiently to launch their boats. To avoid disagreeable encounters with your fellow boaters, practice backing the trailer in the quiet safety of your driveway or, better yet, an empty parking lot.

Tip: push the bottom of the car's steering wheel in the direction you want the trailer to go. It must have been a long walk home. Now that you've enjoyed your time on the water, it's time to go home. When you get to the ramp, good manners are very important! If there are other boaters launching or leaving, you must wait your turn.

When your turn comes, you must be ready to move quickly. Start by getting all of your gear ready to take off the boat, and get your boat ready to go on the trailer. If you have the option, let someone off the boat to get the trailer to the water while you or the other people aboard take the gear off. Before you back down the trailer, make sure the trailer lights aren't connected to the tow vehicle. If the trailer has a tilting trailer bed, put it in the up position. Slowly back the trailer into the water, and use the boat's bow and stern lines to line the boat up with the trailer.

Attach the winch cable to the boat, and start cranking!

Towing, Trailering and Tires!

Be careful that no one is in the direct line of the winch cable--if it breaks you can be seriously injured from the whiplash. After you have the boat all the way on the trailer, attach the safety chains and pull the boat the trailer forward--make sure your engine is raised first! Once you've cleared the ramp area, make sure all lose gear is stowed, attach the tie-down straps, and reconnect the trailer lights to the tow vehicle, and hit the road.

NOTE - While many people drive the boat onto the trailer, it isn't advised.

How to safely drive your boat onto your trailer + trailer catch and release

Using the engine to assist trailering erodes the ramp bed, can lead to debris being sucked into the engine, and can cause an accident! Make sure you drain all water from the boat - the bilge, the live well, the trailer lights, etc. Trailer boats are a leading cause of the spread of invasive species. Make sure your boat is cleaned thoroughly before you launch your boat again, particularly if you go to a different body of water.

The best thing to do would be to clean your boat at the ramp. If you can't, try to make sure that when you do wash, the water doesn't go into a drain that feeds into a sewer that feeds into a different body of water.

Boat trailer - Wikipedia

Wayne thought he was being prudent bringing his boat home for the winter. His marina wasn't in an especially good neighborhood and, besides, nobody would watch after his boat the way that he would. You can guess the rest. Despite Wayne's caution, he returned from work late one afternoon to an empty driveway.

His boat had been stolen. It's no wonder that trailer boat thefts appear so frequently in the BoatU. Imagine leaving thousands of dollars stored in large crates marked MONEY on a trailer in your driveway. An exaggeration? But to a thief, especially a professional, a boat on a trailer is not much different than a stack of dollar bills. Simply parking a boat in a driveway in front of your house offers little or no security. But there are a few simple tricks, shown below, that will make a boat on a trailer a much less attractive target for thieves. Annual Reports Download previous annual reports here.