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POSTED BY: BC_BassChamp on 08/18/2010 21:29:17

A lot of new boat owners have asked me how to trailer a boat.  Granted, it is a challenging task if you’ve never done it before.  Pulling up to your trailer with a $50,000 boat can be daunting, especially on a busy boat ramp or a windy day.  So I decided to write an instructional piece to help all those new boat owners out there.  Interestingly enough, I thought I’d do some research on it just in case there was a better method than my self-taught one.  Guess what, couldn’t find a thing.  All the more reason to write this I suppose.  I do find it interesting that if you are at the boat ramp fumbling around or making a mistake, five guys will appear out of no where to impress their girlfriends (or your girlfriend) by helping you.  But, trying to find a step-by-step online is impossible. 


Well, fear not my boat-owning newbies!  Here is all you need to know.


The first thing you need to do is practice maneuvering the boat.  You can do this while out on the water playing around, skiing, or fishing.  Get comfortable with backing it up, pulling it forward, and turning circles.  It works much the same as a car, if the car was on a sheet of icy slush that constantly moves up and down.  Before you can think of trailering, you need to be competent at maneuvering.


The next thing to understand is that there will be all kinds of distractions and conditions that will add to the degree of difficulty.  It might be very windy which could cause your boat to drift to the side.  It might be very busy and you will have to wait in line to pull your boat up.  There might be a boat of hot chicks next to you acting flirtatious to anybody with a new boat.  That’s my personal favorite distraction.


The only way to get past those distractions is to think ahead.  If you know it gets windy at dusk, avoid coming in at dusk.  Most people will come in off the lake in late afternoon to dusk anyway, so you might want to come in before the rush, or you could stay out until after dark if your local regulations allow it and you have the correct equipment on your boat for night.  If I’m at a busy lake, I try to get in around 3:00 pm so I beat the rush and miss the wind.  My boat sits tall in the water, so wind is a big issue.  Boats with lower profiles typically are easier to trailer.


Have all your things in order before you get to the dock.  Put your truck keys in your pocket.  Put on your shoes so you can hop out and walk to the truck.  Stow away all your gear and put up your bimini top.


Now turn the wheel over to your hot girlfriend, wife, or significant other.  Have them pull up to the dock so that you can hop out.  Once out, they need to circle back out of the way and let others do the same.  Nothing is more frustrating than a boat full of wife and kids waiting in the way of everyone.  Your boat and driver should wait safely back out of the way until they see you backing the truck and trailer toward the water.


Once they see you backing toward the water (I should write a different how-to article on backing up with a trailer), you’re trophy wife should begin making her way back to the doc to pick you up again so you can do the final trailering.


As you back to the water, make sure to back the trailer far enough into the water to create big target area for you to “hit” with your boat.  Don’t go too far so that you can’t pull out once you’ve finished.  Keep those back truck tires out of the water.  Especially if you don’t have 4 wheel drive.  Trust me, I’ve been there.  The ramp was muddy and it took me an hour to slowly inch my way up to dry ramp.  I’ve seen others slip right into the lake truck and all!  My rule of thumb with my 2 wheel drive truck is that if the ramp is muddy, I don’t even put my boat in the water.  If you drive a ways to the lake you will want to call them ahead of time to check the conditions before you head out.


So now you have your trailer in the water.  Here’s a trick that will make it much easier.  Let out about 10 feet of the tow line (the line with the hook on it that connects to the bow of your boat).  This will allow you not to have to wedge your boat all the way up to the front of the trailer.


Now switch places on the boat at the dock with your honey.  You hop on, she hops off.  You will maneuver the boat onto the trailer while she wades out and hooks that tow line on to the bow of your boat. 


Now maneuver your boat toward the trailer.  If it is windy, this can be a bit of target practice.  Aim in the opposite direction of the wind by a few feet.  Depending on your maneuvering skills, you might need to make a couple runs at it.  Once you have the bow on the trailer, your partner then latches that tow line on and IMMEDIATELY begins reeling it in on the crank.  If you leave it out there too long on a windy day, you could damage your boat by hitting the hull on one of the trailer guides.  If your trailer doesn’t have trailer guides your boat will end up perpendicular to the trailer and those 5 guys will suddenly show up and try to help.  Remember, the more she cranks it in the more the boat will straighten out and come to rest correctly on the trailer.


Might as well crank it all the way up to where it rides normally while pulling.  Sometimes you will have backed the trailer too far in and the back of the boat will still be floating a little.  This is OK.  Just pull the trailer out until it settles, then get out and check that the boat is resting where it should be.  If it isn’t, simple back into the water and have your lovely wife push it into place while you pull back out.


Congratulations.  You’re trailered!  But… you are not done.  Always take care of your boat by wiping it down with a solution of vinegar and water.  There are places above the boat ramp to pull off to the side and do this.  This is also a good time to throw away all trash and make sure your equipment is stowed away for safe travels.  Always do a final check of all the straps and connections.  And one thing a lot of people DON’T do is double check their hitch, hitch chains, and light connections.  Your truck and trailer has just been sitting all day in a public area accessible to anyone, including idiots, vandals, drunks, and people who are generally jealous that you have a boat.  Checking your connections to make sure they have not been tampered with is always a good measure.







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