Recent Questions about Trailering Your Boat
How do you measure tongue weight? The easiest way I know for a Class 1 hitch (Up to 2,000 lb. Gross trailer weight (GTW) and 200 lb., tongue weight) is to use your bathroom scales. (It is best to do this when your wife is out shopping.) Once you have adjusted the weight distribution of the boats equipment to bring the trailer into balance and give the correct tongue weight, it is unlikely to change unless you load your boat with all your camping gear and the kitchen sink. This is not a good thing to do because a boat is designed to be supported by the water over its entire bottom surface and remember it is not a utility trailer. As a rule of thumb, the optimum tongue weight is between 5-10% of the GTW. In any event, never exceed the carmakers specifications. Check your owners manual to be sure.
Never use a light duty hitch, for example one that is attached to the bumper alone. Your hitch should be attached to the vehicles frame by welding or by using bolts with lock washers. And dont forget the safety chains. You may also need to add heavy duty springs and shocks to your car to cope with the added weight, but as I said before, never exceed your cars rating. Some manufacturers, especially front wheel drive imports, prohibit towing trailers of any description.
How far into the water should I go when loading or launching? When you back your trailer into the water, water may enter the trailers electrical system and cause a short circuit in the connected cars electrical system. The resulting blown fuse will leave you without brakes if your trailer has electric brakes, or at the least, no running or brake lights for your drive home. Remember, "water proof", when it comes to trailer lights, usually means they will stay dry only if you dont submerse them.
It is OK to put your tires into the water, but not good to submerge the wheel hubs. If your hubs collect water, especially salt water, you can kiss the wheel bearings goodbye, and very quickly I might add. Remember seeing all those boat trailers along the side of the road with only one wheel? Chances are the owner neglected to rinse the hubs with fresh water after every dunking and repack the bearings every couple of weeks. There is a product available at most boat stores called the Bearing Bra, which is a tight fitting cup to fit over the wheel hub and is held on by a spring. This is quite effective and will extend the life of the wheel bearings. But dont just forget about them. It is important to repack them at least a couple of times a season.
Another reason not to submerge your trailer wheels is because of possible damage to the trailers brake linings. If you do happen to submerge your brakes, when you pull the trailer out of the water, drag the brakes on the way to the parking lot. This will help dry them and make your ride home a bit safer.
Also see the Basic Boating Safety Course