Ready for Launch
When taking your boat on the road, be sure to follow the finer points of trailering...
Launch/Ramp Resource- Boat U.S., a large association of American boat owners, maintains an extensive online database of launch-ramp locations around the country (www.boatus.com/trailerclub/locator.asp). It can be a very handy resource the next time you are planning a boat trip that begins with a road trip.
Where to? A handful of lakes are consistently ranked among the best in the country for their boater-friendliness. List-toppers include Arizona's Lake Havasu, Missouri's giant Lake of the Ozarks and Lake Houghton, in northern Michigan. Houghton is sometimes touted as America's finest, with great views, great fishing and quality campsites.
Trailering Basics- Be sure that the coupler, the hitch and your vehicle's hitch ball are all the same size. It's not safe to tow a boat using a hitch ball that's too small. Nor should you tow your boat without tying it down securely. The overall load of the boat and trailer should not exceed 85 percent of your vehicle's tow rating—and remember to factor in the weight of fuel and any water or gear your boat may be holding.
Maintenance- Properly maintain your trailer, which includes checking the wheels and brakes for wear; re-tighten lug nuts and check tire pressure often. Have a buddy visually check your trailer 's brake lights before venturing out.
At the Ramp- it helps to back up towards the water on a slight left-to-right angle; this makes it much easier to watch your trailer using the driver 's side mirror. Also, a little-known tip: Take your trailer for a short drive after it gets dunked and before parking it for the duration of your getaway—its brakes will get a chance to more thoroughly dry out and will be less likely to rust over time.
Take your time- Map a route that avoids poor-quality roads and, as much as possible, requires the fewest turns. Prep your boat with all the necessary tie-downs and drive slowly and cautiously. Both accelerating and slowing down take longer when you are towing, due to the added weight. But, remember, there's no rush; you'll never make it to every patch of blue under the sun, so you may as well savor the ones that float your boat.