Trailer / trailering information for canoe / kayak owners.
TRAILER SIZE AND BOAT POSITIONING - Never use a trailer that is too short, pulling the trailer that is to short for your boat[s] will cause a negative tongue weight situation which is dangerous. A negative tongue weight situation is when there’s more load weight behind the trailer axle than in front of the trailer axle, this causes the trailer tongue and coupler to lift up on the tow ball of the tow vehicle. To recognize if you’re having a negative tongue weight situation you will notice the trailer acts fine as long as you are accelerating but when you level off on your speed or decelerate the trailer starts a fishtail action. When this happens your instinct is to hit the brake pedal but this only makes the fishtailing worse. The proper way to stop a trailer from fishtailing would be to tap the brake pedal slightly and then accelerate if you can to make the fishtailing stop. To be safe make sure to use a proper length trailer and be sure to position more load ahead of the axle then behind the axle. Use a chair in a bathroom scale to determine that you do have a positive tongue weight, simply place a bathroom scale on a chair then place the loaded trailer tongue on top of the scale making sure you have at least 25 pounds tongue weight. Make sure to not exceed your hitches tongue weight capacity.
Purchasing a trailer with a tongue extension, or adding a tongue extension to an existing trailer will help solve problem described above. A good rule of thumb is as follows, a 12 foot long trailer can carry approximately a 14 foot boat, a 14 foot trailer can carry approximately a 16 foot boat, a 16 foot trailer can carry approximately an 18 foot boat,18 foot trailer can carry approximately a 20 foot boat. The reason you can carry a longer boat than the length of your trailer is most states allow a three or four rear overhang, that is the tips of the boats are allowed to hang 3 or 4 feet past the rear of the taillights on the trailer. anymore than this and you are required to put a red flag on the tips of the boats. Also keep in mind turning distance when positioning your boats on the trailer, make sure to have enough distance from the front tips of the boats on the trailer to the back corner of the tow vehicle. The distance between the back corner of the tow vehicle and the front tips of the boats on the trailer decreases as you take a corner and gets shorter with the sharper corner you take. With the help of a family member or friend take a short low-speed test corner while walking next to the trailer and visually observe that you have enough distance between the tips of the boats and the rear of the tow vehicle when taking a sharp corner.
CANOE KAYAK TIE DOWN PROCEEDURE
PROPER TIE DOWN PROCEEDURE use the above diagram as your procedure for tying down both canoes and kayaks. Bungee cords and tarp straps are not a proper way to tie down canoes or kayaks, depending on your boats depth and width you will need a 6 to 12 feet long by 1 inch wide nylon or polyester straps with either a spring-loaded or ratcheting buckle. Make sure not to over tighten with ratcheting type buckles as you may dent the hull or deck of your boat. You will notice in the photo above the tie down strap lashes the boat directly to the carry arm / load bar on both the left and right sides of the boat. This creates a wedging effect, it prevents the boat from sloshing side to side and also from sliding fore and aft.
Some kayak manufacturers because of their molding process required the kayaks to be carried vertically—that is on their gunnels / sides. Or some people prefer to carry their kayaks vertically in order to carry more boats per carry arm / load bar. If it’s required for your kayaks to be carried on their sides or you need to gain more room on your trailer use same tie down procedure tying to the vertical post on your trailer. See the photo below. If you trailer only has horizontal load bars and you need to carry your boats vertically you will need to purchase Vertical kayak stackers or Kayak J saddle as shown in the photo below.
TIE DOWN PROCEEDURE FOR KAYAKS VERTICALLY
KAYAK J SADDLE
VERTICAL KAYAK STACKERS
TROUBLE WITH TRANSPORTING CANOEStransporting canoes can sometimes be a challenging process because canoes have a totally open hull as opposed to a kayak with only a open cockpit. You see canoes tend to fill up with air and act as a kite when carried upside down on a trailer. Because canoes have a totally open hull they catch all the air turbulent coming off the tow vehicle. Larger or less aerodynamic tow vehicles tend to have a lot of turbulent air coming off the rear of the tow vehicle which is caught by the open hulls of the canoes and can cause a lifting action. This lifting action can make a trailer act squirrley and/or fishtail when traveling at highway speeds, in combination with the side wind can make this even worse to the point where you’d no longer dare to pull the trailer. One solution to this problem if you experience it is to carry the canoes upright, by carrying the canoe[s] upright it reverses the lifting action to now pushing the trailer down to the road making it much more stable. Its often undesirable to carry canoes up right because they need to be turned back over for storage reasons so they do not collect rain water, it simply creates extra unwanted work. A second solution is to weight down the trailer frame therefore making the trailer heavier to lift, a simple way to weight down the trailer frame is to fill the trailer side rail and or crossmembers with sand or concrete. Aluminum trailers are more susceptible to this problem than steel or galvanized trailers are because they are lighter, but in the right conditions it can happen to any trailer with canoes on upside down.
WRONG TIRE PRESSUREMost trailer users will run the trailer tires with the pressure recommended on the tire or the tongue tag provided with the trailer. These tire pressures are based upon the tires maximum carrying capacity. Most often the weight of a loaded canoe or kayak trailer is never anywhere close to the tires maximum capacity so running a lower pressure will give a much smoother ride. Users running 25 to 35 pounds of pressure in their tires will find much smoother ride as opposed to 45 to 60 pounds tire pressure. However you must be careful because running lower than 20 pounds tire pressure will cause excessive tire wear.