Boat Trailer Towing Tip: No Cover

This is a quick trailer towing tip for boaters. Many boaters know this already but people often ask if they should tow their boat with the top or cover on, and the short answer is no. There are a few reasons why and I’ll try and address them here. Obviously, anytime you’re towing, inspect your trailer and tow vehicle carefully. Check lug nuts, air pressure, bearings and all tied downs and straps. The hitch and connection to your trailer is critical, but this is specifically addressing tops and covers.

Here is why you shouldn’t tow with a boat top. Most boat tops are heavy duty canvas and button or connect to your windshield. If you’re going down the highway, the top will trap air, and become like a sail, pulling extremely hard on the snaps and windshield. In a worst case scenario, the windshield can rip off. Sounds far fetched but I’ve seen it multiple times. Another factor that is related is it will stretch out and damage the top either way.

Second, aerodynamics are an important thing the faster you are travelling, so long distance highway travel, it is best to have no top on at all, as to not hamper aerodynamics. You will be dragging a boat anyway, negatively affecting your mileage, so this would make it far worse. There is no real good reason to tow with your top up and not only is it damaging to your boat and top, it is dangerous.

Covers are different. A custom fitted cover can tow and some are made to. But, I would use caution. Over time, rubbing from any buffering or movement can damage your finish. Always check the tie down straps too, make sure they are not stretched or damaged. If your cover is fitted, and has no loose areas, you should be okay. Keep in mind, going into the wind at highway speeds can be extremely stressful to that top, so keep an eye on it.

Typically, if the weather is nice, I would say go without. On a longer trip or when the weather is bad, then use it. Sometimes cleaning a boat is easier than repairing damage to the finish, or having a cover blow off on the highway.

Shrink wrap can be used for towing, if it is the extra thick kind, and is prepared properly. Even then, use the same caution. Countless times I have seen damaged wrap flapping and causing damage to the boat and potentially creating a dangerous situation on the highway. When in doubt, just tow the boat without a cover.

Again, use your own judgement but know that most boats can be washed pretty easily, but you can do some damage with a poor fitting cover or top. If it’s bad weather and you have a fitted cover, go for it. I prefer towing without.