Take Care Of Your Trailer

Published: Fall 2013

And it will take care of your boat.


Before we head out onto the highway to adventure, we perform a walk-around of our trailered boat. We look to make sure straps are secure; antenna is placed down; windows and hatches are closed; drain plug is removed; and the hitch is secure. We also do a trailer-light test where one of us stands at the rear of the rig (within view of the driver) and verifies with hand signals that the trailer brake, running, and turn signals all function properly.


Level Thinking

Make long hauls with an empty boat fuel tank, and fill up near the ramp. This significantly reduces your load; a boat with a 100-gallon fuel tank, for example, will have an additional 600 pounds of towing weight when filled.


Practice First

Practice backing up your trailer in an empty parking lot to build confidence. Use lined spaces or traffic cones to simulate backing down a boat ramp.


Fit Kit

Every smart trailer boater carries a roadside emergency kit. Make sure yours has all the necessities — spare bearings, tools, a grease gun, light bulbs, and light plugs.


Carrying Capacity

Photo of a trailer towing a large oversize boat

Make sure your trailer is rated about 10-15 percent OVER the total boat weight, including engines. Don't be cheap; be safe. A broken axle is serious, possibly deadly. My boat is listed at 7,600 pounds. I took her to the truck highway weigh station — surprise! — she was 11,200 pounds including trailer and full fuel tanks, NOT including ice and gear. The trailer I bought had a capacity of 9,600 pounds, three axles, and I didn't skimp on tires. Estimate another 500 to 700 pounds for all your gear, ice chests, and so on. Splurge on tow capacity.


Photo of a taut safety strap mounted from a boat's bow straight down to the trailer

Secure Straps

The less a boat moves on a trailer, the better. Less stress on the trailer equals safer travel.

A taut safety strap mounted from a boat's bow straight down to the trailer keeps the bow in check, while side-to-side stern straps do the same for the transom.End of story marker



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