Table of Contents

Recent Articles

Tips For Post-Ride Boat Maintenance

7 Red Flags to Avoid When Buying a Boat Online

What You Need to Know About Towing Your Boat

My project (9)

So, you’re ready to buy a boat or upgrade to a new unit. Before you start picking out all the options and add-ons for the dream vessel you have in mind, you need to consider if you have enough towing capacity for what you want to purchase. Even if you plan to keep your bow rider, power boat, or other vessel docked in a marina, it still needs to get to the water from the dealership or the private seller you’re buying from. 

If your current vehicle doesn’t have the towing capacity for the size and weight of your new boat, you can always pay to have it commercially towed and delivered. Keep in mind that this will also mean hiring a tow again in the future if maintenance or repair work will need to be done in the future.

One option is to look for a boat storage facility that can pull your sailboat, day cruiser, or other boat and dry dock store it on your behalf. You will most likely pay a fee each time you want the boat pulled, but the cost may be considerably less expensive than hiring a towing company. But again, you need to be able to get your vessel there in the first place.

On the other hand, if you don’t want to pay a monthly or annual docking fee at a marina and you would rather use a public boat launch to drop off and pick up your boat at each outing, you need to be absolutely sure the vehicle you own is up for the task. To help, Boatline is sharing four main factors to consider when towing your new or used boat.

The Four Main Factors

There are four main facets to consider when towing your vessel:  the vehicle, the hitch, the trailer, and the boat itself.

1. The Vehicle

Check your vehicle’s owner’s manual to find the maximum towing capacity. If you’re only planning to tow a personal watercraft or two, or a small sailboat, then the family sedan, crossover vehicle, or a light-duty truck can probably handle the task. If you’re looking at a bass boat or party barge, you may need a full-size truck or sport utility vehicle (SUV). Anything larger may require a heavy-duty or dually truck. If the boat exceeds 45 feet, you’re likely going to need commercial towing assistance.

2. The Hitch

There are five different classes of hitches. A Class I hitch can tow up to 2,000 pounds. A Class II hitch is good for up to 3,500 pounds. A Class III hitch can take you to 8,000 pounds. A Class IV hitch hauls up to 14,000 pounds. And a Class V hitch is needed for anything up to 17,000 pounds.

3. The Trailer

Probably the easiest part of the equation, the trailer needed to tow your vehicle will often be sold with the boat or as a package, so you don’t need to do any calculations. The trailer’s capacity is usually based on the length and weight of the boat. However, don’t forget to include the weight of the trailer in the overall weight your vehicle will be towing.

4. The Boat

When determining the towing equation for the boat you want, you need to know if the weight provided includes the engine. Many times, a weight the manufacturer provides does not include the weight of the motor(s) which can add significant heft if you are dropping in a couple of 250-horsepower outboards. Also, the weight provided is often what is known as a “dry weight,” which means it does not include the extra mass of a fully filled gas tank, freshwater reserves, or whatever extras you plan to have on the boat for your outing. Keep these factors in consideration.

Power to Burn: Towing Distance

Another thing to keep in mind is how far you intend to tow your boat. If you’re only traveling a couple of miles on surface streets to get to a boat launch, the basic recommendations above should suffice. However, if you plan to take your boat on vacation with you, the area you’re traveling to could tip the scales a bit.

For example, if your trip will take you into the mountains or other hilly terrain, you might need a little extra horsepower and/or torque to get up those steeper grades without causing a traffic jam behind you. If the road will be flat and smooth but you may need some extra power to pass slower vehicles, power is definitely your friend.

Obviously, there is a lot to consider when it comes to the total towing equation. If you ever have any questions, ask your local boat dealer. They can make recommendations on what boat will work with your current vehicle and they can even make recommendations on which vehicle to buy for the boat you want if you decide to go that route. Also, if your vehicle doesn’t currently have a tow hitch, your dealer can help you determine which one is right for your needs, and they can usually install it for you. 

If you’re looking for your next boat to haul over to your favorite waterways, be sure to check out all the watercraft available for sale nationwide on

By Barrett Baker



Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Keona Frasier
Keona Frasier

Other Resources

Tips For Post-Ride Boat Maintenance

7 Red Flags to Avoid When Buying a Boat Online

9 Tips For Deep-Sea Fishing From Your Boat

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *