Even if you normally dock your vessel in the area you go boating, towing or trailering your boat is sure to come up over the course of your boat ownership experience. While trailering any object as large as a boat presents a few challenges for beginners, a little experience goes a long way. For those with less experience, here are a few key things you need to know before towing or trailering your boat.

Understand your vehicle’s towing capacity and the weight of your boat

Before you consider towing your boat, and even as you’re deciding which boat to buy, it’s a good idea to know the towing capacity of your car, truck, or SUV. This information can easily be found in your automobile’s manual, or often on the vehicle manufacturer’s website. You can also call a local dealership to help you out.

While most standard pickup trucks and SUVs are capable of trailering moderately sized boats, a typical sedan is going to have a problem towing anything more than a small fishing boat.

Likewise, you’ll need to know how much your boat weighs. While your boat’s manual will list the dry weight of your boat, you’ll have to also factor in any additional weight from engines, coolers, fuel, and boating accessories to get a feel for the true weight, which could be hundreds or even thousands of pounds more than the dry weight.

Make sure you have the muscle

Larger boats require a good amount of strength to launch and retrieve from the ramp. While you may be able to handle a small boat alone, make sure you have some help with a larger vessel.

As a boat owner, you likely have friends and family that will want you to bring your boat to their body of water for a day in the sun. Understanding what you need before towing your boat can help you get it, and yourself, to your destination safely.