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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. If transporting a canoe or kayak, make sure it is fastened securely to your vehicle.
  • 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.
Make sure your trailer's electrical system is functioning properly.

On the road:

  • Think farther ahead on the road than usual. Remember the length added by your trailer.
  • Be aware that there may be lower speed limits for vehicles with trailers.

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.