QUICK GUIDE TO BOAT TRAILER TOWING SAFETY ON HIGHWAYS
One of the great benefits of owning a trailer is the portability it offers you and your boat. You can take your boat anywhere you can tow it. Getting away to try new fishing grounds is a great way to spend long weekends and longer holidays. If you do not have much experience with long-distance towing, here is a look at some issues to think about when towing on highways that are not always an issue when you are on the short runs to and from your local boat ramp. Don’t end up with your boat on its head.
TOWING AT SPEED
Higher speeds put a lot more pressure on your boat, trailer, bearings and tyres. Always inspect your trailer well before taking on the highways. Stop regularly to check the air pressure with a reliable tyre pressure gauge in your trailer tyres.
REGULAR PIT STOPS
It always pays to stop regularly to check your whole trailer when you are towing at higher speed. Perform a walk-around inspection of your rig every few hours. Inspect safety chains, straps and check for overheating. Any surface too hot for your palm requires further attention. You should always check your bearings for signs of overheating. Bearings that are overheating are worn and can lead to disaster.
KEEP IT COVERED
Boat covers and canopies are imperative for smooth towing at higher speeds. Make sure your boat cover is designed for the abuse it will be subject to at higher highway speeds. Check your cover during your regular walk-around inspection and tighten straps.
Electric trolling motors and auxiliary motors should be detached before extended towing. Likewise, electronics such as fishfinders, radios and GPS units should be unmounted and stored away for over-the-road towing. This also applies to anchors. A small anchor can cause a lot of damage if it is not properly stored away.
KNOW YOUR WEIGHT
With all your gear packed away in your boat, your actual towing weight could be much more than you think. It is important to weigh all items before stowing them on your boat for towing. You must also consider the weight of any fuel and water. You may find your towing vehicle will struggle with all the extra weight. You can always test your vehicle by packing all your gear a few days before you depart. Fill up on fuel and water at your destination where possible.
Tandem trailers are simply much safer for long hauls because you can limp along on 3 wheels if a single tyre or bearing fails. Always make sure you are carrying a spare wheel, a tyre, bearings and lug nuts whether you are using a tandem or single trailer. A can of instant tyre sealant is an excellent option to take care of punctures for the short term.
If your trailer has brakes, make sure they have been serviced before taking on any long trip.
Stick-on round mirrors add an extra dimension to your view of your boat and behind.
DEALING WITH WIND
Crosswinds are a big concern when towing a boat at higher speeds. The only solution to deal with any type of wind is to slow down without using your brakes. This also applies if you are being overtaken by a large truck or semitrailer. Let’s just repeat that. Slow down without using your brakes.
TOWING AT NIGHT
Obviously, your lights need to be working. All the same considerations apply when towing at night except you need to take extra care. If you are going to park anywhere at night, you should try to find a light you can park under. If you are staying in a hotel or motel, ask for help in periodically checking your boat and trailer.
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