More people than ever are towing boat trailers behind their RVs (Recreational Vehicles) and travel trailers. However, towing a boat from the back of an RV generally is more complicated than towing behind a car, SUV or pickup. In the towing world, a Class-A motorhome towing a boat trailer would be known as a double-tow, while towing a boat trailer with a truck towing a fifth-wheel is known as a triple-tow.
Overall, a double-tow setup is easier to operate than a triple-tow. According to Brett Becker, the publisher of the Online Towing Guide, a triple-tow configuration is a serious undertaking.
“If somebody wants to take on triple-towing, I suggest over-engineering everything and siding with caution at every step,” Becker explained. “Two trailers and a tow vehicle is a lot of mass and energy. Take it seriously and do it properly, or don’t do it at all.”
The rules and regulations for double- and triple-towing vary by state and are constantly changing. Before towing, check the Department of Motor Vehicles website for each state they will be passing through for the latest regulations.
Here are a few more tips for towing a boat from an RV.
Verify tow capacity: Make sure that your RV has enough towing capacity to pull your boat, and that your hitch can take the load, especially if you need to use a hitch extender. Also be sure to grease the trailer bearings thoroughly, even excessively. You won’t know if they’re overheating, because you can’t see them.
Be sure you are insured: In addition to having good collision insurance, it makes sense to insure yourself for liability situations as well. If, for whatever reason, your boat comes uncoupled and takes out three other cars, you want to have the coverage you need.
Leave room for braking: This is especially true for a triple-tow situation – panic stopping with two trailers in tow does not work well. If you follow too closely and have to jump on the brakes to keep from hitting something in front you, odds are good your trailers aren’t going to stay in a straight line.
Make wide turns: Make sure that there’s enough clearance between your boat and your RV when you turn tightly. In tight turns, the corners of the boat may rub against the corners of your RV, which is bad all around.
See behind you: Find a way to be able to watch your boat under tow, either directly via a wireless web cam, or virtually via wireless tire pressure sensors, or both. If you can’t see the rig you’re towing, it’s imperative to put pressure and temperature sensors on the trailer tires, or you won’t know that your trailer is dragging down the road on a rim instead of an inflated tire.
Practice at the boat ramp: You can’t see behind as well from an RV, and you don’t want it to wind up in the water. Your best bet is to find a good local freshwater launch ramp and practice as many times as it takes to figure out a routine that works for you and your rig. When you are backing up, go slowly, and station somebody outside the RV to watch and shout in case of trouble. Keep your windows down and your sound system off so you can hear.
Make frequent inspections: Always perform a complete walk-around inspection of your RV, boat and trailer before you pull onto the road. Then, stop at the first rest area and do another walk-around to find and fix problems, especially with tires, hitches, and boat covers. Keep up the inspections throughout the trip and you will prevent any problems before they start.