If you’ve just bought or are about to buy a new pontoon boat, chances are you’re thinking about all of the other purchases that go along with it – safety items, accessories for watersports or maybe fishing gear. But a key element of owning a boat is moving it from place to place, especially from storage to the water. Some boaters prefer to have their boats delivered when the season begins, but this is not always the best option for those boat owners who move their boats around throughout the summer or don’t have a permanent spot to dock. For those types of boaters, buying a trailer is vital.
Types of Pontoon Trailers
To get started buying a trailer for your pontoon boat, first you have to consider the types of trailers. Like many other boating accessories, they depend on what kind of boat you have and which one is right for you will be different for everybody.
Bunk Pontoon Trailers
The first kind of trailer for a pontoon is called a “bunk-style” trailer. As the name suggests, these types of trailers have bunks that cradle each “toon” in place, making your boat less susceptible to tipping and other movement while on the road. This is a great option if you intend to tow your pontoon over long distances and at higher speeds. A bunk trailer is also a good option for boats that are heavier or have larger engines and are good for both two- or three-hulled boats.
Scissor Pontoon Trailer
The other type of pontoon trailer is a “scissor-style” trailer. These are constructed with a central lift that sits between the tubes of the boat and supports them in this way. This mechanism is attached to a winch that can lower and raise the entire boat. This style of trailer is conducive to short distances, as well as easy on- and off-loading in shallow water.
Tritoon vs. Pontoon Trailers
An important deciding factor in the purchase of your pontoon boat was likely related to whether to get a third tube, or a tritoon. Tritoons and traditional pontoon boats are similar in many ways, and each have their own advantages for boaters, but a triple pontoon will not be supported by all trailer designs.
In order to accommodate the third tube, a bunk-type trailer will be required. Scissor trailers, due to their design, cannot haul triple pontoon models. As such, a bunk-style trailer would likely be the ideal choice for a tritoon owner.
Boats with two hulls are able to be transported by either of the trailer types. Which one you get will ultimately be up to you, but it’s worth considering the many qualities of each style before you decide.
How To Trailer a Pontoon Boat
Once you choose the right trailer for you, the important next step is to learn how to use it. Like many parts of owning a boat, it’s a process, and practice will make perfect. Read on to find a step-by-step guide on the basics of using your trailer to haul your pontoon boat.
1. Check Pontoon Weight + Height
The vital first step when using your trailer is to be sure that your vehicle and trailer can perform as you need them to. To do this, you must check your pontoon boat’s weight against your vehicle’s tow capacity, and the height of your boat against the trailer’s clearance from the ground. If you end up towing something that is too heavy for your vehicle, it can damage your vehicle and be dangerous for you and other drivers.
2. Attach Trailer to Vehicle
To get your journey with your pontoon boat underway, the next step is to safely attach your trailer to your vehicle. You should start by checking your hitch and ensuring that you have the correct size ball receiver on it. When you purchase your trailer, information should be included about what size ball is required. Make sure that your hitch pin is secured so the receiver doesn’t slip out of the vehicle’s hitch attachment. Then, connect your trailer to your vehicle by putting the coupler on top of the ball receiver. Once it is in place, put its cotter pin back in place to lock it in. For extra security, attach safety chains to the vehicles frame as well as a breakaway cord. Finally, attach your trailer to your vehicle’s electrical system to make sure you have functional lights on your trailer.
3. Load and Secure Pontoon to Trailer
Once your trailer is attached, what’s next is to position your pontoon on it. To make traveling easy and safe, you need to make sure that your pontoon is correctly secured. On scissor trailers, this will mean ensuring that your boat is not too far up on the trailer and be sure that the boat’s transom is resting on the cross-members of the trailer. With bunk trailers, make sure that your pontoon’s tubes are centered between the bunks so that your boat doesn’t slip or move around while traveling.
Pontoon Trailer Safety & Considerations
Ensuring safety while towing your boat should be of utmost importance, not only because you could inadvertently damage your boat, but because you don’t want to get hurt in a preventable incident. Here are some things to be aware of as you get ready to travel with your pontoon boat.
Check the Weather for Trailering
Make sure you have an up-to-date weather forecast. If there is a chance of high winds that could jostle your boat, or any sort of heavy rain that could hamper your visibility, it might be best to wait for clear weather conditions before you travel with your boat.
Do Not Trailer Boat with Passengers
Do not under any circumstances trailer or haul your boat if there are people onboard. There is an injury risk associated with being in a vehicle that is being towed, as it is unlikely that passengers will be able to secure themselves safely. Plus, it is illegal in most locations.
Drive With Caution
Caution and care should be taken when a trailer is attached to your vehicle. Avoid sudden movements like quick lane changes or tight turns and be mindful of how much wider and longer your vehicle is with its additional load attached. Make sure you’re comfortable with the feeling of towing your boat before you set out, and be smart on the road once you do.