A boat cruising through the water in Muskoka near Toronto Ontario

Towing Your Boat Trailer

May 05, 2020

We can’t all be lucky enough to live near the water. Most water adventures require a certain amount of hauling equipment across the land before the excitement begins. And the last thing you want is to arrive at the water only to find poor towing technique has ruined the day or worse, your boat! Check out our tips below, visit our Gordon Bay Marine location for Muskoka Lakes, Lake Joseph, and Toronto for all your towing needs.

Be Safe When Hitching Your Boat

Above all, you want to keep yourself and other drivers on the road safe. Taking a few extra minutes to make sure your boat is properly hitched is paramount. This includes making sure your towing vehicle can support the weight of your boat. Be sure to also keep in mind tongue weight. Tongue weight is the pressure or weight placed on the trailer tongue. It should be between 10 and 15 percent of the gross towing weight (GTW) or the weight of everything minus the towing vehicle’s weight. When hitching the boat, you’ll need to follow these five steps:

  • Align the hitch and ball, then lower the trailer hitch down over the ball

  • Close the latch and insert the safety pin (NEVER tow without the safety pin in place)

  • Cross the safety chains and attach them to the towing vehicle

  • If your trailer has brakes, attach the safety line to the towing vehicle

  • Plug in the lights, and run a full check to make sure they're all working

Double check to make sure everything is secure. If you’ve never towed a boat before, consider a dry run in advance and towing your boat in a parking lot for practice. Don’t tell yourself you know what you’re doing if you don’t know.

Be Smart with Your Towing Route

Plan your travel route in advance, keeping in mind you’ll be towing expensive equipment behind you. Don’t pick the fastest route, if it’s not in your best interests. You’ll also want to choose the proper towing vehicle ahead of time: if you’re towing a small boat over flat land, a smaller pickup will probably suffice, but if you’re towing a larger boat over rocky terrain, you might want to invest in a large pickup or SUV. Use traffic information to avoid construction and gridlocks (useful advice for when you’re not towing, too). And remember you’re towing expensive equipment if you have to stop for the night as you wouldn’t want to lose your boat altogether. If you stop for gas or food, make sure you have easy access back to your route. In short, think ahead and plan ahead. While spontaneous road trips are fun, there are plenty of advantages to having a plan, as well.

Also consider how your driving habits will need to change in order to safely tow a boat trailer behind your vehicle. It will take longer to accelerate so don’t try to compensate by slamming on the gas to get up to speed. You probably won’t be able to use your rear-view mirror, so be comfortable primarily using your side-view mirrors. Make wide turns and leave extra room between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you. Pro-tip, if high winds push your boat around, lift your foot off the accelerator to minimize the effect. Do not step on the brakes.

Be Kind to Yourself When You’re on the Road

As tempting as it is to try and push through another hour or two, if you feel your body is telling you to take a break: listen. Make stops to rest or eat a proper meal. Spruce up the driver’s seat for maximum comfort; cushions, heating and cooling, anything to make the trip more enjoyable, especially if you’ll be on the road a while. And, most importantly, if conditions become dangerous and you don’t feel comfortable continuing on the road you’re on, pull over until conditions become safe again, or find an alternate route. Prioritize your safety and the safety of the drivers around you.

Here at Golden Bay Marine, we want your water adventures to be memorable for all the right reasons and we’ll do everything we can to help you achieve that. If you’re looking for boat towing equipment or advice, visit our dealership for Muskoka Lakes, Lake Joseph, and Toronto, Ontario. Let us know how we can help you reach your destination like a pro.