Southern Boating

Trailering Tips

Use these trailering tips and tow your boat to gain access to new and exciting waterways.

Towing a trailerable vessel is daunting to some boating enthusiasts and a snap for others, but those experienced in trailering recognize the many benefits. Hitting the road with a boat in tow unlocks access to rivers, lakes, bays, and oceans previously considered unreachable. Moreover, it’s easier to load and repair your boat when on a trailer and less expensive to re-fuel at a local gas station. (Take care to pump only marine-suitable fuel.) Then after launching the vessel at the marina ramp and into the water, it’s a quick getaway from the crowd. These trailering tips and resources will help to make your trailering experience easier and safer.

Prep It

Regarding durability, boat trailers are built to take a serious amount of punishment, not only from the boat and open road but also from constant submersion into the water. But trailer maintenance is still crucial, and while freshwater is relatively benign, saltwater and brackish water is brutally corrosive. Even a tiny amount of residual saltwater could cause damage to internal parts when the trailer sits idle throughout the offseason.

“First and foremost, review your owner’s manual for tips and information especially on maintenance for the trailer and how to use it safely,” says EZ Loader Custom Boat Trailers vice president and general manager, Gary Potter. “Second, never tow your boat until you review the NMMA and/or NATM decal showing the parts of the trailer you must check before towing. Do not tow the trailer if there is a problem.”

Check it

The initial checklist includes monitoring items such as tire air pressure, ensuring the latch is in place on the trailer ball and secured to the actuator before moving, and making sure the trailer wheels’ lug nuts are secured to manufacturer specifications.

Trailer manufacturers such as EZ Loader use modern technology to make trailering boats safer. “Today, there are many new devices for monitoring air pressure and other functions on the trailers,” says Potter. “Actuators are being made with safety in mind with quick-connect attachments. There are certainly more advances in cosmetics than ever before with the use of larger tires in combination with new and exciting-styled aluminum wheels plus all kinds of lighting including LED, Glow and other technologies.”

Online Towing Guide publisher Brett Becker says becoming proficient at towing takes practice and training but not while you’re at a crowded launch ramp on the weekend when the pressure is really on. “You get good at trailering the same way you get to Carnegie Hall: practice, practice, practice,” Becker says. “Focus on improving your skills each time you go boating, and pretty soon nothing about trailering will faze you.” Practice when the trailer is both empty and loaded as the change in weight can affect how the trailer responds.

It’s also important to regularly review the towing rules and regulations because they are constantly changing. Each state’s Department of Motor Vehicles website offers the most current regulations, and the Online Towing Guide provides a helpful chart to determine your state’s fundamental trailering laws.

Keep your distance

When on the road, the most important function is stopping safely and under control, which means you should allow for plenty of space between you and the vehicles ahead of you. The time and distance it takes to brake increases dramatically when trailering, so doubling or even tripling the amount of space that you would normally allot between your car and the next is the safest option until you get a sense of your rig’s behavior.

Mirrors also play a vital role, so consider installing larger side mirrors and convex blind-spot mirrors for supplementary safety precautions. Also, don’t be hesitant to enlist your passengers for help on the road and while maneuvering at the launch ramp.