How To Prepare Your Watercraft For Safe Transport?

Whether heading to the lake for a leisurely weekend or transporting your boat to a distant marina for a seasonal stay, it is crucial to get your boat or watercraft to its destination safely. Towing a vessel involves more than hitching it up and hitting the road; proper preparation is essential to ensure your vehicle's and watercraft's safety during transit. Here's our guide on how to prepare your watercraft for towing for a smooth and secure journey.

Check The Trailer's Condition

Before you place your boat on the trailer, it's vital to ensure it is in good working condition. Here's what you need to check:

  • Tires: Ensure the trailer tires are correctly inflated and show no signs of wear or dry rot. Consider the weight they will carry and inflate them according to the manufacturer's recommendations.
  • Lights and Signals: Verify that all lights and signals on the trailer are functioning correctly to communicate with other drivers on the road.
  • Brakes: If your trailer has a braking system, check that it is fully operational.
  • Bearings and Axles: Inspect the bearings and axles for any signs of wear or damage. Lubricate them as needed to ensure smooth operation.

Secure The Vessel On The Trailer

Properly securing your boat to the trailer is the most crucial step in preparing for towing:

  • Winch Strap: Check the winch strap or cable for any fraying or damage and replace it if necessary. Tighten the winch strap so the boat sits snugly against the trailer's bow stop.
  • Safety Chains: Attach safety chains between your trailer and the towing vehicle. These are essential for providing a backup connection in case the primary coupling fails.
  • Transom and Stern Ties: Use quality, durable straps to secure the back of the boat to the trailer. Ensure there is no excessive movement, as this can lead to damage during transport.

Prepare The Boat

Preparing your boat involves more than just securing it to the trailer. You also need to prepare the boat's interior and exterior:

  • Cover the Boat: Use a quality boat cover to protect your boat from road debris, dust, and weather conditions.
  • Remove or Secure Loose Items: Store away any loose gear, decorations, or removable parts of the boat to prevent them from flying out or getting damaged during transit. Secure all hatches and doors.
  • Drain All Water: Ensure all water is drained from the boat, including the bilge, to avoid unnecessary weight and potential sloshing around that could unbalance the trailer.

Before hitting the road, make sure you are aware of and comply with any local, state, and federal regulations regarding boat towing, which may include:

  • Weight Limits: Ensure the combined weight of the boat, trailer, and vehicle does not exceed legal towing capacities.
  • Permits: Some states may require special permits for towing boats, especially if your vessel is particularly large or if the transport involves multiple states.
  • Visibility and Width: Ensure the boat does not obstruct your visibility or extend excessively beyond the sides of the trailer without proper flags or markings as required by law.

Final Checks Before Departure

Just before you depart, conduct a final check:

  • Walk-Around Inspection: Conduct a thorough walk-around of the boat and the trailer to ensure everything is secure.
  • Light Check: Turn on your vehicle and check the trailer's lights one more time.
  • Brake Check: Perform a short test drive to check the trailer's brake functionality.


By following these steps, you take control of your towing experience and ensure a safe arrival. You can be confident that your boat will reach the destination safely and be ready for whatever adventure lies ahead. Remember, the key to successful towing is in your hands; it's about as much preparation as the journey. Happy sailing!