Trailer Boaters' Life Hacks--Add Yours

Obie1

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Since it's the season, I thought I'd post a few things I've learned over the years and invite others to add.
1. Always carry a spare key to your truck in your boat. I learned this when my dog stepped on the power locks and left my locked truck and trailer in the middle of a one lane boat launch. Hilarity did not ensue.
2. Whenever you take out the drain plug, tie a piece of surveyor's tape to your bow eye. When you go to launch, you'll see the tape and remember why it's there (yeah, learned that one the hard way, too).
3. Particularly if you are launching alone, if the ramp is at all steep or slick, chock your truck. Fortunately, I learned this from watching someone else who ended up having a really bad day. Apparently the DNR looks unfavorably on swimming Grand Cherokees.

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if you can't back it up, you shouldn't be towing it

That bit of wisdom comes from the guy that got a text from his wife back home in NH that some moron with a boat trailer backed it into one of our cars yesterday... luckily it was not the brand new one, but it is still going to be a pain in the backside to get fixed.
 
Since it's the season, I thought I'd post a few things I've learned over the years and invite others to add.
1. Always carry a spare key to your truck in your boat. I learned this when my dog stepped on the power locks and left my locked truck and trailer in the middle of a one lane boat launch. Hilarity did not ensue.
2. Whenever you take out the drain plug, tie a piece of surveyor's tape to your bow eye. When you go to launch, you'll see the tape and remember why it's there (yeah, learned that one the hard way, too.
3. Particularly if you are launching alone, if the ramp is at all steep or slick, chock your truck. Fortunately, I learned this from watching someone else who ended up having a really bad day. Apparently the DNR looks unfavorably on swimming Grand Cherokees.

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Whenever you take out a drain plug, tie it around your wrist so it's uncomfortable.

Make sure you have any keys on board tied to sufficient day glo colored floatation device.
 
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I bought my brother in law a few extra drain plugs to keep on his boat after he went to launch one spring and could not find his.
 
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I agree with keeping track of that drain plug. I'm guilty of launching once without re-installing it. Do anything you have to to do to make it a triple check item.

I also agree with making sure keys are attached to flotation device key rings. I've seen too many people lose them overboard.

Make sure that dock line is secure. LOL. I've seen a lot of boats floating away too at launch sites.
 
A. To avoid trailer lights constantly rusting and dying from being dunked:

1) switch to epoxy sealed LED light assemblies

2) even those can leak, so I also mount them with wing nuts and electrical connector plugs and remove/reinstall them each time. With practice, it just takes a minute.


B. I have a cord and handle tied to my chock and run the handle back into the vehicle, so that once I edge the vehicle forward I can retrieve the chock without getting out of the vehicle again and relying on the parking brake and/or transmission lock.
 
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Chip in for gas, go out in someone else's boat, wear a life jacket, drink beer and fish. Let them worry about the boat. [laugh]

I have taken many people fishing on my boat.

Never had anyone pay for gas or hand me money or buy lunch or get me some luurrrz or anything.

At least at this point my SIL is good enough to know what's needed for us to get out and get back and is real helpful in that department.
 
i launch a ton by my self, and not all ramps have a dock. my cheat is to tie a 30' lead to the bow and to the tongue jack, then i back in deep enough for it to float off and then slowly pull forward bringing the boat to shore. secure it, park truck and then head off

A friend of mine did this same trick. He did a lot of bass fishing so he would launch by himself very early in the mornings.
 
I like being out on the lake in our 17' Lund. I can launch and trailer by myself in almost any conditions.
But still after many years, I confess to getting boat ramp anxiety...(BRA)...
For me, the ramp experience is by far the worst part of boating.
 
The best boat is a friends boat. [cheers]
This....or just get fishing guide.

The amount I go fishing for stripers....I just do this. Go with few guys pay $200.....fish.....walk away.

No boat, no cleaning, no maintainance, no trailers, no trucks, no taxes, no tags, no registrations, no storage, no winterizing........no worries.

There is no way I could be talked into a boat, unless I lived on a lake. Even then it would be a simple pontoon type.
 
  • Don’t unclip the winch strap from the bow eye until you are floating. I watched a guy‘s brand new center console skid down the ramp leaving a nice fiberglass coating on the ramp.
  • Use a winch strap vertically from the bow eye to the trailer (In addition to the winch strap). It takes a lot of flex out of the trailer and makes trailering more enjoyable.
  • Never, and I mean, NEVER, laugh at someone else’s misfortune or mistakes…karma is a bitch.
 
