Towing your RIB – part 2
Part 2 of Guide covers how to tow a RIB and includes a handy checklist to run through before your journey starts. Do these regularly to prevent hassles getting to and from the water!
Plus there’s some essential tips on driving with your trailer.
1. Essential car checks – before you start your journey
- Re-fuel your car and check the oil before attaching the trailer
- This reduces complications of entering a petrol station with the trailer attached.
- Top up the radiator with water
- Towing a large load puts the engine is under greater strain especially in hot weather
- Check the brakes will be able to safely bring the vehicle and trailer to a halt
2. Trailer safety checks – before you set off
Trailer loads and weight:
- Ensure that the trailer is loaded properly and is well balanced
- All trailer couplings will show the maximum nose weight which they are designed to operate with
- Most trailers will be between 60-100kg
- You can buy a nose load indicator to check that the trailer is loaded correctly
- If it is unbalanced, it could result in the trailer ‘snaking’ behind the tow vehicle
See Part 1 – RIB towing guide for more details on getting the right trailers and setting up to tow.
Secure the boat to the trailers:
- Ensure the boat is securely fastened to the trailer
- Use at least two ratchet straps to prevent the boat moving forwards and backwards as well as up and down.
Secure the trailer to the towing vehicle:
- Connect the trailer and ensure it is securely attached to the car
- Check both the hitchball and coupler are secure by pulling it upwards
- The emergency break away cable must be attached to the tow vehicle
- Note – if the police stop you when you do not have the break away cable attached you are likely to receive 4 points on your license
- Do not put a security chain and padlock between a braked trailer and vehicle when you are travelling on the road
- If you have an unbraked trailer ensure that the safety chains are hitched up
Trailer checks and essential legal requirements:
- All the trailer lights (indicators, running and brake lights) are functioning properly
- Number plate must be visible, right sized letters and securely attached
- Mudguards are secure and actually cover the wheels
- Ensure you have a prop bag
Always ensure the following:
- Jockey wheel is wound up and secure
- The brake systems operate properly before you embark
- The tyre pressures of the tow vehicle and trailer (and spare tyre) are correct
- The optimum tyre pressures for the trailer will be written on the side of the tyre wall
- Ensure the tyre pressures reach this level
If you are replacing a trailer tyre, do not fit a standard car tyre. Fit a tyre with a ply rating which is suitable for the boat weight you intend to tow
3. Connecting up your trailer
- Many trailer hitches differ slightly with the connection and release mechanism
- Get your vendor to show you exactly how to connect it up correctly to your vehicle when you buy it
- Always use the jockey wheel, if the trailer has one, to take the weight of the trailer
- As a general guide for a good ride height the centre of the tow ball should be between 16.5-18 inches to the ground whilst on the flat
- Check you have good visibility in your side mirrors
- If necessary, get mirror extensions
4. Driving with your trailer
After setting off stop after about 1 mile and double check:
- The trailer hitch attachment
- The boat is still secure, no straps are loose and the boat is not liable to move around
- The lights and electrical connections are still working and together
Max speed limits – NOTE these alter when you are towing a trailer:
- Single carriageways unless signs show to the contrary = max 50mph
- Dual carriageways and motorways = max 60mph
- Speed limits also alter in mainland Europe – check the motoring websites for details
- When towing on a motorway with three lanes, you can only use the middle and inside lane
- It is not permitted to drive in the outside lane of a motorway when towing a trailer
- Check that your breakdown cover includes your trailer
- Check if your policy states a maximum length on the vehicle and trailer
- Some policies will only cover the car and not the trailer
- You don’t want to have to leave your RIB behind in a lay-by when you get rescued!
Trailers can start ‘snaking’ if the balance is incorrect. Frequently, this is because there’s too much weight in the back of the boat. It’s scary as the trailer starts pushing the back of the car around.
If your trailer starts to sway behind the car when you start driving then there are two ways to correct it.
Trailer snaking when driving along a flat level road:
- take your foot off the accelerator gently
- let the vehicle slow down gradually
- DO NOT touch the brakes!
Trailer snaking when driving down a hill:
- drop down a gear
- accelerate in order to try to pull the trailer straight
Once you have the trailer under control again, it is advisable to stop as soon as safe to do so and ensure that the load is balanced correctly.
5. Trailer security
Trailer theft is a common problem We would recommend that you purchase a good quality wheel clamp and that it is ‘Sold Secure‘. This is an industry standard for quality security items.
A hitch lock is also a good idea; this should also be Sold Secure.
If you missed it, then you can check back to part 1 of our guide to towing.