Trailers Changed The Face of Boating

Going on wheels democratized a once blue-blood-only sport.

Choosing the Right Boat Trailer
Trailer boating democratizes the aquatic life.Tom King

Can you name an invention or innovation with more societal impact than the automobile? The computer might be a contender. In any event, the car did more than change the way we live. It also changed the way we boat.

Boating had been the province of those who lived near the waterfront. That residency granted access to moorings, docks and quays where boats could be kept. Certainly, small boats were stored ashore and pushed in from the beach, and in colder climes, a marine railway or a team of draft animals would haul out boats for the winter, but for the most part, if you wanted to go boating, you lived on the coast, or near the shore of a lake or river.

With the rise of the car came a paradigm shift in recreational boating, one that would shape the sport itself and, indeed, give way to new lifestyles based upon the aquatic life. One no longer needed to live near water to enjoy the water aboard a boat of one’s very own. A boat could be purchased and placed on wheels, and a family living many hours from the water could water-ski, fish, cruise and enthusiastically enjoy the boating lifestyle.

Read more of Kevin Falvey's "All Aboard Boats" blog posts.

Trailering offered—and still offers—financial and other benefits compared to boats stored wet. The owner of a trailer boat need not incur fees for docking or mooring when the boat could be rolled up his driveway, into his side yard, or into his garage or barn. Corrosion proves less worrisome to trailer boaters, as does the stress and risk of damage that storms wreak on owners who dock or moor their boats. Distant waters can be reached more quickly with a trailered boat than they can with a boat in the water, with less stress on the boat, less fuel burned, and less reliance on fair weather to make the trip.

I realize I am alluding much to the stereotypical image that trailer boating conjures in the minds of many. And certainly, the small boat kept at home and delivered economically to the site by trailer is an excellent way to go boating. But that stereotype paints an incomplete picture. One need only visit a busy launch ramp on a summer Saturday to see that trailer boats range in cost from the economical to the astronomical, and that those of great means purposefully decide to trailer the boat, irrespective of economic considerations.

Long live the boat trailer.