Boating is great fun. However, for many people getting their craft to the water can be a bit of a hassle. As such, trailers are extremely important pieces of equipment for most boat owners.
The following sections will cover what to look for in a trailer, as well as go over how to properly use one.
Bunk Trailers and Rollers
The two most popular boat trailers types are bunks and rollers.
Bunk trailers use two or more long boards covered in a soft, felt-like fabric to support the boat’s keel. Not only does that material prevent damage, but it also makes it easy for the boat to slide on and off the trailer.
When towing, it is best to use bunk trailers for boats that measure 20 feet or less. If you have a larger vessel, you should only use bunks for dry or on-land purposes.
The other most popular style, roller trailers, use rubber or plastic rollers to support the boat’s weight as it moves along.
That process allows the craft to easily slide on and off the trailer without any resistance. Such options have many applications, but they are best for boaters who often tow in and out of waterways.
Float-On and DIY Options
Another popular option are float-on trailers. As the name suggests, this style is a large bunk trailer that is submerged in water to allow the boat to float or drive up directly onto it.
If you’re using a smaller boat or trailer, you can even pull or winch the boat onto the trailer without putting the entire device down into the water.
However, if money is a concern you have other options available to you as well. You can always make your own homemade boat trailer or shop for boat trailers on eBay.
The Correct Vehicle and Registration
Once you’ve chosen the correct option, you next need to know how to load your boat.
However, before that step, you should always make sure your vehicle is capable of towing a larger vessel. Most boats need SUVs or pickup trucks, but smaller-sized vehicles can tow aluminum boats as well.
In addition, also see if you’re following proper boat trailer registration laws. These differ by state, so check yours before towing.
How to Load Your Boat
To start loading the boat on the trailer, the driver of the tow vehicle brings it up to the dock. The boat driver then idles out away from the ramp or pulls up alongside the dock (whichever is easier). From there, you attach one line to a bow cleat and one to the stern.
Next, the vehicle driver backs into the ramp. Just be careful here. If you ever notice the trailer tires dropping off the end you need to pull forward so that the rig does not get stuck during loading.
Then, as the towing rig pulls into position down the ramp, unload everyone from the boat but leave the gear on (it will come off later).
Crew members should hold the lines to keep the boat in position on the water. Once it is in place, the driver puts the car or truck in park but keeps the engine running.
Drag Up and Winch On
At this point, many boats can mostly float onto the trailer. However, if you own a larger vessel you might want to slowly drive it up onto the trailer for more control. Just don’t apply the throttle. Doing so can wash the material under the end of the ramp and cause it to deteriorate.
Once the above steps are completed, you or the driver needs to move to the trailer tongue to attach either the winch strap or cable to the boat’s bow eye.
From there you can crank the boat fully onto the trailer. As soon as the boat is up against the winch post you should attach the safety chain.
Pull Up, Unload, and Drain
To move into the last steps, raise the outboard or sterndrive (if needed) and have the driver steadily move up the ramp. Then get off the boat and follow the tow vehicle into the loading zone.
Once you’re out of the water, you should pull all of the plugs. That will give the boat time to drain while you move your gear into the tow vehicle.
Finally, tear everything down, lower antennae, plug in the trailer lights and make sure your boat is ready for the road.
Moving from Point A to Point B
Loading a boat is not a simple process, but it is one you should get the hang of through practice and proper equipment.
Following the above steps will make sure you can always transition from trailer to water and back. As long as you understand the rules and know the types of trailers available to you, you’ll have a good hook-up in no time.
(If you are transporting a lighter or smaller boat, you may want to consider boat roof racks.)