Whether you have chosen a boat, sailing dinghy, cruiser or watercraft, one thing is certain, you will need to launch and recover and this means using a trailer.
Now you have probably deliberated long and hard about which craft to buy and it is tempting not to pay too much attention to the choice of trailer. A wrong decision however can cause hours of misery – some of it by the side of the road! To avoid such problems, let’s look at some of the main points to consider when buying a trailer.
The Legal Questions
What weight can my vehicle tow?
Vehicle handbooks are a starting point, and caravanning magazines and websites can be a good link to information resources. Larger trailer companies will also be able to advise.
Do I have the correct driving licence?
It will tell you on the back of your driving licence, but if you passed your test after 1st January 1977 you may need to take a trailer towing test. You can check on www.direct.gov.uk or speak to a reputable trailer dealer.
Where are you going to use it, on inland waters or the sea, launching from a slip or the beach?
If you are going to use your craft on a regular basis then the fastest way in and out of the water is the roller type. This design lets you reverse to the water’s edge and launch the craft without submerging the trailer or yourself! Recovery is just as easy. Bunk trailers need to be submerged and the craft floated off which does involve you getting into the water however this is still popular with many sailors.
What kind of suspension system is best?
The majority of marine trailers have independent suspension and of these, a rubber torsion system will give a softer, smoother ride. What other performance features will be useful? Sea water accelerates corrosion so bearing savers are well worth fitting. A new development is a flushing system, which allows you to connect a garden hose and flush the brakes with fresh water removing salt deposits.
Do I buy new or used?
Used can be an economical route, but check the price against new, that it has been regularly serviced and it has not been stolen!
If buying used, is the trailer road legal and U.K. specification?
Most American marine trailers are illegal even if the coupling and brakes have been converted to U.K. specification How much do I want to spend? Whatever you spend, the trailer must be safe and legal then it is down to performance. For instance, roller models do cost more but will save a lot of time and effort, they also have a better second hand value.
What make is the trailer and do the manufacturers have dealers and service centres in all areas, near your home, leisure area and holiday area?
Contact the manufacturer at this point and ask. If you struggle to get information now, imagine how you would feel if your trailer was out of use.
Finally, what can the dealer, broker or owner tell you about the trailer?
Do ask questions based on the points highlighted above and remember, that a carefully chosen trailer can positively add to your boating fun.
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