With cold weather on the horizon, most recreational boaters north of the Mason-Dixon Line are preparing to haul out and winterize their crafts. Towing a boat out of the water and down the road is easy when using the right equipment. That's why many boaters rely on GMC's Professional Grade trucks or sport utility vehicles.
According to GMC customer survey data, nearly a third of Sierra 1500 owners tow boats, and nearly eight out of 10 Sierra owners use their vehicles for some kind of towing. U.S. Coast Guard and Forest Service statistics indicate there are nearly 13 million recreational boats registered in the country, with 82 million Americans participating annually.
"When you're towing a heavy load, you want to be confident that your vehicle is up to the task and that your boat will be safe and sound," said Rob Krouse, lead trailering engineer, General Motors. "When you have a vehicle that can more than handle the added weight of your boat and trailer, it gives you peace of mind."
Maintaining control of a heavy load also means avoiding rollovers. StabiliTrak electronic stability control provides more precise, controlled stops, as well as enhanced traction/yaw stability to keep truck and boat stable.
Before hitching up, it is important to calculate the combined weight of a boat and trailer. For example, a 24-foot-long deck boat may weigh 4,150 pounds, but when paired with the trailer its weight will probably exceed 5,500 pounds. Even with the added weight of an anchor and chain, canvas top, emergency radio, sound system, cushions, ice, food and beverages, the total is still within the limits of a light-duty full-size pickup truck like the Sierra 1500, which can tow up to 10,700 pounds, depending on the model.
Comparatively, full-size heavy-duty pickups, such as GMC's 2011 2500HD and 3500HD, are capable of towing up to 13,000 and 17,000 pounds, respectively, using a ball hitch. They can tow even heavier loads such as campers or trailers when equipped with a fifth-wheel or gooseneck hitch. These trucks also come equipped with more advanced control features such as trailer sway control, hill start assist, integrated trailer brake control and, on diesel-equipped models, an exhaust brake.
As an alternative to pickup trucks, some boaters rely on a full-size SUV, such as GMC Yukon or Yukon XL, which tow between 5,000 to 9,600 pounds depending on the model. Shane Longdin of Wisconsin uses a Yukon to tow a 21-foot wakeboard boat.
"I used to have another SUV with a shorter wheelbase and smaller motor, but it struggled to stop and get going when towing the boat. That is not an issue with my Yukon," Longdin said. "The Yukon also feels much more stable at highway speeds than my previous ride."
Most boat owners know that slippery ramps can be a problem, and low tongue weight percentage, which is common for boat trailers, does not help rear traction. This makes it important to back down the ramp only as far as needed to be able to get the boat onto the trailer. GMC's 4WD or AWD vehicles can be a big help in these situations because the front tires are much more likely to be on dry, algae-free portion of ramp.
Backing up a trailer can also be a challenge, especially if the ramp is crowded and the driver feels pressured to get out quickly. Of course, it is easier to see over and around an empty trailer, but GMC's trailering experts recommend consulting owner manuals to make hauling out as smooth as possible. In addition, boaters should be sure the boat winch and all tie downs are properly secured before setting off from the ramp.
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