Owning a boat means you’re free to get out on the open water any time you like. Having that access to the water whenever you want it is probably why you bought a boat in the first place, but there’s probably one little hitch that cramps your style a bit when you get the urge to go boating, and that’s the process of getting your boat from your house to the launch. Towing a boat on a trailer can be a hassle, but with knowledge and practice you can make it easy enough to deal with. Don’t let the stress of wrangling with your trailer keep you from making the most out of the boat you always wanted to own. Here’s some tips you can use to make your next boat trip a little easier on you and your car.
Make Sure Your Vehicle Can Handle It
First of all, you’ve got to have a car with the capacity to tow a boat on a trailer, and that usually means a SUV or truck. If your current set of wheels isn’t quite up to the job, you might want to look into buying a vehicle that has the strength to pull a boat trailer.
Secure Everything Properly
Make a checklist of all the steps to securing your boat, trailer, and vehicle together properly. Remember to insert the safety pin, cross the runaway chains, connect the brakes and lights, put the boat motor in the upright position for towing. When you’re first learning how to use your trailer, write all the steps down!
Give Yourself Lots of Room to Stop
You’re pulling thousands of pounds of extra weight behind you when you’re towing a boat trailer, so don’t forget that everything you’re used to when it comes to braking and stopping is completely different now. Give yourself much more room and time to stop than you would without the trailer, and practice pumping the brakes gradually to bring yourself to a stop—sudden braking can cause you to jackknife.
Take Turns Wide and Slow
Turning is going to feel very different, too. The trailer will have a tighter turning radius than your car, so know that just because your car can make a tight turn doesn’t mean the boat and trailer will.
Learn How to Back Up
Backing up a trailer can be daunting, but how else are you going to get onto the boat launch? Put your hand on the bottom of the steering wheel, look behind you, and move your steering hand in the direction you want the trailer to go. It can take some practice to get comfortable with, but you’ll be able to get used to it.
Maintain Your Trailer
Don’t forget to check the wheels, lug nuts, and other components of your trailer regularly. It may not be quite as finely engineered as your car, but it’s the last thing you want to fail when you’re on the road with a boat behind you.
The more you drive your boat around, the better you’ll get at it, so get that trailer hitched up and head on out to your favorite body of water!