Hitching a trailer and boat to your car and cruising down to the coast might sound like a simple exercise, but as many a boater has learnt the hard way, there is quite a bit that can go wrong if you’re not paying careful attention. However, with a little preparation and care you increase your chances of a painless towing experience and more time to spend on the water. Take a look at our tips to avoid tears.
The easiest way to remember to perform all the necessary checks is to compose a simple list. You can do this by keeping a notepad in your cubbyhole or simply do the checklist on your smartphone’s ‘notes’ function and tick them off before you head down to the river, dam or coast.
First and foremost, fill up your towing vehicle before you hitch the trailer as this is much easier than trying to manoeuvre the whole rig through the petrol port. While you’re at it, make sure to fill up with water and oil and check the tyre pressure.
Before you attach the trailer, make certain that your vehicle’s tow hitch is able to handle the weight of the load you plan on towing! Also verify that the ball on your car’s tow hitch matches the coupler on your trailer.
Once hitched, connect the safety chains and check the weight distribution of your load. For optimal handling it’s important to ensure that the boat is properly loaded and well balanced and that the centre of gravity is low. It is recommended that approximately 60% of the boat be placed on the front half of the trailer and 40% on the rear.
The trailer should then be secured with ratchet straps at bow and stern, while the bow eye is fixed to the trailer’s winch.
Have someone stand behind the rig to check that the trailer’s brake, running and indicator lights all work. Then walk around and ensure the trailer’s wheel nuts are tight and secure.
Reversing with a trailer, particularly with a 26 ft boat on it, can become tricky if you don’t know what you’re doing. But since you’ve done your towing licence you should have it down pat. If you haven’t done your licence, be sure to do so before you strap on that trailer! An easy tip to remember for reversing with a trailer is to keep your hands on the bottom of the steering wheel and simply move your hands in the direction in which you’d like to turn – if you’re looking to turn left, just move your hands in the direction of the passenger side. Use your mirrors and keep watching both sides of the trailer while you make very slight steering inputs. On a side note – parking with a trailer should always be done on a level plane but if this isn’t possible, place chocks behind the wheels!