On Air: With an Increase in New Boaters, New York Sea Grant Offers Tips for Boat Trailers
Great Lakes Boating & Marine Trades - News

Dave White, New York Sea Grant, Recreation and Tourism Specialist, P: 315-312-3042, E: dgw9@cornell.edu

Oswego, NY, August 3, 2021 - After being stuck inside for over a year, the number of boaters has greatly increased as people find ways to spend time outside their house.

NYSG's Coastal Recreation and Tourism Specialist Dave White says that 80% of families will tow their new boat to the lakes but are not paying attention for the trip from their house to the lake.

White states that the trailer is a very important piece of equipment and using it properly is important for the safety of everyone on the road.

White also says it’s very important to clean the trailer, not just the boat, in order to stop the chances of transferring an invasive species from one lake to another.

WDOE News Director Dave Rowley spoke with White on WDOE 1040 AM / 94.9 FM's "Viewpoint" program, which is broadcast in the greater Syracuse and Oswego regions. 

Viewpoint airs on WDOE Monday through Friday at 8:45am. Dave Rowley has been handling the hosting duties for more than 20 years, interviewing local, county and state elected officials. Community groups are also featured on the 15-minute live interview show. Listeners email their questions to Dave, who includes those inquires in the interviews.

You can also listen to the entire "Viewpoint" program featuring Dave White of New York Sea Grant ...

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Full Transcript: 

Speaker1: [00:00:00] Time now for VIEWPOINT. Here's DOE news director Dave Rowley. And welcome to VIEWPOINT on our Liveline this morning, we have Dave White. He is from New York Sea Grant. He's a coastal recreation and tourism specialist. And Dave, welcome to the broadcast.

Speaker2: [00:00:20] Good morning. Thanks for having me. Always great to be with you.

Speaker1: [00:00:23] Well, Dave, you know, we talk so much about boating safety, but one area that [00:00:30] maybe boaters don't think enough about is using that trailer and boat. Absolutely. Yeah, and you have some safety tips in starting with rules of the road, basically.

Speaker2: [00:00:48] It really is. And you're right on point today that, you know, we think about the boat, our safety gear, getting out on the water, having that great day. But first we have to get there. So, you know, a lot of folks [00:01:00] just almost take for granted that, you know, they're trailering the vessel and, you know, with 85 to 90 percent of the boats in New York are trailered boat. So, you know, there's a lot of us on the road with our boats. So you really have to think about the trailer as a whole part of the boating process. And, you know, from once you leave home to get to that launch ramp and back or wherever you may be going. So and you have to think of the rules of the road in this case, the real road, you know, boat trailers have to be registered every year. And a lot of folks don't realize they have to be inspected every year, just [00:01:30] like your car. And most DMV dealers that will inspect your car can also inspect your trailer. And you don't have to take the boat off to do that. You can take it down with the boat on, you know, leave it there with them, make an appointment and they'll do a good inspection. And that way it's prepped for the year. They've checked all of the electronics, they've checked the tires. You know, they've checked all those important components to make sure when you're on the road that, you know, you're road, you're road-worthy and your boat-worthy and water-worthy. So it's something a lot of folks do take, you [00:02:00] know, for granted. But it's something, boy, if it can get us in a lot of trouble with that number of boat trailers on the road and not thinking about the safety aspects of it. And as you well know, in western New York from, you know, the problem you had last year down on the lake.

Speaker1: [00:02:13] Now, Dave, you know, tires are critical. You think about your car or SUV or pickup truck with the tires, but with trailers, they're really crucial.

