Boat trailering suggestions

Larry has some tips to keep your boat trailer, and boat, moving

I frequently see trailered boats with the outboard in the “down” position. This increases the chances of  damage to the lower unit or broken prop blades from rocks thrown up by the truck or the trailer tires. If you must use the “down” position, a canvas bag over the exposed lower unit will offer some protection. A block of wood in the hinge will reinforce the “up” position and prevent the motor from moving and straining the transom. Many years ago, I watched a boater at the Aishihik boat launch trying to put his boat in the water with the lower unit completely gone below the cavitation plate. The driver had towed from Whitehorse in the “down” position.

Mud flaps (even temporary) on the vehicle rear and trailer fenders are easily installed. They minimize gravel damage and a mud coating on the hitch area, trailer and boat.

Drive far enough forward to straighten out the trailer before any maneuvering in reverse. A bit of practice will make you an ace at the ramp.

Rails on either side of the trailer really help get the boat on straight, especially in wind, waves and current. If it is a light boat, these can be made of braced wood. If the budget allows, steel welded to the trailer frame is stronger.

Any boat can be easily damaged on the ramp or nearby rocks. Where possible, have a competent passenger bring the truck and trailer down the ramp while you hold the boat offshore. Then just drive straight on. Hip waders are a good idea for all involved in the boat retrieval and chest waders are even better when conditions are poor.

A stern rope (with a carabiner) or two will help keep the boat straight in an unpowered retrieval. They are also handy to straighten the boat on the trailer. Just back up until the boat floats and pull on the appropriate stern line.

Lockable plastic tote boxes can be carried in and locked to the boat containing PFDs, ropes, fire-lighting and first aid. The gear can be emptied from the boxes before launch and boxes stored in the vehicle. 

Unless there is a dock at the ramp, put all your gear in the boat before reaching the ramp. Launch without delay and move off the ramp.

It is a good habit to insist on putting in your own drain-plug and any hitch locks, pins, safety chains and light plugs. This is the only way you can be sure they are all connected properly avoiding sunken boats, separated trailers or traffic tickets.

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