Taking the boat out
Before you go
Whether you’re planning to trailer your boat to the lake or a distant destination, consider these tips that can help make your trip trouble-free.
- Check the tires for defects on all surfaces and inflate them to the maximum amount.
- Ensure that the bearings are free of water and properly greased.
- Lubricate the hitch and ball, and grease the ball.
- Test the trailer lights and the connector thoroughly.
- Put the boat tie-downs in place and check for proper holding.
- Ensure all boat systems are operational.
- Use safety chains that are strong enough to support the trailer’s tongue weight. Instead of S-hooks, use hooks with safety latches to hook chains to the hitch.
- Check all the trailer’s nuts and bolts, the supports, the hitch on the vehicle, and the ball hitch to be sure they’re in place and tight. Locking nuts with nylon inserts will deteriorate over time. Anything bolted or welded can fall off or fail.
If you trailer only once or twice a year, make a list of items to check so you don’t overlook anything.
Make a short trial run to an empty parking lot to practice your handling and backing skills.
On the road
Mirrors When you’re on the road, the mirrors on the tow vehicle should be positioned so that you can see the trailer tires as well as other traffic.
Brakes If the trailer has brakes and they haven’t been used for some time, they will operate poorly until you actuate them frequently to remove accumulated rust in the brake drum.
Wheel bearings After traveling a few miles, stop and check the wheel bearings to be sure they’re not overheating. Check the brakes at this time to see if they are working by feeling the heat they create. Use caution; brakes can be hot to the touch.
Hitch and tie-downs When you stop to check the brakes, also check the tires, hitch and tie-downs again, and if you are making a long trip, check them every time you stop.
Before you bring the boat home at the end of the summer or for an extended stay, repeat the entire process above.