Speaker2: [00:02:29] They really are. And [00:02:30] it's something you really want, you know, again, having the inspection and they can check those for you, you know, make recommendations. But also you use boat trailers for six months of the year so you can get tire rot much quicker. In some cases, they're small. So, you know, it's something you often don't think about. Another piece that people don't often think about is having a spare for your trailer. I mean, just like with your car, you can get a flat, you know, just traveling along. You know, you get a flat tire, you know, so having a spare and, you know, if you're a [00:03:00] AAA member or whatever, they'll come out and give you a hand. But a lot of folks don't realize the trailers many times don't come with a spare. So, you can have it attached to the tongue or, you know, to the the actual jack area. So, you know, for 15 years, I've done my clean and safe. So every year I get a different boat and trailer for our educational program. And that's one thing I always first thing I do with the dealer is, you know, the boat is the easy part. It's, you know, how do I use the trailer? What's unique about the trailer? Does it have a spare? Will [00:03:30] the dealer give me a spare. So, you know, all of those kind of things really need to be thought about. And tires are critically important. And then you have to think about the entire electric system, because the only way folks know what you're doing is by that electric system, because a lot of times if you're towing a boat behind you, they can't see the lights on your car. So the boat trailer lights are what's really going to give folks an indication of how you're traveling along.

Speaker1: [00:03:53] Oh, absolutely. And of course, the brakes and the wheels too, right?

Speaker2: [00:03:59] Absolutely. [00:04:00] For noncommercial trailers, smaller trailers, traditional small boat trailers that many of us have, you don't need trailer brakes. As you get into the larger vessels, and as you and I well know, you know, in western New York, with a lot of the boats up on Chautauqua and Lake Erie, you know, our private personal boats that we trailer are getting bigger. I mean, people are trailer in boats, you know, 23, 24 or 25, 26 feet, because they want to be able to go from a body of water to a body of water. So, you know, many of those are now coming equipped with, you know, trailer brakes [00:04:30] on them. So you have to have your car set up to handle that. You have to be checking those. And again, all part of a good inspection with your local DMV, you know, your local mechanic well, but then also because you're going in and out of water, these trailers get a lot of strange wear and tear that, you know, cars don't normally get. You know, your entire electric system is being submerged underwater. Your tires are going in water, you know, so because of that water interaction as well, you really want to, you know, be cautious and take that extra time off. We've got [00:05:00] to say, as soon as I say coming in and out of water, you got to check for invasive species because trailers are, you know, a predominant way that we can transfer invasive species because all of the nooks and crannies that, you know, either weeds or aquatic plants, you know, vegetation and animals can get locked into. So, you know, when you first come right out of the water, the launch, you're not only checking the trailer to make sure the lights are all working. Everything's in good working order. The boat is sitting well on the trailer and secure. But you're also checking for invasive species.

Speaker1: [00:05:29] Yeah. So [00:05:30] how do you do that? What's the best way when we're talking about these invasive species species, which could be aquatic life or could be weeds?

Speaker2: [00:05:43] Absolutely. And, you know, it's clean, drain, dry. You know, the nice thing is nationally, we have embraced that here in the state, you know, Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers, clean, drain, dry, you know, walk around a boat. And again, you're doing the whole inspection. When you pulled that boat up out of the water, you're rechecking your chains, [00:06:00] you're checking your electronics, you're checking your brakes. So while you're doing that, you're also checking all the nooks and crannies. You're moving any plant material. You know, you're making sure there's no compartments that have water. You know, you might have a sponge or a towel just to dry some of the areas off to make sure you're not transporting anything. And many of our boat launch ramps have a disposal station right there that if you do have any invasive species that you find on it, you can put right in the disposal station. That's right at the launch. So, you know, a lot of our partners that are running [00:06:30] our stewardship programs and, you know, a lot of our partners across the state and, you know, in western New York are doing stewardship programs with watercraft steward inspections, and they're there to help you do that. You know, so while you're checking the trailer out to make sure everything's operational, they're going to help you go through and do the invasive species check as well. And, you know, if you're there was one of the stewards, they're just great, wonderful college students that are there to help us take advantage of that opportunity, because sometimes you may go to a launch that they're not there, but by walking through with them, they'll have trained you individually [00:07:00] to to be a good steward and to do a good, clean drain and dry.

