Regardless of how far I drive, I have had to customize my trailer to make it fast, effortless, and simple to both load and unload my skiff on the boat ramp. With a few inexpensive modifications to your trailer and some common boat ramp etiquette, your fishing trip can begin and end on a pleasant note.
The most important piece of trailering equipment are the wheel bearings and hubs
. Annual checkups or changes are required to assure that you will not have a problem on the road. Bearings are critical to trailering success and fairly easy to change yourself if you don't mind an extremely dirty job. If the process is intimidating, have a reputable shop do the work for you. The life of wheel bearings can be extended by never submerging them. If saltwater gets into your bearings, they will be shot before you know it and when you least expect it.
Installing an electric winch
on your trailer is important and the best investment a trailer owner can make. Winches are available from boating supply houses and are capable of loading up to a 30-foot boat. I use a trailer with rollers to make the process so easy that I only touch my tires to the water. Most electric winches have a brake that is capable of holding the boat on the trailer while trailering, but all trailer owners should use a second safety chain or turnbuckle to secure the boat to the trailer. The switch is usually predrilled to accept a cord for remote control. I run the cord to the terminal end of the trailer where it is easily in reach from the bow of the boat. With this you will be able to load your boat alone in most weather conditions. Simply hook the winch cable to the tow ring and pull the cord. Your boat will begin loading while you are still on the bow.
Some people elect to remain on the bow while the boat is loading, others prefer to exit and walk up to the winch to finish. A 2 x 6 board installed on the trailer simplifies this task and eliminates that unexpected dip in the water. Many guides attach grip tape to the board.
Once the boat is on the trailer, immediately exit the ramp and pull your truck and trailer well away from the access lane. Transom Savers & Tiedowns
to secure the boat to the trailer are a good idea. Tie a loop knot in the terminal end of the strap big enough to put your foot in and then cut off the remaining portion. Burn the newly cut tag to prevent fraying. Leave the strap on the empty trailer when the boat is unloaded to prevent loss and expedite this process. When you are ready to drive away, toss the strap over the boat, attach it to the trailer, put your foot in the loop and use your weight to tighten the strap.
No matter how easy it is to load or unload a boat, etiquette plays a large role in your, and others, enjoyment of the day. When you arrive at the boat ramp, whether it is busy or not, stop well short of the area used for backing. Use this area to prepare the boat. Remove the strap, put in the plug, remove the safety chain, and prepare the boat for fishing. Make sure that you, your party and your boat are 100% ready to put the boat in BEFORE you back down the ramp. If the ramp is wide enough for two or more trucks, pull as far to one side of the ramp as possible. It is very good etiquette to pull to one side of the ramp even if there are no other people around. Sometimes 5 trucks pull in at once and are ready to go quickly.
Avoid confrontations by allowing room for someone else even if there are no other trucks present at the time. Launch the boat and tie it up leaving plenty of room for other boats to use the ramp and dock. Get the truck off the ramp as quickly as you can. Use the same courtesy when leaving. Put the boat on the trailer and drive well away from the ramp and put everything up.
Tempers flare at boat ramps and people are excited about getting on the water. Use extra courtesy and follow these tips and your fishing days will begin and end without an unpleasant incident.
Shop Cabela's entire selection of Trailer Accessores and make sure you are ready for this boating season!