As a boat owner and former captain, I have towed boats countless times, including long trips from NY to Florida. Unfortunately, towing boats present more dangers than driving without a trailer and vessel attached. Take it from me: I have seen many mistakes and, unfortunately, accidents where the vessel was totaled. Here are 10 things to avoid when trailering a boat. 

Failing To Secure The Tongue To The Hitch

One of the more common mistakes is failing to properly secure the tongue to the hitch of the vehicle. In fact, this mistake once happened to me. I had purchased a work trailer and the dealer associate connected the trailer to my truck. Shortly after, the trailer became disconnected and smashed into the back of my truck. Fortunately, the chains kept the trailer from moving wildly down the street. 

With that said, make sure to secure the tongue to the hitch of the vehicle. Furthermore, double-check that it is ready for towing. 

Not Being Mindful Of Slippery Roads

Again, another mistake that I made was failing to give enough room to slow down and stop on wet, slick roads. 

I was towing my boat after a day of fishing and nearing an exit ramp with backed-up traffic. The tow vehicle and trailer began sliding side to side. However, I was able to remain in control and stop in time. Remember to give yourself plenty of room to slow your speed when roads are wet, snowy, or icy. 

Leaving Items Unsecured In The Boat

No doubt about it, a lot of expensive gear has gone airborne and lost for good when they are not secured before towing. 

Every time you get ready to tow the boat, make sure to climb aboard and tie down light objects that are subject to flying out of the boat when towing at high rates of speed. Some of the gear that is most at risk is coolers, seat cushions, rafts, and more. 

Driving Too Closely To Traffic Ahead

Tailgating when towing a vessel is a no-go. Remember, the stopping time is much reduced because of the weight of the boat and the trailer. 

Rather than colliding with the vehicle ahead of you, make sure to give yourself plenty of space. 

Forgetting To Connect The Tailight Cable

Lights are critical for safety. With that being said, you’re going to need to connect your trailer light cable before you head out on the road. 

The cable if not connected, is likely to drag on the ground and become damaged if it is not attached. Lastly, if you don’t connect the wiring harness, drivers will not be able to determine when you are turning, slowing down, or operating with your lights on. 

Making Too Sharp Of Turns

If you have ever seen a tractor-trailer turn too sharply, the same can happen with a boat and a trailer. 

With that said, make sure that you give yourself plenty of room to make a U-turn or into parking lots or driveways. Damage to the vehicle, trailer, or vessel can be avoided by being smart. 

Leaving The Motor In The Trimmed Down Position

Yep, I have done this too. One time when I was pulling my boat out of a launch ramp I dragged the skeg along the ground. I wasn’t thinking and scraped the bottom of the motor. 

The next time you’re pulling the boat and trailer out of the driveway, storage center, or boat launch, make sure that the motor is trimmed in the up position. You don’t want to replace your lower unit as a result of this mistake. 

Leaving The Chocks In Place

This is one of the mistakes I have not made yet, but it is certainly possible in the future. At one point, I watched a man in a truck attempt to pull away with the chocks in place. It should be noted that he had a helper. The helper failed to recognize the wheels were blocked. At this point with the engine revving I stepped in to help. 

In order to avoid being stuck in position when you’re ready to tow your boat, make sure the chocks are removed. 

Traveling At Excessive Speeds

Importantly, if you’re driving at excessive speeds, you are more likely to run into a situation where you can’t stop and cause an accident.

Secondly, driving at high rates of speed when you’re towing a boat will cause you to burn excessive fuel. 

Don’t travel at high rates of speed when you’re towing a vessel because you are putting you and your passengers at risk of injury most improtantly. Secondly, you are more likely to damage the vehicle and boat if you get into an accident becuase of a higher level of impact. 

Driving In The Left Lane On Highways

It drives me crazy when people towing any form of trailer drive in the left lane. I’ll admit I like to drive fast when I’m not towing. If you have a boat and trailer behind your vehicle, only use the left lane on a highway to pass in short spurts. 

Unfortunately, all too often boat owners remain in the left lane and slow down the flow of traffic on interstate. Be smart and move out of the way. 

Avoid These 10 Things When Trailering A Vessel

The biggest factor when towing a boat is safety. You need to put yourself, your passengers, and the boat first. However, often the operator of the vehicle is likely to be the culprit of causing an incident that can be avoided. I suggest following these 10 considerations the next time you tow your vessel.