Speaker1: [00:07:03] And right now, let me ask you about the launches, because I know on one of the local lakes they actually had a launch accident that damaged the boat landing and the boat landing was out of commission until they could actually rebuild it for for many months. Sometimes boaters are a little bit too much in a rush. [00:07:30]

Speaker2: [00:07:32] I don't know if it'd be too much in a rush, but as I always say to folks, you need to practice trailering, you know, go to, you know, a parking lot of an empty store or something that, you know, you can go through. Use the lines to be backing and practicing because it's it's not something that you're used to. And even every year at the beginning of the boating season, especially if you're getting a new boat, because each trailer will operate a little differently, or if you get a new tow vehicle, you need to really go out and practice launching. And [00:08:00] a lot of our launches now, you know, they have docks with them. It's not wide open. So you're in a narrower area. And so a lot of folks, you know, again, take for granted that, oh, how hard can it be to back a trailer up? You know, again, I get a different boat every year. And one of the first things I do even before I leave the dealership is just practice maneuvering with the trailer and backing it up because they all handle a little bit differently. So that's really critical because that way you're not going to damage your boat, your trailer, or in this case, the launch ramp, [00:08:30] which then, you know, took that lake out of commission for a lot of folks. So it's something you really want to be thinking about and you really have to understand how to trailer so you don't get too far down in and have your towed vehicle stall. You know, we all see the online videos of the trailer boat at the launch ramp issues. And those are not manufactured. Those are real. And it's just, you know, it's an accident that that happens. So, you know, the more you can do the prep and as I always say, [00:09:00] you know, take that 15 minutes to prep the boat, take the five to 10 minutes to prep the trailer, make sure it's safe, secure, attached correctly, all in working order, because that's just going to add to your great boating day in western New York.

Speaker1: [00:09:11] You know, one other question, the payload capacity, how critical is that?

Speaker2: [00:09:19] It's like anything else, it is critically important to follow the trailer manufacturer and the boat manufacturer and the car manufacturer limitations for boat trailering. And every [00:09:30] car manufacturer will tell you if you're going to, you know, turn your car into a tow vehicle, what its capacity is. That becomes critically important for being able to properly handle it on the roadway, properly handle it at the launch ramp, because, again, you're also on water, you're coming in and out. So, you know, they're specifically rated for that purpose. You want to have a boat and trailer that match. And, you know, right now, you know, like like boats, trailers are hard to come by. [00:10:00] So, you know, if you're thinking about you might need a new trailer or there's some issues with the trailer, you might be talking to your local, you know, marine dealer now about that for next spring, because those are in short supply, you know, as most other equipment is right now in the boating industry. But, yeah, following those guidelines, because those are the ones that will get you in trouble not only on the road, but actually trying to launch and retrieve the boat at the boat launch ramp because also boat once ramps get extremely slippery, you know, so if you're really not paying attention and you've got [00:10:30] an overload on the back, that's where you see those videos from the accident where the car or the truck just continues to slide right down in because it doesn't have the capacity to pull that boat back up and out. So those things all become critically important.

Speaker1: [00:10:43] And it sounds to me like maybe boaters should have a checklist, just like with their boats also for the trailer.

Speaker2: [00:10:54] Absolutely. You have to think of the whole package. You know, if you're trailering your boat, you need to be thinking [00:11:00] about the boat, safety equipment, the trailer. And there is, our partners at Discover Boating and Boat US both have great checklists, you know, you can have right there, just as you're walking around, you know, tires, chains, electronics, you know, checking the hits, checking, you know, checking the rollers. It'll have that nice checklist. And also, there's great videos on both Discover Boating and Boat US on trailering itself, because a lot of folks, if they've never trailered, you know, it gives them that, you know, how do you trailer? How do you back up the trailer? What do you need to be thinking about distance from others? [00:11:30] So both of those are just wonderful resources for boaters to go to, you know, on an evening when you're sitting home, take advantage of that opportunity because, you know, having that extra prep time in the morning, on a Sunday morning, you get up, you check the book, you've got your equipment, you check your trailer. It's just going to make for, you know, a great fun and family friendly day out on the water. And you're not going to have that problem with the trailer either getting there or once you're at the launch ramp.