In 20 years of boat trailering I never forgot the plug (I sold the boats so am not jinxing myself). At the Boaters Safety school, they recommended having a spare in the tool bag. Over the years I bet I gave 4 or 5 away to other boaters that got to the ramp and didn’t know where it was. I believe the Wesagusset ramp in Weymouth has a reminder sign “Put the plug in”
 
You can’t have fun unless you get to the boat ramp. To that end

1. Keep tires properly inflated and replace after 5 years.

2. Never use bearing buddies. Never! Bearing buddies lube the outer bearing while it is usually the inner bearing that fails. Learn to remove inspect lube and/ or replace bearings and races. Do it annually or pay someone to do it.

3. Working trailer brakes are your friends, especially as brakes components on vehicles have less and less material to them. A 3500 pound single axel trailer without brakes may be legal, but it is not smart IMHO. I tow with full size pick up or suburban and still have brakes on the single axel boat and utility trailers

4. Highway towing- check the speed rating of your tires. I buy tires rated for 82 mph. Some are rated below 70. I buy tires on line as local guys ( including big tire chains) know squat about trailer tires. I use etrailer.com or tire rack.
 
Please strap your boat down to the trailer. Anyone who relies on just some silly safety chain is a fool. Two on the stern and one on the bow.

Guy crashed his truck and trailer earlier this week heading up to Rockwood. Boat left the trailer and sheared the utility pole.
 
  • Don’t unclip the winch strap from the bow eye until you are floating.
  • Never, and I mean, NEVER, laugh at someone else’s misfortune or mistakes…karma is a bitch.
While waiting to load my boat, a Ski Nautique was being hauled out. When that boat landed on the ramp as the tow vehicle stomped on the accelerator, the sound made as the tracking skegs crushed was a sound I've heard like nothing else.

And this one time, I'm in the que with my trailer. I'm with a friend, waiting for an old timer to load his boat. His trailer has one of those deck things on it, to walk down the tongue of the trailer. The guy slips off of it while messing with the bow line, and gets a compound fracture of the tibia. The worst part, my friend had let out a laugh as the old timer splashed into the water.

Some good tips in this thread. Thanks for posting.
 
In 20 years of boat trailering I never forgot the plug (I sold the boats so am not jinxing myself). At the Boaters Safety school, they recommended having a spare in the tool bag. Over the years I bet I gave 4 or 5 away to other boaters that got to the ramp and didn’t know where it was. I believe the Wesagusset ramp in Weymouth has a reminder sign “Put the plug in”
I grew up trailering my fathers boat, in the 15 years we had boats that we trailered we never forgot the plug but we were always afraid one day we would 😂 . Many times we saw others make that mistake.

The Sunapee harbor public boat launch on lake Sunapee is great people watching spot. We saw several people loose boats and trucks to the watery depths. No one was ever injured thankfully.
 
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i launch a ton by my self, and not all ramps have a dock. my cheat is to tie a 30' lead to the bow and to the tongue jack, then i back in deep enough for it to float off and then slowly pull forward bringing the boat to shore. secure it, park truck and then head off

I do this all the time
 
If you're launching at a public ramp and leaving your truck and trailer parked there, be sure you lock your trailer tongue and your hitch to the receiver. My brother came in from fishing the harbor in his 19' Mako and his trailer was gone. He tied up at a nearby yacht club for a couple of days until he bought a new trailer. Expensive lesson.
 
Use a winch strap vertically from the bow eye to the trailer (In addition to the winch strap)
I always ran the winch hook through the bow eye, down to the trailer tongue and back up to the bow eye, clipping it on the eye, a couple clicks on the winch and the bow is secured. Use boat straps too!
 
i launch a ton by my self, and not all ramps have a dock. my cheat is to tie a 30' lead to the bow and to the tongue jack, then i back in deep enough for it to float off and then slowly pull forward bringing the boat to shore. secure it, park truck and then head off
Exactly what I do. But once I didn't in late October.
 
One tip I just got smart enough to do myself. get an inexpensive ir temp gun to measure bearing temps

I have always been told to check the hubs ( bearing) temp each time I stop to make sure they aren’t hot The old if you can keep your hand on it for three seconds you are ok. In my collection of trailers ( boat and non boat) I always do this. I had one boat trailer I was looking at replacing hubs and bearings or maybe whole axel as it always seemed seemed to run warm. I always stress on it on July vacation going hundreds of miles.

so this year I’m almost back home and stop and check and both hubs seem warm. Getting warmer each stop. My bright idea was to actually measure the temp with an IR temp gun that was in black stone griddle cooking kit In truck.

definate eye opener. Bearing temp was only 111 degrees. ( for reference a hot tub is hot at 103 or 104 degrees) so bearings were warm.

but- Air temp was 90 degrees and nice sunny day.
pavement was 116 degrees, tires 120, and the metal boat fender ( light grey) in the sun was 109. So not a problem.

reading up on it above 140 is time for concern.
 
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