Assuming you haven’t yet acquired that palatial lake front estate then you will require a trailer to get your watercraft to your favorite lake or beach. Unfortunately, many personal watercraft users pay too little attention to proper trailer operation and safety. Here are some helpful suggestions to make sure both you and your watercraft arrive safely.
DO practice backing, turning and parking with the trailer attached before you get to the crowded boat ramp. An empty parking lot on the weekend should do just fine. Remember to allow more time to brake, accelerate and pass.
DO check the tire pressure on the trailer AND tow vehicle before venturing out for aquatic fun. Also be sure to check the pressure on your spare trailer tire. You do have a spare, right? While checking the tire pressures also inspect the tires for any signs of unusual tread wear, flat spotting or cracking.
DO routinely check the lug nuts, tires, wheel bearings and trailer lights. It’s a good idea to keep a basic tool kit, grease, flares, fix-a-flat and a spare set of trailer bulbs in the tow vehicle just in case.
DO make sure the tie down straps, safety chains and winch are in proper working order.
DO buy a spare trailer tire if you don’t have one. Leaving your expensive PWC parked on the side of the Interstate while you drive from store to store hoping to find a tiny trailer wheel does not make for a fun weekend. Also don’t assume that the tow vehicles jack will work on the PWC trailer, check to be sure.
DO purchase high quality tie-downs and hooks that are designed for the particular personal watercraft you will be towing.
DO NOT drive anywhere with out making sure the coupler, safety chains and tie-downs are properly attached and secure. Safety chains should be attached in a crisscross fashion under the tongue of the trailer to prevent the tongue from hitting the roadway should the trailer come unfastened.
DO NOT drive anywhere without making certain that the tow ball and coupler are the same size and all bolts and washers are securely fastened. A 2 inch receiver will fit amazingly well on a 1 7/8 inch ballâ€¦.. that is until you hit a bump!
Launching Your Personal Watercraft
DO uncover, remove tie downs, fuel, etc. before heading to the boat ramp. Try and minimize your time on the boat ramp as much as possible. Don’t give the senior citizen waiting to launch his bass boat any additional reasons to hate PWC riders!
DO unplug the trailer lights when you are ready to launch. Shorting out your tow vehicles electrical system does not add to weekend aquatic enjoyment. Be sure to remember to plug them back in before leaving the lake!
DO have a friend guide you down the ramp and launch the PWC if possible. This will enable you to remain in full control of all 4 brakes on the tow vehicle. The parking brake is a wonderful invention but remember those back tires are probably sitting in lake slime.
DO leave the bow pin attached until the craft is actually in the water. Having your pride and joy slide off the trailer before it’s actually in the water should be avoided. Although not likely, a steep boat ramp, an unexpected stop combined with the considerable weight of today’s watercraft make beaching on the boat ramp a very real possibility.
Tip for new trailer drivers. Place your hand on the bottom of the steering wheel when backing down the boat ramp this way if you turn the wheel left the trailer goes left, move right and miracle of miracles it goes right.
DO have a safe and fun time on the water!