Your new Starcraft pontoon boat can open you to a whole new world of boating adventures. Sadly enough however, many first time boaters do not leave their own lakes or fear the launch ramp for one reason: they don't know how to trailer their pontoon boat. Learning how to trailer your boat is really quite simple and requires one thing - Practice! You don't have to wait until you hit the launch ramp for the first time to practice trailering your boat. That can be a high stress situation. Most of the time during the summer your local launch ramp can be a busy place that induces stress, nerves and panic, absolutely ruining the day you're trying to create for yourself and your family by heading out on your Starcraft Pontoon. Next thing you know your Starcraft pontoon boat stays in the driveway, starts to collect dust and is soon for sale.
The way to avoid this is as soon as you take delivery of your new starcraft boat, head to a wide open parking lot to practice. There is zero stress, zero pressure and you can get comfortable maneouvering your rig around without anyone to watch over you. There are some things to consider when choosing a practice lot to learn how to trailer your boat:
- Look for SPACE - you don't want to feel cramped and get yourself in a bad situation in a small lot.
- Look for permanent obstacles - these can be used to practice turning and backing up and you don't have to worry people.
- Make sure it stays empty - you don't want the lot to fill up on you while you're practicing.
- Keep it close to home - remember you're still learning so don't venture too far too soon.
Once you get to the lot start off first with acceleration tests - the same as if you were at a stop sign or stop light. Get used to how your tow vehicle handles the extra load. Next practice stopping. The extra weight will effect this as well so you want to make sure you know what your safe ranges are. Next find a lamp post and try to practice turns. Start first with wide turns and then move in tighter and tigher until you find your comfort level. Think of the lamp post as a curb at an intersection so you know how wide to make a turn when you get onto the road.
Next you want to practice the hard part - backing up. Backing up with a trailer is the hardest part because everything is backwards. When you move the wheel to the left, the trailer goes right. When you move to the right, the trailer goes left. Not to mention everything is happening behind you so it is easy to get turned around and mixed up and into trouble. But if you take it slow and keep calm you will soon realize backing up a pontoon boat trailer is not very difficult.
Place your hand at the bottom of the steering wheel with your palm facing down. Now from here whereever you want to move the trailer, move your hand that way. If you want the trailer to go left, then move your hand left. By having your hand at the bottom of the wheel and moving left you will actually be moving it right. Remember that your center will always be with your hand at the bottom so keep it in the same position. Start with small changes, then correct them to get used to how the rig reacts to movements. If you get too mixed up, shift back into forward to reset and try again.
Use your mirrors. Do not reach and look back over your shoulder. This can cause you to get mixed up and forget about the front of your vehicle! Your mirrors are there for a reason and the more you use them, the more aware of your surroundings you will become. I'm not saying you can not look over either shoulder, this is good to check blind spots, but use your mirrors as your main source.
Work with a spotter. When trailering there are going to be blind spots. That and it is hard to determine how long your rig actually is from your mirrors so it helps to use a spotter for those friendly reminders of "You have lots of room!" Have a system of commands set upon first before your spotter heads out. This way you're both on the same page and it doesn't lead to silly arguments.
Have FUN with it. Boating is fun, don't let learning how to trailer your boat get in the way of going on new adventures. If you have new lakes near by then head out and explore them and see how much fun it can be to hit the road with your family and your Starcraft pontoon boat and discover a whole new boating adventure.
Until then I will see you out on the water, or maybe even out on the road!