Revised by BoatUS editors in June 2012
Tie downs serve many functions. Here are some examples.
- They secure your boat to the trailer at the bow and either gunwale or transom, preferably both. .
- They secure your trailer to your towing vehicle by chain or cable hooked into the vehicle from the frame.
- They secure gear inside your boat to prevent shifting while underway.
After your boat is resting comfortably on the trailer, make sure it's not only secured at the stern (by gunwale or transom straps), but also at the winch. Do not rely on winch gears or the winch strap or electrical winch brakes; always use bow chain and hook as an added safety measure. 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.
The correct gunwale or transom tie down length is related to boat width and transom height. Ratchet or cam style straps of adequate size for your boat can secure your boat on the trailer very securely and prevent boats from bouncing and suffering chafe damage.
Tie downs must not cross sharp edges-any force will cut the strap. Unsecured gear inside the boat can severely damage fiberglass. Sudden shifting of heavy gear could tear up your boat's interior.
Winch straps, rope, or cable are not tie-down devices-their sole purpose is to get your boat up on the trailer.
It’s a very good idea to stop and look over your rig shortly after you reach speed and also to stop and check periodically to be sure that shifting or other causes haven’t compromised your rig’s security.