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Boat trailering tips

Boat on trailer being towed by pickup truck traveling on the road behind a semi

A day spent boating is the kind of thing you daydream about—many of us crave time on the water, rocking with the waves and basking in the sun. But before getting to smooth sailing, you need to try your hand at the art of boat trailering.

If you're new to hauling a boat, these tips will help you build confidence and get comfortable with towing a boat from point A to point B. If you're already an experienced boat-trailering captain, this will serve as a helpful refresher course before your next outing.

Without further ado, here are eight tips for a trouble-free trip to the boat ramp!

  1. Experience leads to confidence.

    Practice so you can get comfortable with trailering. Find a large, open space—like an empty parking lot—and put down some orange cones or life jackets. Then spend time learning to back up, make turns and avoid obstacles.

  2. Backing up takes extra practice.

    Most people find driving in reverse while towing a boat to be the toughest, so work on honing this skill. Remember that backing up in a straight line is almost impossible. Instead, focus on moving in the right direction with slow, slight turns.

  3. Level-up your mirrors.

    Big, extended side-view mirrors are definitely a great idea for trailering, especially when you tow on busy roads. Attachable side-view mirrors are available for purchase when you need to increase visibility.

  4. Swing wide when tackling turns.

    To ensure you don’t hit curbs or other vehicles with your boat, take turns extra-wide. If you can, try to prepare for turns by staying in the outside lane to give yourself more room.

  5. Keep it roomy with stopping distance.

    Extra distance between your vehicle and those ahead of you is crucial. You don't want to slam on the breaks with a boat in tow—that could cause jackknifing. So slow down and be alert… patience you must have, my young Padawan.

  6. Be conscience of large vehicles.

    If semi-trucks and other big vehicles pass you, briefly lift your foot off the accelerator. This little trick will help reduce buffeting by the truck's wind and keep your rig from swaying. If you notice swaying, take your foot off the gas to minimize it.

  7. If swaying—stop, inspect and adjust.

    Taking your foot off the gas will minimize swaying, but if it seems to be a constant problem, get out and examine your rig. Try adjusting the trailer's tongue weight—it should be between 10 and 15 percent of the rig's overall weight.

  8. Conduct a post-arrival check-up.

    When you reach your destination, feel your trailer's wheel hubs. They should be cool or slightly warm. If they're hot, there may be problems with your bearings; get them serviced as soon as possible!

Ready for the next step? Read our blog about boat launching so you know what to do when you reach the ramp!



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