Volume 12, Issue 24 ~ June 10-16, 2004
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Chesapeake Outdoors
by C.D. Dollar

Avoid the Trail of Tears when Trailering
In some instances, perhaps, I could be rightly accused of not knowing of what I speak, although that has never stopped me before. On the topic of trailering boats, however, I can confidently say that I have a wealth — or at least a small fortune — of experience.

We’ve all heard horror stories, or humorous anecdotes, depending upon whether the event happened to you or your buddy, of cruising, oh, let’s say, across the Bay Bridge, only to glance out the truck window to see your boat trailer sidle up beside you.

In the infancy of my trailer-boat days, I dragged around a 17-foot Boston Whaler atop a trailer so consumed with the natural processes of corrosion it was hard to know where the sound metal ended and the rust started. Lights were in decent working order, though they had about as much electric capacity as the Appalachians in the 1900s. But my runs were short — less than three miles to the local ramp — so the possibility of catastrophe was greatly diminished.

Following the evolutionary path of all boat owners toward bigger and better craft, I found immense joy in a 22-foot beast of a boat, a vintage 1972 Mako 22 with clean lines and a sharp bow. It was both heavy and wide, and it required a trailer to meet these physical traits. The tandem axle with surge brakes, circa 1985, was adequate, but it required gentle and diligent attention.

I’d trailered that boat as far south as the Potomac River, and it was during these trips I really began to understand the necessity of preventive maintenance. Replacing taillights in the dark is as far from fun as eating sand.

In following years, I’ve purchased several other boats and expanded my range. I caravaned my power catamaran with like-minded anglers to the famed Florida Keys, and, for my trouble, suffered two blowouts before I got out of Virginia.

My current boat, a cherry Jones Brothers Cape Fisherman, came with a tandem-axle LoadRite trailer stout enough to carry a crane. It has all kinds of standard safety gear, including disc brakes.

I’m one of those fishermen who own a trailerable boat for the explicit purpose of being able to travel 200 miles to fish waters sight unseen. The checklist tips below cannot guarantee successful fishing, but it can make for a much safer ride. Like the prudent mariner, the conscientious road warrior makes a list and checks it twice.
  • Check cold tire pressure on both trailer and truck;
  • Tow the boat level with hitch height;
  • Ensure lug nuts are tightened to the torque setting recommended in the owner’s manual;
  • Tilt the engine or outdrive in upright position and make sure it’s secure;
  • Secure the coupler with a lock or a nut and bolt;
  • Check the wiring and test circuits by having a buddy stand behind the boat for a visual check;
  • Secure safety chains and emergency brake cables;
  • Secure all equipment inside boat, (or else you’ll be wrestling with a local yokel for your large Rubbermaid box of camping gear that went awry as cars whiz by on Route 50).

Fish Are Biting
According to Ryan at Bunky’s Charter’s in Solomons, monster croaker can be found from Seahorse Beach past Drum Point. The hardheads are also active from the mouth of the Choptank to Thomas Point. Some of the charter fleet is now chumming for rockfish around Buoy 72, while other fishermen are still trolling.

© COPYRIGHT 2004 by New Bay Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.