Pre-Road Prep

We really like this article because it brings up a very important part of boating that often gets forgotten. I know first-hand that the incidentals can take precedence when preparing for a rendezvous. Do we have enough beverages and snacks? Bloody Marys or Mimosas? And don’t forget the ice! As a boat owner, executing a simple safety check on your trailer (and tow vehicle) are critical for having good times on the water.
 
Call it the poker run that never was. Some boating friends had invited me along on a big Memorial Day weekend boat rendezvous on the Alabama Gulf Coast. My friend had paid the early registration fee and made sure the engine in his beautiful 25-foot Sea Ray Sundancer had been serviced, the boat washed and detailed, the galley and coolers stocked full of food and beverages, and the fuel tank topped off. We piled into his pickup truck and hit the road just before daylight to make the two-hour drive to the annual spring outing. But we never made the launch ramp. A flat tire on his trailer brought the trip to a halt. While surveying the ruined tire and rim, we realized that although my friend had made sure the boat and our provisions were taken care of, we hadn’t given the trailer or tow vehicle a proper inspection. And what was supposed to have been a fun-filled weekend was anything but. The lesson learned from this experience: You can’t go boating if your tow vehicle and trailer aren’t in tip-top shape.
 
To prevent potential problems, plan ahead and do regular maintenance on both tow vehicle and boat trailer. Start by taking your boat and trailer to an authorized dealer such as Lake Union Sea Ray. A professional inspection will give you unmatched peace of mind.
 
With every new boat purchase Lake Union Sea Ray offers a courtesy annual safety inspection for trailer-boats as part of the Lake Union Sea Ray Advantage Program. Click here to learn more.
 
We want our customers to always have a great boating experience. When you are trailering your boat, it starts with the trailer. Here are a few great tips from the article. Click here to read the full article by Bruce W. Smith, author of The Complete Guide to Trailering Your Boat.
 
HITCH CONNECTION
Before every tow, take a few minutes to closely examine the tow vehicle hitch and trailer coupler. Check for obvious wear and tear, make sure the receiver locking pin is in and the lock pin in place. Next, inspect the hitch ball and the trailer coupler. The ball nut must be really tight, and it’s good to have a light coating of marine grease over it. The trailer coupler latch and coupler should be in perfect working order, too. The ball and coupler should be compatible (there are two primary standard sizes) and the lock pin in place to keep the coupler latch securely closed.
 
Finally, examine the wiring harness and plug that the trailer wiring plugs into; the connector plug and wiring should be in good condition. Look for corroded plugs/sockets, abraded wiring, dangling wiring, hanging lights and anything else that looks out of the ordinary. If you see a problem, fix it.

TRAILER INSPECTION
If you are comfortable around the automotive toolbox, start by checking the brakes. Jack the trailer up and pull the wheel drums (or rotors/discs) for a thorough inspection. At the same time, check, clean and repack the wheel bearings. (This should be done at least once a year.) Use a good bearing protector to keep them properly lubed. We recommend visiting Lake Union Sea Ray for a routine inspection.
 
Trailer lights get a lot of dunking at the launch ramp, and corrosion can creep into light sockets and wiring. The new LED trailer lights are far less troublesome, and if your trailer doesn’t have them, consider an upgrade. If your trailer isn’t equipped with sealed lights, pull the light bulbs and spray dielectric grease into every socket. Then plug the harness into the tow vehicle and check to make sure taillights, the license plate light, directionals and stoplights are all working perfectly.
 
Next, check the condition and working order of the bow winch and cable, rollers and bunks. These help make launch/retrieval a lot easier. Inspect the winch and cable or strap. Lube the winch as necessary and replace obviously worn straps and cables. Rollers usually have grease fittings; fill them with a marine-grade lubricant. On the bunks, check to make sure the carpet padding is firmly attached, that it is not overly worn down, and that there are no protruding staples, screws or nails sticking through that might damage the hull.
 
Finally, do a walk around the trailer, inspecting all welded and bolted joints for integrity. Cracked or broken welds need fixing immediately, and bolts need to be checked for tightness. Carefully inspect the trailer’s safety chains/cables and the trailer jack. Make sure they all work properly, and lube the jack with a light marine grease. Check your trailer tiedowns to make sure they’re in good working condition. Inspect the springs, axle(s) and the mounting bolts for each, tightening as needed. Check the overall tire condition and inflation pressure as noted earlier.
 

If you make trailer maintenance and care part of your routine at the beginning of each new boating season, or take the time to check things over before a particular trip, you can rest assured there will never be a boating outing cut short due to a mechanical malfunction.
— Bruce W. Smith, author of The Complete Guide to Trailering Your Boat.