Going To Great Lengths, Literally

By Chris Landers

Here's to the road warriors, as they head out with their boats behind them.

Photo of towing an Olson 30Jean Andre on his cross-country odyssey with an Olson 30.

Jean Andre, a BoatUS member in St. Louis, Missouri, after much searching found the boat of his dreams — a used Olson 30. But there was a snag; it was 1,800 miles away, in San Francisco. Undeterred, Jean jumped in his Chevy Silverado and drove across half the country. His alternator went out in Utah, and his water pump soon afterward. Jean replaced them both in Salt Lake City, then drove through the night, napping at rest stops, to make his 9 a.m. appointment with the seller.

The trip back was a breeze, at least until his oil pressure dropped and the engine started knocking a few hundred miles from home. He nursed it along as far as he could, then threw in the towel and called BoatUS TRAILER ASSIST, who arranged a tow for the last 100 miles. After 110 hours on the road, Jean says, he slept like a baby rock. He still thinks it was worth it and he's very happy with the boat.

When I read Jean's letter, I took it as an excellent omen as I was in the throes of deciding to go, or not to go, on my own trailering odyssey — a mere 175 miles north to New Jersey, from my home in Baltimore to perhaps buy and drag home a vintage fiberglass runabout. Inspired by Jean's trip, I set out the next weekend to check out a little runabout that needed some work but hopefully would polish up into a classic weekender for my wife Andrea and me to tool around the Chesapeake Bay.

So it was. I spent a winter weekend on I-95, with one stop in a questionable motel, dragging home my new old 1964 MFG Westfield. TRAILER ASSIST didn't get called — luckily, as I would never have heard the end of it amongst my coworkers. Though I did get helpful advice before leaving from one of our Trailering Guys, Ted Sensenbrenner.

Photo of Chris Landers 1964 MFG WestfieldAssociate editor Chris Landers' new old prized possession.

And now she's mine. Yeah, she needs a little work, but what boat doesn't?

All of which is to say — around here, we get it. We know the lengths people will go to go boating, whether it's backing down the ramp at the end of the block, or driving through the night and sleeping by the side of the road. Nobody buys a boat for the trailer, but for lots of us, getting on the road is the only way to the water, and that's what it's all about, no matter what kind of boat we have — sail or power, new or old. That's why our editors have put together this guide to trailering, and loaded it with tips and DIY projects — to make the road part easier, so you can spend less time there and more time on the water. 

— Published: Spring 2014


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