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Used Boat? Don't Forget To Check The Trailer

Trailering Tips

Series: Oldies But Goodies | Story 4

Buying a used boat is a great way to get into boating, and there are a lot of good bargains out there. When you check out a boat before buying, don't forget to examine the trailer.

First, check to see if the trailer is NMMA-certified. That will mean that it meets industry guidelines for safety and quality.

Then check the weight limit that the trailer can handle and make sure that the total weight of the boat, motor, and the gear you're putting in there doesn't exceed that number.

Check the trailer for rust and cracks and check for any sign that there has been major repair in the past.

Don't forget to inspect the tires. If they look bad, add the price of a new set to the cost of the boat.

Inspect the bearings, too and make sure they have enough grease.

It's hard to inspect the bunks or rollers while the boat is on the trailer, but you can make sure the boat is level and that the bunks or rollers are adjusted right. You should also hook up the trailer and check to make sure the lights all work.

Be sure to check brake lights and blinkers, too.

In Case Of Emergency

Just once have we had an emergency with a boat, and that one time was actually on the highway on the way home from the lake. The wheel flew right off the trailer, sailed between some guys on motorcycles, and disappeared into the desert.

We were incredibly lucky that no one was hurt, but needless to say, we were stopped cold. You don't go far with only one wheel.

I called our insurance company, and they gave me the name of a towing company. I called them and explained our dilemma, and they told me they would have a guy out there right away.

Hours later we were still sitting on the side of the highway, but now we were thirsty and tired and hot and longing to get home to use the bathroom. When the tow truck finally showed up, it was the wrong kind: He couldn't handle a boat on a trailer.

By now my cell phone battery was running down, and I was getting anxious. About four hours after the incident, the correct tow truck finally showed up.

Our dealer had agreed to stay open to allow them to drop the boat off, so we went on home. Hours later, the dealer called to tell us that the boat still wasn't there.

When I called the tow company, I was informed that they were being "very careful" towing the boat. The girl kindly offered to have the boat towed to THEIR yard, and they would then take it to our dealer the next morning.

I gratefully agreed. Major mistake.

The next day, the nice lady wasn't there and instead there was some bully with a gangster name and an accent to match. He told me that there was no way they were taking my boat anywhere without charging another towing fee.

Several calls between him and my insurance company got us exactly nowhere, and the insurance company finally paid the ransom, although they promised to sue.

This whole incident was a mess. Here's what I learned from it:

1. Always check your lug nuts before you drive off. In our case, the bolts had sheared off, so there was nothing we could have done. But if yours are loose at all, fix it before you take off.

2. Keep your cell phone charged up and put an adapter wire in your tow vehicle. That way, if your phone starts to run down, you can plug it in and keep going.

3. Ask your insurance company who they use in your area and check the towing companies out ahead of time. From my story and from some of the news stories you have probably heard in the past, there are quite a few towing companies out there that will take advantage of your distress.

4. Make sure that your boat insurance covers towing and damages on the road while in tow. Our damages were covered by warranty, luckily.

5. Keep your insurance company numbers with you at all times. Luckily, our carrier had given us a card with our policy number and the phone number on it, and I had this with me.

6. Always carry water with you.

7. Boat insurance is worth every dime.


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