How to choose a boat trailer

A boat hull is designed for water. When trailered over rough roads, it can suffer more damage than it does afloat in rough seas unless the trailer’s rollers and bolsters are positioned so that they cushion the hull. The trailer axles should be positioned or the boat mounted so that about 5 to 10 percent of the boat’s weight rests on the car’s hitch. Before attaching the trailer to the car, place a bathroom scale beneath the hitch to determine the load at that point.

Trailers are rated for the load they can carry. When you’re buying or renting one, keep in mind that a 2,000-pound boat can become 3,000 pounds once a big outboard motor, fuel tanks, tackle, and gear are added. (See also Trailers.)

Place your gear so that the weight is distributed equally between the stern and bow halves. Too much stem weight can make the rig fish-tail, or sway, dangerously. Too much weight on the hitch lifts the car’s front end, throwing the headlight beams too high and making steering difficult. Trailer maintenance Because trailer wheels are small and rotate fast, they build up heat on a trip. Then, while submerged during launching, they suck water through the hubs and into the bearings. Inspect unsealed bearings after each entry into the water and, if necessary, repack them with grease. Salt water corrodes; hose down the trailer after every haul-out.

If you store your boat off-season on the trailer, block up the frame to take weight off the tires and springs. Before the next launch, reexamine tires and spare, bearings, frame, winch, hitch, tie-downs, and wiring.