Preparing The Boat For Road Travel
Updated: Feb 12
Before taking the boat to the water or from the water back home there are a number of things every boater should be checking. These checks are not only for safety but will help you avoid fines, and damages to your boat! Check out our pre-travel checklist below for all the details. The first few are common but the end of the list is filled with lessons we learned the hard way:
1. Lights - Ensure all of your trailer lights are plugged in and operating. Driving down the road without functioning trailer lights is dangerous to vehicles following behind you and can be met with a hefty fine!
2. Safety Chain - Make sure the safety chain is attached to the front hook of your boat. While most would assume the loading pulley is sufficient these devices are prone to failure and the straps prone to breakage; especially after rubbing on the trailer during trailer! The safety chain will prevent the boat from sliding off the back of the trailer while on steep hills or if serious bumps are encountered on the road.
3. Back Straps - Similar to the safety chain the back straps help ensure the boat is secure on the trailer and not going to shift from side to side if any bumps are encountered on the road. An unbalanced load can cause steering difficulties and can dangerous on the road.
4. Skeg/Motor Stand - If your boat has a skeg/motor stand use it. This will prevent the motor from dropping and potentially hitting the road during travel as well as reduce the impact on the hydraulic systems or gears holding it in place
5. Windows Closed & Locked - If you have a walkthrough boat model ensure the window is properly closed. Having the window clipped open or free to move is a sure fire way to end up with a shattered window by the time you reach your destination
6. Stow Loose Items - This is to prevent them from blowing away while you are on route to your destination. The drafts created by other passing vehicles and the aerodynamics of yours plus the trailer can lead to a number of items blowing out of the boat. This can be dangerous for other road users and we are sure you do not want to be losing items during travel.
7. Put Boat In Gear - While this may not make a difference for those who only bring the boat on the road once or twice a year those that travel weekly will see the benefit. When boats are left in neutral this allows the prop to continue spinning and it will do just that while driving down the road. The problem is that the prop is not meant to spin while not being lubricated by the water and so seals can be worn out much more quickly than expected. This is easily prevented by simply putting the boat in gear which locks the prop in place.
8. BE SURE NOTHING IS NEAR THE TRIM BUTTONS - We learned this lesson the hard way. One week after getting our newest boat we were travelling down the road and heard grinding noises. After pulling over we noticed our skeg was dragging on the road! After confirming the hydraulics were in fact working properly we found that the bumper buoy was bouncing up in between the seat and throttle and hitting the trim down button while we were driving. Talk about unlucky but a lesson we won't soon forget. Before heading down the be sure that nothing is near trim buttons (throttle, at motor, at bow, especially if no motor stand)
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