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There’s lots of fun and adventure to have with owning a boat. Together with your 4WD or SUV, you have the ultimate freedom to escape off road and off land.
But the freedom comes with practicalities. Because unless you’re lucky enough to have a mooring, you’ve got to get your boat to the water. And that means towing it out of the driveway and down to a boat ramp.
Now, this can be challenging for even the experienced boat owner, so if you’re new at the game don’t worry. With practice and preparation, mastering towing a boat is an art well worth learning.
Follow these 10 tips and you’ll spend more time behind the wheel of your boat and less in your car.
1. Do a pre tow safety inspection
It doesn’t have to be a list as long as your arm. But go through the basics. Ensure things are secure in the boat, the weight is spread evenly and the outboard motor is secure. Check trailer tyre pressure (some trailers sit idle for months) and see that all trailer lights work. And make sure the trailer is hitched correctly with crossed safety chains to the car.
2. Get extended side-view mirrors
They’re priceless when towing a boat because that’s all you’ll use when maneuvering. Your rear vision mirror is useless, as your view is likely to be blocked by the boat.
3. Turn wide
Make extra wide turns to avoid going over curbs with your trailer. Especially when turning into petrol stations or performing a U-turn. Remember, your trailer has a tighter turning circle than the vehicle you’re driving.
4. Room to stop
Give yourself ample controlled stopping distance to the car in front of you, as your car’s braking performance will be compromised by the extra load. You will need more room to stop and more time to react to an emergency situation.
5. Extra length
Of course you’ll need a bigger space to merge into when changing lanes. And you’ll need a lot more space to overtake in. Remember, your car will take longer to get going because of the extra weight you’re pulling.
6. Be considerate
Speed limits, especially on freeways, may be too fast for you while towing a boat. If you’re driving slower, be considerate, keep in the left hand lane and allow drivers to safely pass you.
Don’t remove the winch strap and safety chain until you’ve backed the boat down into the water. If you remove the strap and chain too early, the boat can slide off the trailer and cause all sorts of headaches.
8. Boat ramp ready
Once you’re at the boat ramp it’s important to be aware of other users. At busy boat ramps you may only have a few minutes to get your boat into the water, you don’t want to be scrambling around looking for bait, hats or sunscreen with a line-up of boats behind you. Have all your gear together and be ready to launch when it’s your turn.
9. Practice, practice
To build your confidence, practice before you head off on a busy long weekend. Take your trailer to a large open parking lot to get the feel of the extension of your car and the additional weight. Practice turning and backing up, as this is the maneuver most people find the toughest and most challenging.
10. Grip or slip
The importance of tyre grip with towing a boat cannot be over emphasised. The additional towing weight will require tyres with greater traction to ensure the vehicle and trailer don’t slip on the various road surfaces encountered. Especially when launching and retrieving from slippery, muddy boat ramps. And make sure you’re tyres are in good condition.
The Bridgestone Dueler range is designed to provide exceptional grip for all surfaces in all terrains. Consult an expert at your local Bridgestone tyre store about the right Dueler tyre for your 4WD or SUV when towing your boat.
Share your tips on towing a boat. Let us know in the comments below.