This spring, the boats.com video crew wrote, filmed, and produced six towing videos, presented by Ram Trucks. With a Ram 1500 towing an Everglades 243, we had an excellent pair of tools to show trailer boaters how to safely back down a ramp, hook up for a long drive, and handle those pesky hills.
And with such great tools, it all should be easy, right?
In truth, the logistics involved were a challenge, even for a team that had traveled around the world to create video boat reviews and First Look Videos. One camera guy, one on-screen talent, and one producer were going to try to do the work of an entire film crew—with no grips, no assistants, and no time to waste.
Fortunately our on-screen talent, Lenny Rudow, had already written detailed scripts—and scoped out locations within a two hour range of his home base near Annapolis, MD, that would allow us to cover the biggest, baddest towing challenges (think mud, sand, shallow ramps, and even hill starts). He also detailed the Ram 1500 to its shiny black best, even though as he says, "I don't clean land vehicles, only boats." By the time videographer Paul Cronin and your humble narrator/producer showed up in a rental car full of video gear, we were ready to roll.
And then it started to rain.
It was clear that our first day would be a washout if we stayed in Annapolis. So Lenny climbed back in the truck, Paul and I folded ourselves into the rental car again, and we headed for the hills. We'd start with Towing in Mountainous Terrain—Hills Make it Harder.
Two hours later, we'd made it to the Appalachians—and it was still raining. So after consulting the MyRadar app, we drove another hour north until we'd cleared the wet weather. Problem solved.
Of course solving one problem instantly created another: we were in totally unknown territory. How could we find a location to safely stop, start, and film—all on an incline steep enough to challenge the Ram 1500? Scouting on the narrow mountain roads was difficult, especially while towing a sizeable boat trailer. And phone reception was unreliable, so we didn't dare separate too far. In desperation I dusted off a pre-smartphone skill and asked for directions, but that didn't really help either; it was too hard to explain to a local exactly what we needed.
"You want to do what?"
"We want to film a truck towing a boat. So we need a steep hill where we can safely pull off the road. Is there anything like that nearby?"
"Well, now let me think." Long pause. "There's a big parking lot for RVs about two miles down that a way..."
Since parking lots are usually flat, and Google maps showed a hilly park-like area in the opposite direction, we ignored this well-intended advice. Ten minutes later, we stumbled into a quiet wooded area, where—at least on a Tuesday afternoon—the road inclines were larger than the traffic volume.
Once on "location," we set up the rental car as a camera platform and went to work. Hill starts, truck details, and running footage (some captured by a point of view camera mounted on the boat's T-top) were soon "in the can." In spite of all the time lost to driving around (with the emphasis on "lost"), we had what we needed before dark. With a collective sigh of relief, we headed back to Annapolis.
But not so fast. Only a few minutes after we left our "location," Paul spotted a double lane that would be a perfect place to film passing on a hill, so we pulled off into the driveway of a lawn mower repair shop to set up the cameras again. All the workers stopped to gawk at the boat and truck. "Wanna trade that rig for a riding mower?" the owner asked, practically drooling. "Maybe two," I replied.
A half hour later, headed home, we were cruising through the battlefields of Gettysburg. I'm sure the ghosts of both Confederate and Union soldiers were thinking the same thing as the living locals as they watched us drive by: "Those guys are definitely lost."
The sun came back for the rest of our filming, and we only had to leave Sandy Point State Park in Annapolis for one reason: to find some mud. Lenny had a super-secret location that worked out well, so make sure to watch How to Tow Hunting Boats to see if you can figure out where we ended up.
Back on the shores of the Chesapeake, we blended in a lot better and no longer felt so "lost." We even watched other boats on trailers launching and hauling out, a sure sign that the boating season had finally arrived. Hopefully this new video series will help those trailer boaters (and you) have the best season ever. To receive a notification when each new segment goes live, subscribe to the boats.com YouTube channel.
Here's a link to the first one: