When we set out to create the boats.com Tips for Boat Towing video series, presented by Ram trucks, there was one topic we knew we’d need to touch upon: safety tips. No matter what size or type of boat you tow, hauling your pride and joy down the road does present some unique dangers. And the only way to make sure a great day of boating stays great is to make sure the towing experience is a safe one. So tune in to this segment, Safety Tips for Trailering a Boat, before you make your next haul.
Now that you’ve watched the video, here’s a little more detail on each topic we covered:
1. Before you hit the road make a full pre-tow safety inspection of your rig.
- Check to make sure the truck and trailer are properly mated; this includes looking at the light plug, the hitch (ensure the safety pin and latch are properly in place), the brake safety cable, and the safety cables or chains. Make sure the safety cables or chains are crossed, to support the tongue of the trailer just in case the hitch fails for some reason.
- Check the bow strap and boat safety chain to make sure they’re also secure.
- Step aboard the boat, and look around for anything that’s not fully secured. Life jackets, empty coolers, and loose clothing are all items that can blow or bounce out of the boat when trailering.
- If there’s any heavy gear aboard, center it in the boat, as close as possible to directly above the trailer’s axle(s).
2. Tongue weight should be about 10- to 15-percent of your load. If it’s not, the trailer might sway. Swaying is extremely dangerous—if you detect sway in your rig, slow down immediately, pull over, and adjust your load.
3. Make sure your truck’s load is level and even, too.
4. Complete a final light check before pulling out onto the road. Be sure brake, running, tail, and blinker lights are all working properly.
5. Take turns as wide as possible to avoid clipping a curb or other obstructions. When multiple turn lanes are available, use the outside lane.
6. Leave extra following room—that extra weight you’re hauling can increase stopping distance significantly.
7. If wind-blast pushes your rig sideways, take your foot off the accelerator but do not step on the brakes, to reduce the effect.
8. When you arrive at the boat ramp (or if you stop along the way,) walk back to the trailer hubs and feel them. They should be cool to the touch. If they’re hot, your bearings aren’t functioning properly—have them serviced immediately, or you could experience bearing failure while rolling down the road.
9. Don’t remove the winch strap and safety chain until you’ve backed the boat down into the water. Yes, the boat CAN slide off and smash onto the boat ramp, if you remove the strap and chain too early!
10. BONUS TIP: Tow your boat with a competent tow vehicle. Sure, Ram sponsored this series, so you might expect us to be a bit biased about their trucks. I’m not going to tell you to run right out and buy the 1500 Outdoorsman we used to film the series, but I do want to clue you in to a few things I learned about the truck through a full week of towing (over 670 miles) through mountains, down highways, and over bridges.
First off, sway is less of an issue than usual. The Ram has Trailer Sway Control, which applies individual wheel brakes and/or reduces power to the wheels to reduce sway automatically. Secondly, the Active Level Four Corner Air Suspension with automatic load-leveling is a sweet feature; it adjusts the truck to account for load, and also maintains the best suspension adjustment to attain optimum mileage.
Finally, I personally loved the Hill Start Assist feature. When you’re starting up from a dead-stop on a steep hill or at the boat ramp, it prevents your rig from rolling backwards as you move your foot from the brake pedal to the gas.
We haven’t even had a chance to get into the 5.7L HEMI powerplant, the eight-speed transmission, or the touch-screen control panel on the dash, but if you’re shopping for a tow vehicle, you’ve probably looked into the Ram and all its features already. If you haven’t, here's a link to the Ram web site.
And just for the record, there was one thing about this truck I didn’t like: at the end of the week, they made me give it back!