Choosing the right boat trailer

Boat trailers allow boats to be transported on land launched into the water. The use of a boat trailer is subject to regulations specific to the payload of the trailer and the towing vehicle.

Motor boat trailers are equipped with rollers that make it easier to get in and out of the water. Direct launching or reloading of the boat is possible by backing the trailer far enough into the water that the trailer rollers are flush with the water. A winch mounted at the front of the trailer is used to control the descent or hoist the boat on the trailer. Some trailers are also tiltable.

Sailboat trailers are equipped with an adjustable cradle and a keel support. Launching sailboats with a keel that is not fully retractable can only be done with the help of a crane.

Storing your boat on a trailer saves money on marina slip fees and bottom paint repairs. However, boats sitting for long periods of time on a trailer can develop slight divots where the weight is resting. While this can happen on both bunk and roller trailers, it occurs more frequently with roller ones.

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  • How to choose my boat trailer?

    In order to choose the best boat trailer for your needs, there are a number of key criteria to consider. It will not only depend on the weight and length of the boat and the shape of the hull, but also on local regulations. We’ll discuss these points in this guide along with some accessories.

    Your choice will mainly be influenced by:

    • Weight and length
    • Motor boat vs. sailboat
    • Regulations
    • Accessories
  • Which trailer should I choose for the weight and length of my boat?

    The first question you should ask yourself when selecting a trailer is the weight it will have to carry, i.e. the trailer’s required payload. The payload of the trailer must be greater than the sum of the cumulative mass of the boat and its engine, the full fuel tank, water tank(s), the fittings and any other equipment accessories. If you do not have an exact idea of ​​these loads, you can start with an estimate of 20% of the boat’s weight. Most boat manufacturers publish a dry weight which is the weight of the boat minus the engine, fuel and equipment.

    The boat owner is responsible for calculating how much the boat weighs fully loaded with fuel, water, batteries, outboard engine(s), equipment and the T-top or hard top if applicable.

    The second factor you will need to consider is the length of the trailer. It must guarantee the alignment of the transom of the boat on the last rollers of the trailer, with a tolerance of 25 centimeters.

  • Which trailer should I choose for my motor boat or sailboat?

    Just as boats come in all shapes and sizes, there are different trailers to transport the various types. For example, a motor boat will have a flat hull, unlike a sailboat which will have a keel.

    To ensure that a motor boat remains in good condition when transporting it, you will need to choose a roller trailer. Rollers are small wheels placed on the framework of the trailer. Roller trailers are ideal for fishing boats, rigid boats, day cruisers and semi-rigid boats under 7 meters. With two adjustable axle supports, you can stabilize your boat on the sides. It is very important to have brakes on your trailer as this will allow better weight distribution under braking.

    A sailboat requires the use of a trailer with cradles and many carrying rollers under the keel; this will help support the boat. Also remember to calculate the height of your boat in order to best adapt the axle supports. A stopper at the front is beneficial as it allows the boat to be blocked.

    Here’s a brief description of the difference between roller trailers and bunk trailers:

    • Roller trailers are great for launching and loading at shallow ramps or low tides. The running gear (brakes, hubs, springs, axles, etc.) is not exposed to the salt or fresh water as frequently which causes less damage long term. Roller trailers are typically more expensive to purchase and more costly to maintain.
    • Bunk trailers are more affordable because they have a simple design with fewer parts, meaning easier maintenance and repair. Most bunk trailers allow for drive-on capability. Your trailer will have to be relatively deep in the water in order to launch or retrieve your boat in this way. As bunk trailers have to be submerged, your running gear (brakes, hubs, springs, axles) is more vulnerable to damage, especially in salt water environments.


    Mecanorem Roller boat trailer

    EZ loader Bunk boat trailer

  • What should I know about boat trailer regulations?

    Before buying a boat trailer, it is important to make sure you have the necessary licence to be able to drive with it, especially if the payload is over 3,500 kilos. Regulations for towing a boat trailer take into account the cumulative payload of the towing vehicle and the trailer. They can vary from country to country.

  • What accessories are available for boat trailers?

    Many accessories are available to assist in the maintenance, security and functionality of a trailer. These accessories are generally sold separately. Here are a few you might want to consider:

    • An anti-theft device to be attached to the coupling ball
    • A spare wheel carrier
    • A spare wheel
    • A rinsing kit: this allows you to clean the different parts of the boat trailer
    • A tilting rear crossmember that allows your boat to be launched without submersion for more longevity.
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