It’s cold out there. I don’t like that. I am a boater. I like warm weather. So it is this time of the year that I start thinking about hooking the trailer up to my truck and heading south for a little R&R with my favorite watercraft in a warmer climate. The thought of cruising around in warm blue waters, bright sunshine and enjoying 80-plus degree days surely causes some excitement. Here are a just few towing tips to help you get to your mid-winter destination safely:

  • Tow vehicles should be in good condition – Towing puts extra stress on your vehicle. The drive train, brakes and cooling system all get a good workout. Issues caused by lack of maintenance could become big problems leading to you, your vehicle and your boat being disabled on the side of the highway. Make sure you maintain your vehicle well and if you are not mechanically inclined, have a certified mechanic check it out before your trip.
  • Trailers should be in good condition – Some of us only use our trailers when we go on vacation and want to take our toys with us. This means that these trailers sit for weeks or even months between uses. During this time, corrosion sets in, tires dry rot and brakes and lights mysteriously stop working. Treat your trailer the same way as your tow vehicle. Have it checked out before your trip.
  • Adhere to tow vehicle specifications – Vehicle manufacturers publish maximum towing capacities for a reason. Exceeding these capacities is not a good idea. Doing so can put you and your family in peril. It also can cause damage to the tow vehicle itself. When calculating the weight that your vehicle is pulling, be sure to include the weight of the trailer, the boat, and anything that is in the boat. This includes fuel, water, fishing gear, etc.
  • Take it easy – I’ll admit it. I am a really spirited driver, but not when I am towing. I have driven a considerable number of miles towing a boat heavier than my tow vehicle. You just cannot drive the same way as when you are not towing. Everything must be done at a slower pace to maintain a level of safety. Turns take longer. Stops take longer. You must always keep a watchful eye out for other drivers as well. It is amazing how many people do not seem to realize that the extra 8,000 pounds you have means you can’t stop as quickly as they can stop.
  • Get some rest – You never want to drive when you are tired, but especially when towing. Tired drivers have slower reaction times and sometimes miss things altogether. This is not a good combination when you are already encumbered by a heavy load.
  • Do final checks – Once you are all hooked up and ready to go, perform your final departure checks. Make sure trailer lights are working. Adjust mirrors, check all tie downs, check air in tires, etc.

If you keep these tips in mind you should be spending your day on the water instead of spending your day on the side of the road. Happy and safe boating!