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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 your boat.

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.

Take care.


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Admiralty Marine Services, LLC

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