When you hitch the boat to your tow vehicle and head to the water, the last thing you want is for your boat to end up on the side of the road or worse still, ploughed into someone else’s car.
When boat towing, remember your boat and trailer carry considerable weight and can potentially jackknife at the worst time – probably when you’re trying to cope with a traffic incident, such as someone suddenly pulling out in front of you.
- Drive more conservatively than you normally would. There are no specific speed limits for boat trailers; it just makes sense to drive more slowly because the weight you’re hauling means you’ll take longer to stop.
- Keep plenty of distance between your vehicle and those ahead of you.
- Avoid sudden evasive swerving or braking.
- Ease around corners gently.
- Avoid overtaking.
- When coming up to traffic lights, roundabouts, pedestrian crossings and school zones plan to stop – don’t floor the accelerator to get through before it turns red.
Secure your load
The way you pack and secure your boat trailer will affect the way it handles on the road.
- Pack the boat carefully, spreading the load evenly with heaviest items over the axle/s in the centre. Keep the contents secure so they don’t move around and affect the vehicle’s handling and safety.
- Check and tighten all tie-downs – front, rear and side.
- Check that the coupling and safety chains are secure.
- Test the trailer’s lights to ensure they’re all working.
Have the right equipment
If you’re just taking the tinny to the river, a small single–axle boat trailer is sufficient. But to move a larger vessel it’s advisable to investigate what is required, such as a higher capacity tow bar, brakes or heavy-duty suspension.
For extra safety it’s also a good idea to install extended side-view mirrors so you can see around any blind spots created by the boat or trailer.
Keep an eye on your trailer’s tyres and change them as soon as the tread starts to wear. Investing in good quality tyres will repay you in increased traction and safety on the road.
On road checks
On a long journey, pull over every now & then to check your boat towing rig.
- Make sure the boat is still securely in place and tighten straps where necessary.
- Feel the wheel hubs, as overheating could be an indication of excessive friction in the wheel bearings and it’s better to catch it before the wheel falls off.
Towing your boat to water should be part of the pleasure, not a cause for pain. To ensure you arrive at your destination intact, be prepared, think ahead at all times when you’re driving and give yourself plenty of room to stop if necessary.
Feeling a little wobbly? Take a look at these innovations designed to keep your boat trailer stable on the road.