How to Tow a Boat Trailer

Boat -towing

Although you don’t need a special licence to tow boats trailers, you do have to make sure you have mastered some additional skills. Before you go anywhere near a public road to tow your boat trailer for the first time, familiarise yourself with some elementary rules.

You are now in control of an articulated vehicle and when you turn into a corner, you need to do so a little later to allow for the extra length and the fact that the boat trailer’s wheels will ‘cut in’ tighter. Most people find reversing with a boat trailer counter-intuitive, so practise this somewhere safe such as a deserted supermarket carpark.

When towing boats (or anything else) you need to allow far more distance for both overtaking and braking.

In some respects, towing boats trailer can be more difficult than taking a loaded box trailer to the local trip. You are likely to be driving further. And you have less control over the distribution of the weight, simply because of the design of the boat. The centre of gravity can be quite high, especially in the case of single-keel boats equipped with heavy outboard motors. All the basic rules of preliminary towing checks naturally apply to towing boats trailers. The coupling of the boat trailer to the tow vehicle must be absolutely secure and locked in place. Make sure the safety chain is connected and that there is sufficient slack. Check all lights. Carry a good quality tyre pressure gauge. Boat trailer tyres are often neglected but pressures are important for safe towing. Make absolutely sure that the vessel is securely attached to the boat trailer; divorce is not an option until you reach the ramp!

As a rule of thumb you should tow with about 60 per cent of the weight ahead of the centre line of the trailer, i.e. the centre axle or the midway point between the two axles. Importantly, position the boat on the baot trailer, so the weight is a little more towards the front than the rear. The boat trailer should ride level or very slightly nose-down, but never tail-down because this invites sway which can become dangerous quickly. Again, this rule of thumb applies whether you are towing boats or anything else.

Should the boat trailer begin to sway, do not brake. Rather, maintain speed or accelerate very slightly. Avoid any kind of sudden inputs either at the rim of the steering wheel or on the pedals.

Water and wheel bearings are not happy companions so regular greasing is essential. Salt water encourages rust so you should always wash the boat trailer and boat after use.

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