Boat Towing Safety: Secure That Bow Eye

I once bought a used boat that nearly landed in the back of my pickup. Well, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but that’s what it felt like when it happened. I had picked it up super cheap. I was going to take it home, give a good going-through, polish it up, ensure everything worked, and sell it for a profit.

On setups like this, it’s almost impossible to run the bow strap on top of the roller, and that’s a good thing.
On setups like this, it’s almost impossible to run the bow strap on top of the roller, and that’s a good thing.

Then a slow-moving truck pulled out in front of me.

When I jumped on the brakes, the boat rode up the bow roller on the trailer and nearly launched itself into the bed of the truck.

Why do we always have to learn lessons that way?

I had never really given it much thought before, but that day taught me how important it is to make sure the bow strap is secured under the roller, not over it. If it had been attached under the roller, the boat might have lurched forward a bit, but I wouldn’t have had to stop at a lake to float the boat off the trailer and resettle it onto the bunks. If it had been attached, I wouldn’t have to change my drawers when I got home, either.

On setups where the bow eye is above the roller, a fixed-length safety chain is a smart move.
On setups where the bow eye is above the roller, a fixed-length safety chain is a smart move.

On some boat and trailer combinations, you have to run the strap under the roller, but I’ve begun to notice on some boats that it’s an easy mistake to make to run the strap over the roller. I’ve seen some setups where you had to run the strap over the roller, but either the manufacturer or the owner were smart enough to add a fixed-length safety cable or chain that will keep the boat in place in a panic stop on the road.

So we’re clear, the lesson here is to make sure the bow is snug to the trailer bow stop and crank the bow strap tight and under the roller. While we’re at it, I should point out that this is why lots of boats have eyelets on the transom and straps to hold the back down to the trailer. In the end, I got the boat home safely, fixed it up nicely and sold it for not much more than I paid for it. The only thing I got out of that experience, really, was a little wisdom and a good story.

Written by: Brett Becker

Brett Becker is a freelance writer and photographer who has covered
the marine industry for 15 years. In addition to covering the ski boat
and runabout markets for Boats.com, he regularly writes and shoots for
BoatTrader.com. Based in Ventura, Calif., Becker holds a bachelor’s
degree in journalism and a master’s in mass communication from the
University of Central Florida in Orlando.

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