Holli Henry under a trailered boat
As wake boat sales increased 20 percent and fishing and pontoon boat sales increased 12 percent in 2020 throughout the U.S., according to The National Marine Manufacturers Association in January — so have trailer accidents, according to Holli Henry from El Cajon.
“Everyone is trailering more than ever, and people should be careful not just for the vessels they’re towing, but for the others and their families on the road.”
Holli Henry and her husband Royce Henry manage Henry’s Trailer Repair and Mobile Service, about three miles east of the I-8 and El Cajon Blvd. exit. I spoke to Holli on May 10.
“We help over 1000 trailers owners a year. I’ve seen where people have bearing failures where the hub and wheel go flying off into the windshield of the car behind them; I had to go out there and tell the CHP what happened.”
“Then there are accidents that happen at the boat ramps, like when people don’t know how to back up on the launch ramp, and they’re clogging the ramp, or they’re not parking it safely.”
On April 24, lifeguardsofsandiego posted a photo on their Instagram of a truck fully submerged in the water. The truck, with its lights still. on, seems to be about 25 feet away from the shoreline. “Always double check you are in park, and [the] emergency brake is on while using the launch ramps on Mission Bay,” reads the caption. “No one was hurt last night in this accident. Lifeguards and SDPD worked together to retrieve the vehicle and take the incident report.”
Then on May 4, lifeguardsofsandiego posted another photo and captioned it: “[Lifeguards] responded to a truck that jackknifed while trying to put their boat in the water. No one was hurt. Please be safe while at the boat launches this year.”
“It’s because of all of these newbie boaters that have never trailered before,” said Rey, a jogger who jogs past the Mission Bay boat ramp regularly. “On the weekends, people are honking and yelling at one another by the ramp; it’s a zoo out here, sometimes.”
Boats.com explains. “Proper etiquette plays a big role in boating. And perhaps nowhere is etiquette more essential — and appreciated — than at the launch ramp.”
WaveRunners, Sea-Doos, and Jetskis, are popular here at Mission Bay, which according to the marine manufacturers association’s report that I spoke of earlier, are personal watercraft. In 2020, they increased about “8 percent” of U.S. sales, which is equivalent to about “82,000 units.”
“A single axle trailer for a jetski is more difficult to back up than a tandem axle trailer,” Holli explained. “What people don’t know is those can fishtail more, and there’s not that much turn radius.”
Holli and her husband offer classes on how to back up trailers and load and unload vessels at the boat ramps.
“And we do about 5-6 trailer rescues a day on weekends, and after May of last year, when people realized boating was a great way to get out, social distance, and have fun, we’ve been slammed ever since.”
“Besides ignorance, what are other causes of these boat trailer accidents?” I asked Holli.
“Some trailers are not properly functioning because the brakes are ten years old, and they’re rusted shut. And some boaters think they can run their trailers until it falls apart and they have a bearing failure, which does help my business quite a bit because we fix those regularly, but we’d rather see everyone in here for the annual maintenance not limping in.
“Normally people will spend a ton of money on a boat, and sometimes they get mad because they have to spend money on maintaining a trailer, but at the end of the day, the boats can’t get to the water unless the trailers are properly functioning.”