Lights as important on land as at sea
It may be just a coincidence, but while driving in the predawn hours on Oahu's highways recently, I have noticed an increasing number of trailered boats being towed without brake or taillights.
And to make matters worse, those trailers were nearly always being towed down the same highways that had previously been darkened by folks who considered the streetlights' copper wiring their personal income source.
Talk about accidents waiting to happen.
I bring this up because trailered boats make up about two-thirds of the approximately 18,000 registered boats in Hawaii. I would hate to have this no-lights-on-the-trailer towing technique become a trend for such a large share of our boating population.
To be sure, it isn't likely to draw the attention of the HPD, however pulling a trailer without lights is still illegal, and worse, it is an exceptionally good way to have a boat damaged or destroyed in a rear-end collision.
Having properly operating trailer lights isn't the only safety consideration for trailer boat owners, of course, even though it may be one of the most noticeable traffic violations at night. According to the National Marine Manufacturers Association, there should be several other items on all boaters' trailer safety checklists.
First, before doing anything, boaters should make sure their trailer hitch and the coupler ball on their tow vehicle are the same size. Second, they should confirm the trailer's coupler and safety chains are securely fastened to the tow vehicle.
NMMA's advice to securely tie down the boat to the trailer would seem to be just common sense, but boaters should also remember the winch line must not be used as a tie-down. Plus, they must always remember that the trailer jack must be properly stowed once the trailer is hooked up.
The trailer's wheels should be checked for properly tightened lug nuts, and the wheel bearings should be adequately adjusted and lubricated.
Tires, too, should be checked for proper inflation.
Boaters must also be sure not to exceed the maximum carrying capacity of their trailers by overloading their boats with ice chests, camping gear and other heavy items.
When trailers are equipped with brakes, they must be frequently checked to see they are properly adjusted and are in good working condition as they are constantly submerged in salt water during boat launchings and retrievals.
Finally, the NMMA advises trailer boaters to stow all of their gear in the boat so it is protected from the potential 50-mph winds created by highway speed towing, and to never allow people to ride in the boat while it is being towed.
Nothing can ruin a day of boating quicker than by having a problem while you are still getting your boat to the water. So the solutions offered are pretty clear.
Take a few moments preparing your trailer by using NMMA's checklist before leaving the driveway because safe boating for trailer boat owners begins and ends at home.