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Keep It Down: A Guide To Trailering Inflatable Boats

Transporting an inflatable boat is not the same as transporting other boats, because it is susceptible to damage through excessive movement both of the boat and its outboard motor. Here’s what you can do to ensure your inflatable boat trailer gets you to the water and home again safe and sound.

The ups and downs of inflatables

Inflatable boats are easy to transport because they’re light, but that can also cause problems. They’re more prone to bouncing and since the heaviest part is usually the motor, particular care needs to be taken to ensure it doesn’t hit the ground or exert pressure on the transom.

As a minimum, a trailer for inflatable boats needs front bow support, tie-down points, carpet skids or bunks, a winch and keel rollers.

Support the tubes

Ideally, when the inflatable is trailered each tube will be fully supported on both sides with at least one bunk. Wider bunks are best, and should be covered with carpet to protect the rubber and reduce pressure.

Support the transom and motor

When the trailer hits a bump or pothole on the road, the motor will bounce up and come down again with considerable force. That force can in turn cause the transom to bend or even break away from the hull. One way to prevent this is to have a trailer long enough for the bottom of the motor to rest on the trailer, though that’s not optimal.

If you’re transporting an inflatable on a trailer with the outboard motor in a raised position, you could try attaching transom supports or adjustable motor support brackets. These are basically metal rods that go between the trailer and the leg of the outboard to support and stabilise the motor and take the strain off the transom. They’re available online or from your local marine supplies outlet.

Reduce movement

Your inflatable boat will tend to bounce in transit, so it’s important to keep it firmly fastened to the trailer to reduce independent movement. Cam or ratchet straps are best, since they won’t slip, but make sure they’re correctly rated for the weight of the boat.

If necessary, upgrade the suspension on your trailer to further dampen shocks and install a weight distribution hitch to keep it level.

Your inflatable boat trailer should be able to support the boat and motor without any damage occurring. Nevertheless, it’s advisable to drive to the road and weather conditions and always be on the lookout for potholes, corrugations or rough surfaces.

Take a look at these clever innovations that have been designed to help keep your boat trailer stable on the road.

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