Speaker1: [00:11:55] I know we have a couple of minutes left in our interview. And I did want to ask [00:12:00] you this summer, it's been rather a challenge for boaters weather wise. We've had reports of water spouts on Lake Erie a couple of nights ago. So there have been real challenges. I would assume boaters should have a good piece of equipment with them as far as trying to track the weather.

Speaker2: [00:12:25] Oh, absolutely. And, you know, we all carry our phones now. I mean, it's the thing [00:12:30] we all have. And you can get some great weather apps, some great marine weather apps that you can actually go on and, you know, code in and key in that if they're, you know, a small craft advisory comes up. If a weather warning comes up, you know, back in our day, you know, you turn the AM radio on and if you heard the cracking in the AM radio, you knew a thunderstorm was coming. But, you know, now you can have your phone set with alarms that will tell you if a storm is coming in the area. And obviously it can. I mean, with the summer that we've had with the heat that we've had these pop up thunderstorms. [00:13:00] So, you know, being aware, being ready to get off, you know, and watching for those boating hazards, we actually just put out a brochure on, you know, boating hazards and be thinking about the weather and lightning and fog and all of those weather conditions that, again, you know, you just want to be thinking about in the back of your head. And, you know, we actually just put out a new brochure talking about specifically thinking about whether what you can do where you can get some great information.

Speaker2: [00:13:27] Weather Nation Radio [00:13:30] has got some great information for you to be prepared as well. And again, you want to be thinking about, OK, I need to get back to the launch and I'm going to have to get my boat out of the water. So you also have to add that extra time in, because now everybody may be thinking about getting off the water at a similar time. And, you know, and as I always say, you know, if the weather is going to be bad on a weekend, it's a great time to take a day off in the week. When it's quieter, you get more of the lake to yourself, take the family out. So, you know, I encourage everybody, get out there on the water, whether it be on a weekend or a weekday [00:14:00]. Sunday is not the only weather day we have. And, you know, it's going to be a great August into September. And as I always say, the boating season doesn't end until Columbus Day. The old days of it ends on Labor Day. That's old. We're going to Columbus Day so people can really I mean, we're looking at another two and a half months of great boating.

Speaker1: [00:14:19] Thanks for joining us VIEWPOINT today. Really appreciate it.

Speaker2: [00:14:23] Always great to be with you, Dave. You have a great day.

More Info: New York Sea Grant

New York Sea Grant (NYSG), a cooperative program of Cornell University and the State University of New York (SUNY), is one of 34 university-based programs under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Sea Grant College Program.

Since 1971, NYSG has represented a statewide network of integrated research, education and extension services promoting coastal community economic vitality, environmental sustainability and citizen awareness and understanding about the State’s marine and Great Lakes resources.

Through NYSG’s efforts, the combined talents of university scientists and extension specialists help develop and transfer science-based information to many coastal user groups—businesses and industries, federal, state and local government decision-makers and agency managers, educators, the media and the interested public.

The program maintains Great Lakes offices at Cornell University, SUNY Buffalo, SUNY Oswego and the Wayne County Cooperative Extension office in Newark. In the State's marine waters, NYSG has offices at Stony Brook University in Long Island, Brooklyn College and Cornell Cooperative Extension in NYC and Kingston in the Hudson Valley.

For updates on Sea Grant activities: www.nyseagrant.org has RSS, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube links. NYSG offers a free e-list sign up via www.nyseagrant.org/nycoastlines for its flagship publication, NY Coastlines/Currents, which is published quarterly.

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