BUYING A BOAT TRAILER
A lot of Aussie boat owners like to transport their boats to and from the water, rather than moor it. If you’re looking to buy a boat or already own one, the next thing you need to do is have access to a reliable trailer. Boat trailers are usually the last thing to be considered when deciding to buy a boat, but they’re one of the most important factors affecting your overall boating experience. If you’re in the market for one, here are some tips that will help you choose a trailer that’s right for your boat-towing needs.
MULTI-ROLLER OR SKID TRAILER
The first decision to make when buying a boat trailer is to choose whether you want a multi-roller or skid trailer. A lot of multi-roller trailers have rear cradles, which can help position the bow and align the hull. If your boat is made of fibreglass or has a plate-alloy hull, then your best option is going with a multi-roller.
Now if your boat is made of pressed alloy or roto-moulded plastic hull, then it’s best that you go with a skid trailer. Skid trailers are usually carpeted or made of Teflon timber, which reduces hull flex during transport. It’s important to note that skid trailers are known for being more difficult to handle than multi-rollers. So, practice handling it before you tow your boat.
The size of the trailer will depend on the size of your boat. Here’s a table to guide you on what trailer size to go for.
Boat vs Trailer Size
Small lightweight fibreglass boats and aluminium boats
Unbraked with single-axle with Gross Trailer Mass (GTM) under 750kg
Alloy and fibreglass boats 5.5 metres in length
Mechanical brakes with single-axle trailer with a GTM of 1500kg+
Alloy and fibreglass boats 6.5 metres in length
Mechanical brakes with a tandem-axle trailer with a GTM of 2000kg
Alloy and fibreglass boats 6-8 metres in length
Breakaway brakes with a tandem axle with a GTM of 2000kg+
Choosing a trailer made of steel is the most popular choice because it’s highly durable. A steel trailer though should be galvanised, so you can use it in brackish or salty water. For maintenance, painting a protective coat over the steel trailer will make it last longer. If it has been in saltwater, don’t forget to hose the trailer down.
Another popular option is a trailer made of aluminium. Aluminium trailers are lightweight but very durable. They’re resistant to rust as long as the alloy isn’t inferior. Your other choice is a trailer made of plastic. It’s a less common boat trailer material but is known to be highly resistant to corrosion. These trailers are typically made of roto-moulded polyethylene.
The newest trends in boat trailer design have focused more on the refinement of trailer components, electrics, brakes, stronger and shapelier frames. Security locks and cosmetic changes to wheels and mudguards are also a common trend. The designs are changing in line with improved reliability and performance rather than just aesthetics.
THINGS TO REMEMBER
Take note that the ground clearance of a trailer measured from the horizontal road surface of any point on the underside of the trailer except the tyres, wheel and wheel hubs must not be less than 100mm for any point in the width of the vehicle which is within one metre fore and aft of any axle. If your vehicle and boat combination exceeds any specified dimension limits (check government regulations), it can only be driven on the road if the DTEI Permits Office issues an individual permit.
It’s getting harder to establish what constitutes a ‘standard’ trailer these days, but as long as you follow the guidelines set above, you should be able to choose a trailer to suit your needs quite easily.
Do you have any advice you can add? Share your experience below.