Buying a boat: Pick the right boat and a boat trailer to suit

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Hankering for a spot of boating or fishing? How do you know which is the right boat? What boat trailer is needed for hauling it to the water? Let’s look at your options.

  • Aluminium

From the no-fuss tinnie to fishing or sailing craft, aluminium is a popular choice when buying a boat, because it’s light, cheap to run and can take a lot of abuse. These boats are also easy to handle, tow and lift in and out of the water.

Good for fishing in rivers, bays and shallower waters, an aluminium boat can be towed using a basic boat trailer with a galvanized X-frame and padded V-frame for the hull.

  • Fibreglass

If you’re looking in our guide for a sleeker model, try a fibreglass boat. The types of boats made of fiberglass include canoes, runabouts and cruisers. They are heavier than aluminium boats, so they sit better in the water and can withstand heavier conditions.

Fibreglass boat trailers should have rollers to protect the keel.

  • Inflatables

Inflatable boats are light, compact to store and easy to transport. They range from lightweight rubber dinghies with flexible flooring to aluminium hulled RIBs (Rigid Inflatable Boats) such as those used by lifesavers and water police. Fishing boats with centre consoles and fibreglass hulls can also be inflatables.

Trailers for inflatable boats have at least a single axle and tie-down points, as well as keel rollers, carpet skids or cradles for larger craft.

  • Open deck boats

Despite offering minimum shelter, open deck boats offer a versatile means of getting out on the water with family and friends. Ranging from catamarans to bowriders, they are often light, easy to operate and low maintenance.

The trailer will depend entirely on the size, shape and weight of the craft.

  • Enclosed boats

These range from cuddy boats to cruisers. You can shelter from the sun, wind and rain on an enclosed boat and spend a weekend aboard it. It has storage and seating, sleeping berths, toilets and a galley.

The compact ones are fairly easy to tow, but your trailer will need brakes, rollers, a winch and submersible lights.

  • Centre consoles

These fishing boats have an open deck with the console in the centre. With little or no cover, they’re exposed to the elements, but have plenty of room to move around.

About the trailer

Your boat trailer will likely have a winch and submersible LED lights. It must comply with Australian standards, be suitable for the boat length and rated for its aggregate trailer mass (ATM). Trailers for larger boats need over-ride or power assisted hydraulic or mechanical disc brakes.

Your boat will spend a large amount of time sitting idle on its trailer, so make sure you invest in a solid jockey wheel.

That’s just a brief overview – there are almost as many variations of trailers as there are boats. Before purchasing either, take time to consider what you need on your trailer and don’t stint, because its sturdiness and reliability can make or break your day out.

Need a trailer with that new boat? Here are some tips on what to look for before you buy.


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