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Boating Basics

Trailering Your Vessel Safely


Before leaving home:

  • Secure all gear in the vessel and arrange it so that the weight is evenly distributed in the vessel.
  • Properly secure the vessel with several tie-down straps and/or safety lines to prevent it from shifting.
  • Tilt and secure the engine to increase clearance.
  • Crisscross the safety chains when attaching them to the towing vehicle.
  • Make sure the trailer brakes and lights are working.

On the road:

  • Think farther ahead on the road than usual: anticipate changes in traffic flow in advance; make wider turns at corners and curves; allow extra time and distance for stopping and for passing other vehicles; and remember the length added by your trailer.
  • Be aware that there may be lower speed limits for vehicles with trailers.
  • After 5 to 10 miles of travel at highway speed, stop for a walk-around inspection of the vehicle and trailer. Check tires, lights, coupler, etc.; and feel the trailer hubs. Excessively hot hubs may indicate a problem. On extended trips, make periodic stops to do a walk-around inspection.

Launching your vessel from a trailer:

  • Prepare your vessel well away from the boat ramp.
  • Back the vessel into the water until the lower unit of the engine can be submerged while on the trailer.
  • Once the engine is warmed up, back the trailer further until the vessel floats. Then back slowly off the trailer.

Retrieving your vessel:

  • Back the trailer into the water so that approximately two-thirds of the rollers or bunks are submerged.
  • Move the vessel onto the trailer far enough to attach the winch line to the bow eye of the vessel. Finish pulling it onto the trailer by cranking the winch.
  • Tow the vessel off the ramp out of the way of others.
  • While at the ramp area, remove all weeds from the vessel, remove the drain plug, and drain live wells.