Road Trip Tips
Last summer seems like a distant memory as I look towards the coming spring and summer. The sun is out, and the Santana breezes are pushing the temps upwards making it feel like summer. If only the daylight hours matched the temperatures...
Butch reminded me of an informal boat park chat from Nationals up in Eugene and asked me to write about it. At first I totally forgot, but when he prompted me I recalled the chat, and how informal downtime at regattas is a key way to transfer experiences, knowledge, and increase the overall experience for all sailors at the event. We had lots of downtime waiting for the wind to come up so it was kinda like going to a boat show and drift from booth to booth sampling what people had to offer.
I know I came back with lots of good traveling info from Bruce and Margo Golison on setting up rental houses, provisioning and the such. Bruce does a lot of traveling for his Lido 14, J70, Melges 20, and Etchell programs, so hearing what works and what doesn't is fantastic.
At one point I was hanging around my boat and trailer and somehow got to talking about long road trips and what I do to my trailer. This may seem academic, but being anal about hub grease, tire pressure, bearing temperature can make the difference between going up and back to Oregon from SoCal a joy, or a mechanical nightmare.
I've honed my process after numerous trips up and down the west coast and west to east coast. Along the way, I've had my fare share of bad trailering experiences as well. The sabot flew off the trailer heading to San Diego, the Harbor 20 trailer broke an upright off while driving home empty from the east coast while in Colorado. One trip from Newport Beach to Corona I was towing my empty lido trailer when it jumped off the spring mounts. I was dragging the axle sideways up the road. Funny, but with the diesel 3/4 dodge pickup, I didn't feel a thing. People kept honking and pointing back... The tires were shredded and I had to rebuild the entire trailer after that adventure.
Here's some of the things that I do before and during road trips:
- Pre-departure checklist:
Repack wheel bearings
- Check tire pressure
- Pull centerboard, halyards and shrouds
- Check tie down straps and lines
- Pack your parts, spares, tools etc. I travel heavy with lots of tools, parts, fasteners, spare shrouds, sails, lines, and sun screen. , and this year I even had a table saw in the back of the car in case of emergency...
- Trip out:
After the first 50-100 miles, check tie downs, things loosen up when the boat bounces along own the road
Each stop (gas, food, or pee) I put my hand on the trailer wheels and bearings. I want to ensure nothing is hot to the touch. If it's hot, it could rupture (tire) or seize (bearings).
Unpack boat and wash away road grime. Nothing is slower than grease and grit accumulated from 1000 hard miles driven
Assemble boat and ensure all pieces are working as they should. If needed, make any repairs or replacements before you hit the water.
Make sure there is not any water in any tank and install the hole plugs
To go home I simply repeat the process. Once you do it once or twice it'll become second nature.
With careful attention to a couple of simple things, most if not all trailering trips can be an uneventful. When you hit the race course however, all bets are off.