May 2011

Trouble-free trailering

Prepare your trailer for a smooth tow

Whether you plan to trailer your boat to a nearby lake or faraway locale, thorough preparation will ensure a smooth journey for you and your boat.

  • Check your trailer tires for surface defects and inflate to the maximum amount stated on the tires.
  • Make sure the trailer wheel bearings are water-free and properly greased.
  • Lubricate the trailer hitch and ball, and grease the ball.
  • Test the trailer lights and connectors.
  • Check that boat tie-downs are in place and holding properly.
  • Make sure all boat systems are operational.
  • Ensure that safety chains are strong enough to support the trailer’s tongue weight. When hooking the chains to the hitch, consider using chain hooks with a safety latch rather than an S-hook.
  • Make sure the nuts and bolts on the trailer, supports, vehicle hitch, and ball hitch are in place and tight. Over time, the sun’s rays will deteriorate locking nuts’ nylon inserts and anything bolted or welded can fall off or fail.
  • If you trailer only once or twice a year, make a checklist so you won’t overlook anything, and review your handling and backing skills in an empty parking lot.
  • If you’re making a long trip, plan it just as you would a long cruise. For example, the length and size of your vehicle and trailer may dictate your stops for fuel, food, and lodging as well as travel time and distance.
  • Adjust the tow vehicle’s mirrors so you can see the trailer tires as well as other traffic.
  • After a few miles, stop and check the wheel bearings for overheating. Check the brakes by feeling the heat they create, but use caution as hot brakes can burn you.
  • Check the tires, hitch and tie-downs every time you stop, especially when making a long trip.

–Jerry Le Cocq

Keep your feet feeling and looking cool with flip flops from the USPS Ship's Store.

Mastering Marlinespike

Angler’s loop

Also called the perfection knot, the angler’s loop forms a strong, nonslip, fixed loop at any position along most types of line, including bungee and shock cord.


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