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Trailering 101 – Taking the boat out

As the weather warms up, your thoughts turn to taking the boat out. Whether you’re just going down the street to the boat ramp at the lake, or you’re off on an adventure that’s much further away, you’ll want to make sure you put safety first. That starts with trailering. Here are some things to check before you take the boat out:

  • The tires – make sure they’re inflated to the right amount, and that you check them for obvious defects or problems.
  • The bearings – they should be free of any water, and they should be greased. If they aren’t, make sure you fix them before you head out.
  • The hitch and ball – you want them to be lubricated well, so they can be used with ease. If the ball isn’t greased and the hitch doesn’t work smoothly, the time to get that corrected is now.
  • The lights – the importance of this really goes without saying. All the trailer lights need to work properly, with no burned-out bulbs or faulty wiring. Check this systme out thoroughly, as your safety and the safety of others on the road could depend on it.
  • The tie-downs – make sure they’re in place, and that they hold like they should. Old or worn tie-downs should be replaced, so you don’t have to worry about them giving way on your trip.
  • Boat systems – check everything on your boat, and make sure it works. You don’t want to get ready to get in the water and suddenly find that you can’t because something is broken. That’s a waste of a day, and can ruin the plans you had.
  • Safety chains and supports – carefully examine everything that’s going to hold the boat on the trailer and the trailer on the truck. You don’t want to have an unfortunate accident as you’re headed down the road.

Depending on how often you take your boat out, you might want to make a checklist of the items above. That way, you won’t forget anything if you don’t use your boat a lot. People who take their boats out nearly every weekend in the summer months probably won’t forget to check these items, but it’s still a good idea to have a list. If you’re anxious to get going and excited to take the boat out, it’s possible that you could forget something important.

Even once you’ve been through everything on the list, make a short, quick trial run down the street so you can see if anything shifts or doesn’t feel right. An empty parking lot is a great place to pull over and check to make sure everything is fine. While you’re there, check the brakes, mirrors (adjust as necessary), wheel bearings, tie-downs, and hitch for any evidence of problems. Your boating plans will be a lot more enjoyable when you know all your systems have been checked out and you don’t need to worry so much about something going wrong with the boat or trailer.