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Towing A Trailer For The First Time


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G'day Domza ,

First thing to master , is if you want the trailer to turn one way , turn the steering wheel the opposite way.

If you get the trailer more than 45 degrees from straight , stop , pull forward and start again. Chances are , on a ramp , you wont recover it in time.

Dont rush it . Very few people get it right first time out. If it keeps going wrong , dont try to do it faster , that only makes it worse. Stop , take a deep breath , think about where you want the trailer to go , and try again slowly.

Then practice it again.

And Again.

And Again !


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I will be towing a trailer for a short distance for the first time on Wednesday and was after some tips for reversing

It will be on a quiet ramp, so i wont be slowing anyone else down.


Matey, my advice is to not try and reverse a trailer on the ramp for the first time. Even if it is quiet, the ramp slopes down and is narrow, and could take you ages when all you want to do is go fishing.

Practise somewhere else first. Look out the back and remember you are PUSHING the trailer and think about where the back of the car is going and how it is pushing the trailer.

I know some people that just cant do it hahahaha..... no matter how much they practise.

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Hey Domza

Take everything slow, real slow and don't get distracted.

Reversing is only a small part you will also need to get a launch routine going.

Below is a list of checks I have for launching at a ramp.

Some of these items may seem unimportant but I have been done by all of them at some time or another.

Make a routine that works for you and don't let others interfere even if they mean well - there can be a stuff up and a miss communication.

Develop your own list and launching will become a breeze.

1 Shoes for ramp on

2 Check Boat ramp for holes and end of ramp

3 Winch Chain Off

4 Winch handle out and ready

5 Bung in and Tight

6 Motor Lock Off

7 Check Battery level ie is there sufficient power

8 Undo tie down strap and put in car

9 Fuel Cap On

10 Check Fuel Level

11 Pump Fuel Bulb

12 Check Fuel Line

13 Rod holders in

14 Rods in Holders

15 Power On / unplug trailer lights before going in the water

16 Fenders ready

17 Kids / people out of the way

18 Reverse slowly till back rollers in water

19 Hand Brake on - tight

20 Loosen winch and disengage clicker / ratchet

21 Unhook winch strap clip

22 Push and Lift boat till loose

23 Climb on - clean feet

24 Trim motor down in water

25 Start motor in neutral

26 Reverse slowly and go to jetty

27 Ropes Stern and Bow ready

28 Tie up on Jetty fenders in place

29 Let motor idle a while

30 Park and Lock car

31 Ariels up and On

32 Double check Safety gear

hope it helps



Edited by inhlanzi
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The best advice I've been given about backing trailers is 2 fold. My fater inlaw tought me that you don't steer trailers you chase them. Sounds simple & is but not quite so easy. The other is when reversing hold the steering wheel at the bottom. If you want the trailer to go to the left you move your hand to the left. ie clockwise. If you want it to go to the right move your hand to the right ie anti clockwise. Small movements and go slow. Stuff it up go forward & start again. Be patient & good luck.


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Have someone else with you if you can just to keep an eye out for you so you don't damage anything or your boat. Will stop anything getting knocked off while you park the car. Do it a couple of times by yourself with a mate before the whole family comes down as that way you'll be confident and have a routine sorted and give people with you confidence. Never allow friends , partners to yell at you and give advice as you will have to work it out for yourself by practise. Nice and slow- steady.

Buy a spare winch handle and leave it in the boot or your boats "go bag" as they are always left at ramps etc or stolen.

Watch a couple of others this week before you take your boat down so you see how they do it.

There is no short cuts - use the list by another member above and stick to it- I don't leave mine idling but that's up to you. Handbrake and in gear/ park for me. I also have a wet pack waterproof bag that I put phone and keys wallet etc in as I arrive at the ramp there is nothing worse than losing stuff in the drink and a lanyard clips bag near the helm. Have dropped phones and wallets while slipping on ramp - painful in more ways than one. The bag is sealed before I step away from the car. If your boat has keys - make sure you have a spare and your original on a quality floating keyring- keep a spare at home.

Even after doing it heaps you can have a brain explosion one day so don't let it get to you and just go forward line it up and line it up again. Slowly does it.

Work out how far in the trailer needs to go as different boats and trailers require slightly different methods. To tyre , to rim , to hub etc. If your boat is a standard one tell us and I'm sure someone here will own a sister boat and tell you how far they go back.

Ask for help if you need it!!!!! Nice people like raiders will help and a-holes are a-holes so who cares about them andthei comments

Good on you for having the brains to pick a quiet ramp and a quiet time. It just gets easier and easier so persist.

Just take everything slow slow and slow tick off the list and it will work out.

If you have young kids don't let them out of the car till you are walking them to the boat with jackets on. In the past 10 years I have seen heaps nearly get run over or fall in / slip at ramps while dad was parking the car or distracted!!

PS while driving to the ramp - remember you have a trailer on- merge really carefully and slowly , leave plenty of distance between you and other cars as it will take you longer to stop and at corners take a slghtly wider line so the trailer doesn't mount the curb or gutter. Stay out of tight streets and areas that will make it ard to turn around in. Don't forget to check your towball is fitted properly, safety chain is attached and lights are working before you go.

Edited by pelican
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thanks for all the tips guy, I will be taking 3 mates so they will help me out alot.

also, i have launched my 5metre half cab plenty of times, just never towed it before!

once again thanks, and wish me luck for tomorrow (hope the rain holds off!! :1fishing1: )

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Gee I hope you don't have a nervous breakdown after reading all the advice.

Just a reminder - DON'T FORGET the boat is behind you while driving allow for the extra length.

It is easy to forget it is there when changing lanes or passing other vehicles.

HINT - Tollways if your toll fee is more than car and trailer, creep forward as much as possible you may still make the small trailer fee. Our boat 4.8m and 4wd just makes it in but we have to lean backwards to pay.

inhlanzi great list of to do's. We also ad to the list DO NOT leave spare tyre on trailer and padlock trailer and wheels with good quality chains and locks.

Have a great time Dom.

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yep the safety chain should be left till the trailers in the water and dont forget to put on before you drive

back up the ramp otherwise something bad can happen,I saw a brand new trailcraft being retrieved and as

he got up the ramp the boat flew off the back and onto the road,then they decided they would just winch it

back on ,the noise of alloy scraping on the tar was unbearable.


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