Launch Your Boat, Not Your Car
Accidents are far more likely to happen to your boat while it is
being trailered on the highway than when it is being used on the
water. It would be disastrous to spend a lot of money for a boat
only to lose it in a highway accident by a broken-down trailer.
Your boat represents not only a considerable investment, but also
a considerable payload. If you buy a used boat, be absolutely certain
that its trailer can handle it. If there is any doubt in your mind,
correct the problem before you try hauling the boat. If that is
not possible, junk the trailer or trade it in for a new one.
Whether it is new or used, your trailer must be registered. Trailer
laws covering such things as brakes, lights, safety-chains, and
licenses; all will vary from state to state. A trailer dealer can
help or contact your state DMV for full information.
Before taking it out on the highway, examine the trailer from one
end to the other. You don't need an expert to tell you where the
stress points are. Does the carpeting over the bolster boards hide
rotten wood? How bad is the rust on the trailer? What condition
are the leaf springs and axle in? Are the tires worn out? Are the
wheels equipped with Bearing Buddies? Bearing Buddies are easily
greased wheel bearings that can stand being submerged. The standard
type bearings might be dry or on the verge of burning out. As a
final precaution before leaving for the highway, check to make sure
that your trailer lights and signals are working properly.
Steering a vehicle pulling a trailer should not be problem. Be
careful not to make your turns too tight. You could hit something
or your trailer might run something down. Allow yourself more time
to warn other motorists when turning, passing, or stopping. Remember
you are pulling a heavy load and cannot stop as quickly as usual.
Backing up with your trailer takes a little practice. You will
find your trailer turns in a direction opposite to that of your
steering wheel. Have a partner direct you.
When you reach the boat ramp pull to one side and let your trailer
bearings cool because -?. While you are waiting put the drain plug
in your boat. Unplug the trailer lights they may short out if immersed
in water. Check your mooring lines to be sure they are attached.
If you launch without them, the boat may leave without you.
When launching donít let anyone stay in the boat. Make certain
that everyone is out of the way before you back down the ramp. The
idea is to launch your boat, not your car if possible stay in your
vehicle with your foot brake applied. The foot pedal (unlike the
parking brake) brakes all four wheels. If you must leave your car,
put it in park, set the parking brake, and turn off the engine.
If you have a manual transmission put it in gear, and set the parking
brake. After you get out of the car, put chocks under the wheels.
Donít rush your launch, but donít dawdle. Impatience can flare up
when it is perceived you are in the way of someoneís fun.
Donít start your boatís engine until it is in the water and you
have given your boat a "sniff test" to be sure no gasoline
fumes are present. Most boat engines are cooled by water pumped
by neoprene impellers. You can damage the engine if you operate
it out of the water.
Off you go have fun. When you return we will talk about retrieving
Youíre back and the engine is running make sure no one is in the
water near the propeller!
Retrieving your boat
If you use a portable fuel tank, disconnect the gas line from the
tank before you trailer your boat. If you have a permanently installed
tank, close the fuel supply valve before trailering. If the boat
will not be used for more than a couple of weeks, run the engine
until you use up its gas. If you leave gas in the carburetor for
an extended time, gum will form and the engine may not start the
next time you want t use it.
Back the trawler slowly down the ramp and into the water to its
usual depth, carefully watching the water level against the tires.
Guide the boat to trailer with mooring lines. Center the boat on
the trailer, attach the winch cable, and winch the boat up onto
the trailer. Once the boat is on the trailer, drive slowly up the
ramp. Park to the side and remove the drain plug, then secure the
boat for the trip home. Donít forget to balance the load, secure
equipment, tie down the stern, and attach a line from the boatís
towing eye to the trailer tongue.