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I have seen emergency breakaway cables and chains on some boat trailers (as opposed to safety chains). What are your thoughts about these and is there any guideline for how long they should be or circumstances under which they should be carried? D. Kissenly, Ellsworth, MN
Answered on: 6/2005
GEORGE: Breakaway and safety chains are required in your state (CT, DE, GA, IO, KN, ME, MI, NC, NH, NM and OR require only safety chains). Personally, I think breakaway chains are useless because with both, you are hooking to the same hitch. But that's just my opinion. Breakaway chains come in varying lengths and the only guideline I can offer is to make sure it doesn't touch the ground. MIKE: I am not sure what you are referring to when you mention breakaway cables or chains differing from safety chains. Chains/cables that are between the trailer tongue and the tow vehicle are safety chains/cables. Chains or cables should be long enough to support the trailer tongue should it disconnect from the vehicle. You don't want them so long that they drag on the ground (which would not support the trailer tongue), nor do you want them too short so that they bind when you are turning. I am seeing more boaters using coiled cables instead of chains as the coils keep them taught and out of the way. There is also a new retractable coil product on the market by Tie Down Engineering that gives a neat appearance and stows the cables in a housing, out of the way, when not in use.
The Trailer Boat Expert: Mike and George