The challenge of towing a power boat down I-95

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By Lee Scott

We travelers see things all kinds of things in our travels up and down major interstates. Along with speeding buses, there is an endless parade of FedEx trucks, Walmart trucks and numerous nondescript tractor-trailers. There are the RVs filled with Canadians heading south in the winter, and north again in the spring like migrating birds. There are college students with all their worldly belongings piled up in the back seat as they

Lee Scott
Lee Scott

relocate from home to college, and minivans packed with kids as families return from vacation, bicycles hanging off the back of the vehicle.

It is also amazing to see all the things that are towed: motorcycles, go-carts, cars, U-hauls and, of course, boats. And although I have experienced the towing of a boat behind our truck locally within a few miles of our house, it was totally another story towing a boat down Interstate 95 from Washington, D.C., to South Carolina.

First of all, anyone familiar with the D.C. region knows of the treacherous road conditions. Large interstates pour into one another — I-495, I-395, I-295 — and the list of “I”s goes on as you travel farther south. The Springfield bowl is an engineer’s dream of pouring mass quantities of humans in speeding vehicles from one end of the region to the next. This particular area is interesting when driving a Ford F-150 pickup truck towing a 22-foot center console boat.  The cars and 18 wheelers merging onto the highways at 65 miles per hour can be a challenge when trailering anything.  One has to hope that the car doing the merging understands that they can’t just pull out behind you immediately.

Then there is the jersey wall challenge. There are long stretches of construction on I-95 from New England to Florida, and for some reason, along many stretches, these jersey walls have been moved inside of the old white lines. By the looks of the black and white marks on the walls, it appears many vehicles have slid into these concrete barriers. Of course, it is inevitable that when there are jersey walls on both sides of a small bridge, an 18-wheeler truck will choose that moment to pass! It is a challenge not to side swipe the jersey wall or the truck.

Then there are drivers that don’t understand that you are moving over to the left passing lane because there is a car ahead going 45 miles per hour, or worse, another pickup is towing a boat larger than yours. You have to pass them. Frustrated, oncoming vehicles drive up to the back of the trailered boat, fly into the right lane to pass you on the right and slip between you and the vehicle you are trying to pass.  Of course, three other cars have to pass you on the right as you attempt, with your right hand turn signal on, to get back into your normal lane. But first, you have to make sure you have enough speed to get over before another car going 80 mph attempts to pass you on the right. All the rearview and side mirrors can’t anticipate the idiot riding your tail who decides to pull out.

Gas stations are another interesting challenge. You pull into an end lane to fuel the truck and suddenly 50 other cars seem to need fuel also. (Did I mention that pulling a boat lowers your gas mileage considerably? As you pull out of your lane to attempt to get back to the highway, cars are pulling out in front of you because no one wants to get stuck behind the truck with the boat. Now I can understand this feeling, but having to suddenly stop for a white Cadillac cutting us off, necessitated a long horn blast!

My sympathies go out to anyone pulling a boat, or anything else, on the major highways. My suggestion is to leave very early to avoid any traffic congestion, watch out for the nuts on the road and get to your destination safely.

Lee Scott, a writer and recent retiree, shares her everyday observations about life after career.  A former commercial banker responsible for helping her clients to reach their business objectives, Lee now translates those analytical skills to her writings. She recently moved to St. Helena Island with her husband and two cocker spaniels. She enjoys boating, traveling and reading.