143035_DBW Course_r3

Chapter 3 X Vessel Operation

The Trailer Hitch A hitch is used to attach the trailer tongue to the ball on the towing vehicle. ƒ The ball should be bolted or welded to the towing vehicle. ƒ Special heavy-duty equalizing hitches are necessary for trailer tongue or hitch weights of 350 pounds or more. ƒ The size of the coupler on the hitch should match the size of the ball exactly. Never use a ball that is too small, because your trailer could sepa rate from the towing vehicle. The weight rating and size in inches should be stamped on the ball. ƒ The trailer should be equipped with two strong, rust-free, safety chains. The chains should be crossed under the hitch/tongue to form an “X” when you connect them to the frame of the towing vehicle. ƒ Use sealed waterproof electrical connections on the trailer. Wire couplings should be high enough to remain dry when on- or off-loading the boat. Never use the trailer hitch for the ground connection. Instead, use four-pole electrical connectors. The tongue weight on the ball affects the towing vehicle and the trailer. ƒ No more than 5 to 7 percent of the total tow weight should be on the hitch. ƒ You can distribute weight properly by adjusting the trailer’s wheel carriage either forward or backward. ƒ If the carriage cannot be adjusted, relocate movable gear in the boat until the trailer is more balanced. Too much weight on the rear of the vehicle: ƒ Raises the front end and makes it difficult to control. ƒ Affects the steering and traction on front-wheel drive vehicles. ƒ Raises the focus of the head lights, possibly blinding drivers of on-coming vehicles. ƒ Reduces the driver’s field of vision. Not enough weight on the rear of the vehicle: ƒ Will cause the trailer to sway or fishtail. ƒ Increases the chances that the trailer hitch will separate from the ball.


tow car



crossed chains



Y ou must disconnect tail lights from the tow vehicle while getting ready to launch. This allows the bulbs to cool down before they are dipped in the water and prevents a short circuit in the vehicle’s electrical system.


California Course for Safe Boating

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