If you love your trailer-sailer as much as I do, I know you’ll want to make sure it’s hitched to your towing vehicle properly. For those new to hauling trailers, how to hitch it up and tow safely can be a bit confusing – so let’s make sure we get it right.




1. Align the tow vehicle, and back it up until the ball is directly beneath the trailer hitch.

2. Lower the hitch onto the ball, and raise the jack stand as high as possible. In some cases this just means cranking until you can’t crank any more, but some jacks swing away to sit parallel with the roadway.

3. Engage the latch on the ball (on some trailers this means pushing an arm back, and on others, screwing it down). Once the latch in engaged, insert the safety pin. NEVER two without this pin in place – otherwise, all it takes is one big bump and you could become un-hitched!

4. Put on your safety chains. Always cross them, which will prevent the trailer tongue from digging into the roadway if the hitch somehow becomes disengaged.

Watch our How to Safely Hitch a Boat Trailer video, and see how it's done first-hand.

Watch our How to Safely Hitch a Boat Trailer video, and see how it's done first-hand.


5. If your trailer has brakes, hook up the brake safety chain. This will cause the brakes to kick in if the trailer comes loose.

6. Plug in the trailer lights. Remember that problems with trailer lights are quite common – check to make sure they’re all working properly before you hit the road.

7. Finally, walk 360 degrees around your rig and do a pre-towing check. Make sure you double-check the trailer hitch, the boat’s bow and transom attachments, and trailer tire pressure.

Okay, you’re ready to roll. Be sure to come back to Boats.com, and check out our how-to articles and videos on launching and retrieving trailer boats, and on tips for driving with a trailer in tow.

Written by: Lenny Rudow
With over two decades of experience in marine journalism, Lenny Rudow has contributed to publications including YachtWorld, boats.com, Boating Magazine, Marlin Magazine, Boating World, Saltwater Sportsman, Texas Fish & Game, and many others. Lenny is a graduate of the Westlawn School of Yacht Design, and he has won numerous BWI and OWAA writing awards.