When hooking up
Before you put the trailer on the tow ball check first that there are 3 points of contact securing your boat to your trailer. All boats should be connected to their trailers via safety chain, winch rope hook or turnbuckle, at the front and tiedowns at the rear. Tiedowns must be used by law so make sure these are in sound condition, we believe the ratchet type to be the most reliable. Your winch safety chain needs to be firm with very little or no slack forward when your boat is winched hard into your snubber, this means the front of the boat can’t bounce up and down in the snubber which ensures it will be effective in a crash stop situation and prevents the need for a rope or similar on the bow of the boat. If everything is tight it means for a solid secure load which is safer and nicer to tow. A second means of attachment like a turnbuckle is also good as you won’t be wearing out the bearings and gears in your winch while you are travelling.
When you go to put the coupling on the tow ball you need to ensure your ball size on your vehicle matches your coupling. A lot of our trailers have multi fit couplings that are 50mm when the handle is turned to the left and 1 7/8 on the right. Make sure this is selected to correctly match your ball. A rough rule of thumb for draw bar down weight is between 5-10% of the total weight of the rig.
A coupling lock or padlock through the coupling is a great form of security that is easy to apply and a bit of peace of mind when the trailer is sitting at the boat ramp while you were out boating. Most insurance companies request some means of security to guarantee their insurance – in a lot of cases this is a wheel clamp.
Make sure you hook up both your safety chain and trailer light plug and your jockey wheel is securely folded away. Ensure the jockey wheel is wound all the way up as a lot of jockey wheels locate when they are all the way up and this helps the jockey not flop down when travelling. Another tip is to poke your trailer plug through the handle of the coupling, so that if it does happen to come out of the female plug on your vehicle for any reason, then it won’t drag on the road.
If your trailer has 2 safety chains (2000kg & above) these need to be crossed and connected to opposite sides of the tow bar.
It is also a good time to ensure your handbrake on the trailer (if you have brakes) is off so you don’t attempt to drive off without realising this.
If any part of your boat or engine exceeds 1m from the rear of your trailer or specifically your trailer lights, you are required by law to have a prop flag or something similar attached. If you are travelling at night you are required to have a flashing light attached also. Remember, you also need to have a light directed at your number plate – DMW Trailers have this built into the rear facing LED lights which is why we hang our number plates underneath the lights.