Chapter 3 X Vessel Operation
Tips for Safe Trailering Driving with a trailer takes special care and requires practice. Skills that take extra practice include backing up, taking corners and judging braking distances. Avoid sudden stops. Always allow extra distance between your vehicle and vehicles in front of you. Don’t brake when the rush of air from a large vehicle pushes the trailer to the side. The trailer will tend to correct itself without braking. When traveling below average traffic speed, you should pull over at the first safe opportunity to permit cars to pass. (California law requires drivers to pull over at the first possible safe location when they are holding up five or more vehicles.) You need more time and distance than usual to overtake and pass another vehicle because the trailer adds weight and reduces acceleration. Change lanes smoothly to prevent whipping the trailer. Stay in the middle of your lane. Take special care when going around corners to avoid making the trailer run over curbs, lamp posts and other objects. The trailer will take the turns in a tighter radius than the towing vehicle. Carry a properly inflated, mounted spare tire and wheel. You will also need a lug wrench and jack for changing the tire. Be sure that the lug wrench and jack matches your trailer, because the size of the bolts and the height of the trailer may differ from your car’s. It is illegal and dangerous to carry passengers on the trailer or boat while towing. Trailer Maintenance Tips Water will rust the metal parts of your trailer, causing these parts to get stuck and/or wear away. It is nearly impossible to keep the rims of the trailer’s wheels or the bearings out of water when launching. Maintain the bearings by: Keeping the bearings well greased. Allowing bearings to cool first if they must be immersed in water. Repacking the bearings when necessary or as recommended by the manufacturer. Carrying spare bearings, grease and tools for replacing the bearings on extended trips. It’s also a good idea to maintain the lug nuts on the wheels. You can do this by “exercising” or loosening the bolts, and then oiling them. Be sure to tighten them back up!
Before towing a boat on a trailer, check to see if: f The locking mechanism on the trailer hitch is properly engaged. f Boat tie-downs are secure and in their proper locations. f The cable that secures the front of the vessel to the trailer is attached and in good working condition. f Trailer safety chains are connected in a criss-cross pattern. f The trailer lights are in working condition. f The boat is not overloaded with extra gear, which could affect handling of the towing vehicle. f The spare tire is inflated and usable.
California Course for Safe Boating
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