5 Essential Tips for Trailering a Pontoon Boat
Trailering a pontoon boat can be intimidating the first few times you do it, and you're likely to end up with a few dings and bends on the boat or trailer if you aren't careful.
I've learned the following tips mostly the hard way, so I hope they're helpful for you as you learn to trailer your 'toon.
#1: Don't trailer in high winds
We've all made the mistake of staying out on the water a little too long and not getting out of the lake when nasty weather comes. One of the first times I was out in my brand new G3 Pontoon boat, I saw a storm approaching but took a few extra spins on the lake before heading for the dock (thinking I could beat the storm).
I learned the hard way that pontoon boats turn into huge sails when the winds are up.The large fencing around the boat makes it difficult to navigate against the wind. In the end, it took six men to push the boat into position and get it on the trailer.
Don't chance it. You can't beat the storm. Mother Nature always wins.
#2: Get a dock hook
A dock hook, or boat hook, is a long telescoping rod with a hook on the end that boaters can use to grab dock cleats and pull the back end of the boat into position when the wind is pushing against you. A dock hook is not that expensive, and it can save you a lot of headache.
#3: Don't pull the trailer in too deep
One of the biggest problems I had when learning to trailer my 'toon was pulling the trailer in too deep into the water. When you do this, the boat is still floating. Even if you pull straight onto the trailer, the winds push the back of the boat off to the side since the back is still floating.
Just pull the trailer in deep enough that the tops of the wheel wells are barely under and you'll have much better results. The best method I've found is to pull the trailer back until the wheel wells are wet, and bring up the front of the boat.
Then, have the driver of the truck go slightly deeper, and you can then drive or pull the boat the rest of the way up the trailer.
#4: Use the dock as a drift break
If you have winds or waves pushing the boat which makes trailering tough, have your truck driver put the trailer up close to the downwind side of the dock. By doing this, the dock will break some of the wind and waves from pushing the boat.
You can also use your boat hook to pull the back over to the dock and keep it from drifting.
#5: Get everyone off the boat, or at least the front of the boat
Having weight in the front of the boat makes getting the pontoon boat on the trailer a lot more difficult. You're driving the boat onto the trailer, so additional weight means you need to use more thrust on the engine to get up the trailer.
Also, having passengers in the boat obstructs your view of the trailer to make sure you're on straight. I usually let everyone off the boat and then get the pontoon on the trailer myself to avoid this problem.