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Boat trailer tips

BOAT trailers are the unsung heroes in boating. While boats and engines get most of the attention, the trailer works effortlessly to get your pride and joy to and from the boat ramp each time you go fishing. Most people only recognise the importance of a trailer when something goes wrong. And when that happens, it’s usually too late.

Let’s look at some simple trailer tips, from choosing the correct one for your boat to learning how to reverse and maintain your trailer. In the end, you’ll have less hassles and spend more time doing what you should be doing, on the water catching fish.

1) Match your boat

It’s important if you’re buying a trailer, boat and engine together to ensure the trailer is properly fitted to your boat. Often the boat manufacturer offers packages and the hard work of ensuring your tailer matches has been taken care of. Having a boat and trailer that fits well is safer and easier to use at the time of launching. There’s also less risk of damaging the boat, which can happen in a worse case scenario when the trailer and boat are incompatible.

2) Alloy or galvanised steel?

Alloy is a great material for trailers and many new models are coming out made from this lightweight material. There are several advantages including, as sad above, they’re lighter and easier to tow, and they’re longer lasting because they’re less prone to corrosion. On the flip-side, they’re more expensive and depending on your boat, may exceed your budget.

3) Is there a catch?

There are several brands producing “catches” for trailers. Some are sold after market and you can fit yourself, while others come with the trailer. They’re designed to make launching and retrieving easier, especially if you’re launching solo. They feature a latch that attaches to the boat and is released when launching. In my opinion, they’re worth their weight in gold!

4) Is it a drive-on trailer?

Some trailers are designed for the boat to be driven on, while others, usually smaller models, are not. Whichever one you have, ensure you use it correctly. If it’s a drive-on trailer, you will make your life difficult if you try to man handle the boat and use the winch. Conversely, try not to drive onto a basic non-drive-on-trailer. You could damage the boat.

5) Brakes

Ensure you know your state’s rules around braked trailers. Typically boats above a certain weight (usually 750kg) will require brakes. Refer to Tip 1 and ensure the boat and trailer match. It doesn’t hurt to have brakes on lighter trailers, too.

6) Security

Trailers get stolen. Make sure you buy a trailer lock and use it every time. They’re not fool proof, but they will slow up a potential thief. Also, make sure your trailer and boat is fully insured!

7) Maintain your trailer!

Now you own a trailer, ensure it’s maintained. Thoroughly wash it after using in saltwater. Focus on the moving parts and areas around the springs, welds and bolts. The sooner you can wash your trailer after being in saltwater, the longer it will last.

8) Ensure you have a suitable car

This seems obvious, but every day people are driving around with boats and trailers that exceed the legal requirements for their car. It’s a reason so many of us drive 4WDs. They have the towing capacity and torque to handle large heavy boats and trailers.

9) Practise reversing

Every time I visit a boat ramp someone os having problems reversing. If you’re new to reversing a tailer, don’t be embarrassed. Head to the boat ramp when it’s quiet, such as mid-week and just practice until perfect. A good tip is to always use the side mirrors.

10) Check if it’s built in Australia

There’s nothing wrong with imported boats, but imported trailers can cause problems, especially if they’ve been imported directly without any modifications to suit your local state’s rules. If you have an imported trailer, check it arrived through a distributor and is fixed with all of the parts and lights to make it compliant.

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