How To Transport Your Pontoon Across The Country
You should be comfortable trailering and mooring your pontoon boat by now. But what about allowing her to roam free on extended trips?
It’s one thing to launch from your neighborhood marina, but if you’ve ever wanted to visit a different lake or region, you’ll need to take extra precautions before embarking on your journey.
Transporting a Pontoon vs. a Traditional Boat
The pontoon is undoubtedly less aerodynamic than a V-hull. The drag on the road may be reduced by lowering the bimini top and, some say, even eliminating windshields.
I recall once assisting my parents with the installation of windows, and we felt it was a little excessive. It is more important to pay attention to the pontoon’s beam. You must pay close attention to curves to avoid hitting a curb or (as I have been known to do) obliterating a stop sign.
Make sure your trailer and vehicle are ready to go
Basic care is required
On these trips, fundamental car maintenance should not be overlooked. A mechanic should inspect the gearbox and cooling systems.
Bearings and tires
Check all of the tires on the trailer as well as the car that will be pulling it. Make sure they’re all well-tread. Replace them if you’re not sure. Check the pounds per square inch (PSI) suggested by your vehicle’s service handbook to ensure they’re properly inflated. Also, don’t forget to check your spare tires and get a jack.
Because many pontoon boat trailers have smaller wheels, it’s important to keep an eye on the tires and bearings. Grease and maybe repack the wheel bearings. Tighten the lug nuts with a lug wrench or socket driver to verify nothing is loose.
Check to see if the trailer’s lights are working. You risk submerging the lights every time you reverse your trailer and launch into water, decreasing their life.
Always keep an eye out for your blind zones and the automobiles going by. If your vehicle lacks dual side view mirrors, you may always use convex mirrors or a universal clip-on trailering mirror to replace them.
When going on a short journey, it’s customary to use the trailer hitch as-is. For further security on longer travels, chains should be used to secure the ball to the hitch.
Bimini and Secure Equipment
That inflated towable will blow away if you hit the appropriate pothole. Worse, it might result in an accident, endangering people behind you. Securing all of your gear is essential, especially while traveling at 55+ mph on the highway rather than the regular speed. Even if you don’t think it will fly away, secure everything. I’ve witnessed countless highway accidents caused by this sort of carelessness, all of which might have been avoided.
If you haven’t yet purchased one, have a look at this cover comparison. The bimini should be folded and stowed in the boot in the same way. It’s also a good idea to stop at a service station now and again to examine all snaps and straps to make sure the cover doesn’t fly off.
Check the weight distribution and stowage
Bucking and Fishtailing
Fishtailing can result in jackknifing, which is extremely dangerous. It is critical to distribute the weight evenly on both sides to avoid getting jackknifed.
Also, make sure that the majority of the weight (about 75% of the total) is positioned front of the trailer’s axle. The rationale for putting 75% of the weight in front of the axle is that putting too much weight behind the axle can completely alter steering.
You also don’t want bucking, just like you don’t want fishtailing. Front and stern tie downs are standard on a well-built trailer. Invest in a set of ratchet straps to assist tie down your boat and keep it from bucking, especially if it has a bigger engine.
Take a test drive
Take a short drive on the nearby highway once you’ve secured your equipment and put your goods away to get a sense for the weight distribution. Take your pontoon to a weigh station if you can. It’s critical to understand your vehicle’s weight limit and make sure you’re not putting too much strain on your transmission.
It is critical to have a vehicle capable of hauling the pontoon’s weight; nevertheless, if the weight exceeds the limit, consider leaving less necessary stuff at home for this journey. Check out our guide to see how much a typical pontoon boat weighs.
Plan a route and familiarize yourself with the rules of the road for trailers
Plan a route
Towing a trailer is tough enough. Consider how tough it will be to manage it if you make a mistake turn and are forced to navigate tight streets. Alternatively, you may come across road construction. Any additional tension may be avoided by planning a route ahead of time.
Make a list of the states you’ll be passing through. When it comes to towing a boat, each state has its own set of laws of the road and trailering restrictions.
While most states allow an 8’6″ beam, any broader than that may need obtaining a wide-load permit. The BoatUS website is a fantastic location to look out state trailering legislation. To learn more, go to the site and choose the state or states you’ll be going through from the drop-down selection “Trailering Laws.”
Are you covered by insurance?
It’s also a good idea to think about insurance. Make sure to read your insurance policy’s fine print first. Road towing insurance is included in some policies, and some, but not all, motor insurance policies cover damage to anything being towed.
If you’re still unsure, contact your insurance carrier to learn more about coverage (both on the road and at your destination’s body of water) in the event that something goes wrong. To be on the safe side.
Overnight Precautions and Parking at Hotels
If you have a long journey ahead of you and need to stay the night, make a reservation at a hotel with plenty of parking and a well-lit parking lot.
Ask the front desk when you check in if you can have a room with a view of the parking lot; I know it gives me peace of mind and helps me sleep better knowing I can gaze out the window.
Back the boat into a spot where it won’t be pulled from the tow, with the tongue facing away from the parking lot. If you decide to unhitch to eat, be sure you won’t be blocked in by other vehicles while you’re gone.
Safeguard valuables and make sure all locks are in good working order. A lock for your hitch may also be purchased.
Keep an eye out for weather and wind advisories
Understand the terrain and weather conditions
Hauling in strong winds or at high altitudes might be difficult. Large vehicle drivers, such as tractor-trailer drivers, are aware of when conditions are extreme enough to require a stop. It’s safer if you do as well. If the weather seems bad, take a break or park someplace for the duration. If you start wobbling into their lane, it’s not worth it, and it makes everyone around you feel nervous.
Even if there aren’t any severe gusts, the drafts created by heavier cars might cause you to veer off the road and into another lane. If a heavier truck passes on one side, the wind will push you to the opposite side, causing you to swing back even harder. To neutralize this impact, prepare by driving slightly to the side where the larger vehicle is approaching, then away again. Be aware of other cars on the road and anticipate their movements.
Invasive species and hitchhikers must be cleaned and removed
You never know who could have attached themselves to your craft as a hitchhiker. However, these tenacious, non-native speciesâ€”and occasionally unwelcome larvaeâ€”could pose a serious threat to your area. They have the potential to harm the fish and other living things that live in the waterways where you live. When it comes to pontoons, tiny kayaks, and even firewood, I’m always cautious.
To limit the risk of infection, follow these simple guidelines from Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers: All visible muck, plants, fish, and animals should be cleaned. Remove all water from the equipment before transportation. Check to see that everything is clean and dry. Visit ProtectYourWaters.net for additional information and to learn more about aquatic hitchhikers.
Remember to allow adequate space between yourself and the vehicles ahead of you when driving so that you can stop in time. Keep an eye on your mirrors and utilize your turn signals. Also, don’t slam on the brakes. On the road, use common sense. Above all, don’t be apprehensive about making the trip!