It’s already a brutal winter in parts of the country. If your boat and trailer are going to spend the snow season outside exposed to the elements, Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) has five tips to protect your investment and prevent winter’s bitter effects from taking hold and causing problems down the road:
Water is enemy #1: Keeping the boat and trailer rig in a slightly bow-up position will allow water to drain. Don’t forget to remove drain plug and tie it to the ignition key where you will find it in the spring. Yes, do this exactly as instructed. Now. You will lose it otherwise – trust us, we know. Also ensure that the boat’s cover is tight and periodically check inside throughout the winter – just to make sure no water is accumulating and that no critters have moved in.
A little spray will do you good: Spraying water-and-dirt displacing lubricants such as Boeshield T-9 on metal trailer roller assemblies, winch gears and electrical connections will keep moisture away and rust at bay. Now may also be the time to take care of any rust spots on the metal trailer frame: sand, prime and paint.
Best boat theft prevention tip in the world: If you’re storing your boat in the driveway, turn it around 180 degrees, with the tongue facing towards the house. Not only will this keep your neighbors guessing all winter long about that name on the transom, but it will make the job harder for a thief to steal your boat and that’s the real name of the game here. Adding a lock on the trailer hitch only improves your odds the bad guy will look somewhere else.
What to do about boat trailer tires: In addition to being a theft deterrent, removing the tires and storing them inside the garage will keep the sun from damaging them. With the tires off, this may also a good time to repack the bearings. Block the trailer’s frame and secure plastic (contractor grade) trash bags over the hubs and brakes to keep them dry. If tires won’t be removed, position the trailer so that the tires rest on a piece of plywood or plank to prevent dry rot, as parking on grass can hasten a tire’s demise. Cover tires (again with plastic bags or covers) to keep the sun off and hubs and brakes dry. To avoid flat spots from happening, move the trailer periodically a few inches throughout the winter.
Don’t park under trees: Howling winter storms can snap off tree limbs. Besides adding unsightly stains, falling leaves and needles can make their way inside blocking transom drain holes, making your boat into a nice bathtub as it slowly fills with water over the winter.
Like an auto club for boaters and anglers, BoatUS offers Trailer Assist roadside assistance program, the only national roadside assistance service just for boat owners. In addition to BoatUS or BoatUS Angler membership of $24, for just $14 annually BoatUS’ “Unlimited” Trailer Assist will tow both a broken down boat trailer and tow vehicle (while towing) up to 100 miles to a location of choice. Flat tire service, jump-starts, lock out and boat ramp winching service are also included. For more information visit www.BoatUS.com/towing/trailerabout.asp or call 800-395-2628.
About BoatUS and Trailer Assist:
BoatUS – Boat Owners Association of The United States – is the nation’s leading advocate for recreational boaters providing over half a million members with a wide array of consumer services, including roadside “Trailer Assist” just for trailer boaters that provides 24/7 roadside assistance for trailer breakdowns and tow vehicles. Also included is an online launch ramp locator, two special editions of BoatUS Trailering magazine and six E-editions containing great solutions from the “Trailering Guys,” valuable seasonal maintenance tips, useful trailering techniques and new product and destination reviews and more. For membership information visit http://www.BoatUS.com/towing/trailerabout.asp or call 800-245-6923.