Top 5 tips for towing a boat without a hitch
Plenty of insurance claims come to us as a result of towing incidents, which have happened on the road, the ramp or even in the driveway at home. Many of these incidents could have easily been avoided, if the person in question had taken some simple precautions.
So, in the interests of keeping you and your boat safe, we’re sharing our top tips for towing a boat smarter and safer. Here’s what made the top 5.
No matter how small your boat may be, it’s still a considerable load to be towing. This is why it’s vital to drive slowly, defensively and carefully. That means braking well in advance of traffic lights, stop signs and give way signs, so you have time to decelerate, without jack knifing the trailer.
This also protects you a little more against other drivers, who see a trailer and for some reason, need to cut in just before you’re planning to stop. When you are approaching a stop sign or traffic light, always expect to stop and never floor it to beat the light. This is not okay in a regular car, and is even more dangerous when you’re towing a large load.
In WA, the maximum speed for a vehicle towing a trailer is 100km per hour. So, check speed restrictions in your state or territory, and be sensible about how fast you go. Around corners, you’ll want to ease in steadily, and then slowly accelerate out. Going too slow around corners can cause a trailer to bunny hop, so a slow acceleration is your best bet for a smooth turn.
While you’re at it, keep a good amount of distance between you and the car in front. A general rule of thumb is one car length for every ten km per hour you are traveling. If you can, double that when you’re towing. And finally, no matter how tempting it may be, don’t overtake other cars on the road. No boat ride is worth putting yourself or your passengers at risk.
Have the right gear
Having the right equipment when towing a boat will make a big difference safety-wise. If you’re towing a larger boat, look into the best trailer for the job. You may need a higher capacity tow bar, heavy duty suspension or brakes to ensure your boat travels safely. For smaller boats, such as a tinny, you may just need a small single-axle trailer.
Head here for more tips on choosing the right trailer for your boat.
Blind spots can be a hazard when you’re towing, so consider installing extended side-view mirrors, which will allow you to see around any blind corners caused by your trailer or boat. You’ll also want to make sure your trailer’s tyres are in good working order. Check the tread and pressure, and be sure to invest in quality tyres, so you have good traction.
For peace of mind, we recommend having your trailer serviced regularly, so any maintenance issues can be picked up before your next boating adventure is scheduled to take place. That way you minimise accidents on the road, and won’t be disappointed if your trip is derailed by an issue that could have been avoided.
Secure your load
How you pack your trailer has a big impact on how it performs on the road. When you’re packing the boat, be sure to spread the load evenly. Heavier items should be securely placed over the axle or axles (around the centre of the boat). And be sure to tie items down, which may move around in transit, as this will make handling a lot safer.
While you’re securing loose items, check all tie downs – on the front, rear and sides – are secure too. The coupling and safety chains should be secure and indicators and brake lights on the trailer should be tested before you hit the road too.
Double check on long trips
If you’re towing a long way, always check your trailer and load to ensure everything is in place. This means pulling over regularly to confirm your boat, straps and other items are secure. Check the wheel hubs to make sure they’re not too hot, as this could mean the wheel bearings are experiencing too much friction, and could eventually fall off.
When pulling over, try to choose a petrol station or rest stop that allows for larger vehicle or trailers, so you can smoothly enter and exit without too much stress. When re-entering traffic, remember your accelerating speed will be far slower than usual, so give yourself space and time to merge carefully.
Getting hours on the road is one of the best ways to master the art of towing. If you’re a beginner, we recommend driving with an experienced tower, who can offer you guidance and support – especially if you’re looking to hone your reversing skills. Above all, have fun, stay safe and good luck out there!
Need cover for your boat trailer?
If you have a boat trailer that needs to be insured, or would like to get your existing cover reviewed, please get in touch. Our marine under writers will recommend a product that comprehensively covers you for the stuff that matters, so you have peace of mind on the road.