If you plan on towing your boat in and out of the water, having the proper trailer is essential. It’s like having the proper tires on a car in the snow or on a racetrack. If you don’t, all sorts of things can go wrong. Buying the right trailer however is not determined by the amount of frills and bling it adds to the road but rather by a proper fit, working parts and secure hookups. This article will give you a basic outline of things to consider when purchasing your boats “wheels.”
- Will you need a bunk or roller trailer? What’s the difference? A bunk trailer is designed for loading and unloading boats in deeper water and will need to be backed fairly far in to load your boat. It is generally the more affordable type of trailer and is a bit easier to drive on. It is also very easy to float on, due to the deeper depth of water. Typical reviews also suggest that bunks are easier to center your boat and provide excellent support for longer trailering distances. A great brand, especially for salt water use, is Float-On Boat Trailers. They have recently added waterproof lighting which really illuminates the boat both on the road and while loading and unloading. Roller trailers are preferred for launching and trailering in shallower waters. These trailers are designed for easy loading without having to submerge the trailer axels, and if properly adjusted, offer very easy drive-on drive-off capabilities. They work well in all tide stages and distribute the boats weight over many points. Shoreland’r offers a large selection of roller trailers for all sizes and is a very reputable company. Make sure you check your boats warranty however- some manufacturers will void the boats warranty if a roller trailer is used as it can dimple the hull.
- The second step is determining the length and weight of your boat for your trailer needs. You want to error on the side of too big and strong over too small. When considering the weight of your boat, remember to add the motor, fuel, water, batteries, gear and accessories and not just the hull weight. Also consider your vehicles towing capacity as the weight of the trailer and fully loaded boat can add up quickly. As far as the length, you’ll want to include the bow pulpit if your boat has one, but do not include the swim platform. The trailers support ends at the hulls running surface. A general rule of thumb is to purchase a trailer 2 feet longer than your boat hulls length.
- Look for a trailer with larger tires. The larger the tire, the longer the life of both the tire itself and the wheel bearings due to less rotations.
- Although not all states require trailer brakes and lights, it wouldn’t be wise to not have them. Any added protection for the motor and back end of your boat is a must. Ensure they are designed for boat trailers (in other words, make sure they are waterproof and sealed) and check them regularly to ensure they are working properly. The additional brakes for your trailer will help keep not only your boat safe, but you safe, as well as the other drivers around you.
- Type of material used for the trailer is another thing to consider- If you will be using your boat in saltwater, you should only be considering aluminum or stainless steel. Anything else will rust so fast you’ll be lucky to use it an entire season. When I say aluminum, be sure to inspect ALL parts of the trailer. Another option would be hot dipped galvanized steel but these can become very heavy. Again, don’t forget to consider your vehicles towing capacity when determining which type of trailer to purchase. Don’t go with a 3 axel if a 2 axel will do- less is more in that respect and makes maneuvering in tight spaces significantly easier.
- There are a few add-ons you should consider if the budget allows for them. Load guides will help you center the boat on the trailer. A transom saver reduces engine pressure by adding additional support. As we mentioned earlier, waterproof lights that run the length of the trailer, although not providing functionality per se, do provide pride and FUN! A spare (or two) trailer tire is a great thing to have available as it is not safe to leave your boat and trailer on a jack road side while you drive miles to get a new tire. You may want to add a complete correctly sized hub if space permits.
Boating is an expensive hobby but well worth it if you are prepared. Make sure you don’t neglect the trailer- it can literally make or break your day on the water! I hope this article gave you a bit more insight on what to look for. As always, speak with your boat manufacturer as well as a rep from the trailer companies to ensure you get the proper trailer fit and type for your boating needs.