I’ve been wondering if I was going to buy my next boat, how tall would it be on a trailer? Would it fit in my garage, and can it pass under a low bridge? I needed to know how tall would be the top of my center console on a trailer of something like a 22-25 feet boat. So I did some research on how tall are some of the boats on a trailer, with a few examples.
A boat on a trailer is 2 to 2.5 feet taller than the “bridge clearance” listed on your manufacturer’s specifications. For example, a 22-25 feet boat will usually be above 10 feet tall on a trailer, with some exceptions. Often times it’s above 10 feet going to 11’, and with a radar or a hardtop it can go up to 12 or 13 feet. A 30ft boat with a radar could go up to 14 feet.
There are shorter boats on trailers, 8 or 9 feet but if you’re trying to fit them inside your garage they somehow always end up being taller than you need them. If you’re buying a new trailer for your sailboat, then it’s advisable to check the weight of the boat beforehand.
Dimensions will depend a lot on a trailer, but also if you have a radar or accessories on top and can they be removed. I wrote a couple of tips below that might help you determine how tall or wide your garage needs to be or if you’re passing under a bridge. Now let’s take a look at some of the examples.
Average Boat Height on a Trailer (examples)
One thing that I’ve realized it that there is no average trailer, or average boat height on a trailer, they vary. But, I’ve scoured some forums and made a list of different boat heights on trailers based on what some boat owners shared, and here they are:
- A 22’ Grady (with hardtop and accessories) is just under 12’
- A Hewescraft 22’ with the top would be about 9’
- A Mastercraft X14 will barely make it under 10’
- A 22 feet Robalo would be about 9-10 feet tall on a trailer (12-13 feet with a hardtop).
- A Baha 299 30’ will fit under a 14’ height.
- A starcraft islander is around 11.5’ (or 10.5’ with rod holders removed)
- A 20’ center console, like Grady White 209 Escape, can be above 10 feet tall on a trailer, and would not fit in a 10’ garage door
- An 2006 X2 MCX could fit under 8’ door with tower folded down
- 24’ Robalo with the hardtop on the trailer is about 11.5ft tall.
- A 1997 Sea Ray 250 Sundancer would fit under a 10’ tall door
- 24’ Yellowfin Bay without a T top is under 8ft
- A 27’ Chaparral 270 would be about 11’5” on a trailer
- A 2006 Contender 25 open with T Top and garmin dome radar is about 11’9”
- A 28’ Wellcraft on a trailer could be up to 12.5’ tall
- A 25 with open array is about 13ft
- 2002 Sea Pro 235 WA w/hardtop is just under 11′ without radar
- A 26 foot cuddy could maybe fit in 8’ door, but barely
- A 30 feet with the radar and outriggers is 14’ on a trailer
- 23’ Hydrasport Vector with T-top is about 11’5” on a trailer
- Sea Hunt Triton 225 is 11’5” to the top of the T-top mounted radar dome
- 23’ Key West 2300 WA is 13’ at the radar dome
- 21’ Cape Horn is about 10’8” on the trailer without radar (11’6” with radar)
- 20ft Sea Fox – 9’6” to the top of grab rail
The minimum height added by a trailer is determined by the height of the tops of the axle, plus the added height needed for the prings action, at least 2 or 3 inches. A boat can’t fit on a trailer with the keel below the axle.
There is no average height for boats on a trailer, because trailers vary, and it also depends on your boat, does it have a hardtop, etc. For certain types of boats we can approximate a heigth on a trailer, but we can never be certain untill we put it on a trailer and measure ourselves. However, we can approximate a bit.
Can Your Boat Fit in Your Garage?
A 13 feet garage door height size should clear any boat you might want to have. My garage is about 9 feet tall, but I feel like that won’t be enough for my next boat.
To be completely sure if your boat can enter your garage on a trailer, the best advice I’ve seen is to tow your boat to the garage, then back in slowly to see if you have clearance. And even when you measure, any angle to the driveway will have an effect on clearance.
For example, for a 11’6” boat on a trailer you might want to go with a garage door dimensions of 12 foot high and at least 10 foot in width.
To cover all possible boats that you can tow without a permit, than a garage of about 14.7 feet high would cover all the bases.
If your boat is above a certain height you need a permit to tow it. For most of the states you can’t trailer without a permit if it’s over 13 feet 6 inches (up to 14.6 feet for some states) so a door to open at least 14’ can cover most of them, with finished floor and door clearance. A Baha 299 (30’ boat) would fit nicely under a 14’ height.
The trailer is going to be 6-12 inches wider than the boat, or 102 inches, whichever is smaller because 102” is the maximum legal width for vehicles without permit
If you’re unsure and you’re thinking about re-doing your garage door, to be on the safe side, it’s best to build your garage door a bit taller than you feel is enough. Say, a one feet taller.
Can Your Boat Fit in Your Garage by Length?
Many garages aren’t deep enough so I had to take the length of the garage into consideration. A good advice is to allow for an additional 3 feet of length to the actual boat length to allow for the outdrives and the trailer winch, if the trailer tongue folds. It’s a good advice to add another 3 feet for non-folding.
A 25’ boat can be up to 30’ in length when on a trailer, but it varies from trailer to trailer and also depends on the boat manufacturer. Some boats are actually a few feet longer or shorter than the advertised length, depending on the manufacturer.
Here are a few examples:
- a 28’ Wellcraft could be up to 36’ long on a trailer,
- a 2014 Mastercraft X2 is 20 feet, and on single axle trailer with tongue folded is about 20’ 10” long, and 25’ otherwise,
- a 2006 X2 MCX is 20 feet, and can fit in 21’ long garage with platform removed and tongue folded up. Otherwise 25’ needed.
General advice is to always add a few more feet than you think will be enough. It is very difficult to install taller doors in your garage, but much harder to make your garage deeper, so it’s important to take into account the length of your garage, for your next boat.
Can Your Boat Pass Under a Low Bridge (trailer and in water)?
For trailers, to calculate how high will your boat be, you need to look at the “bridge clearance”, on your manufacturer’s specifications. Bridge clearance will tell you how high the top of the arch is to the water line.
Once you know this, add 2 to 2.5 feet depending on the trailer. This can vary, from trailer to trailer.
When it comes to water, it depends on a few factors. For many sailboats the bridge is raised for them if they need to pass, and for them this is the best of possible outcome as you don’t need to worry if it’s your first time.
You need to know your air draft. The vessel’s “clearance” is the distance in excess of the air draft which allows a vessel to pass safely under a bridge or obstacle such as power lines, etc. A bridge’s “clearance below” is most often noted on charts as measured from the surface of the water to the under side of the bridge at the chart datum Mean High Water.
In 2014, the United States Coast Guard reported that 1.2% of the collisions it investigated in the recent past were due to vessels attempting to pass underneath structures with insufficient clearance.
Normally, if a bridge has 10 feet of clearance to pass safely, then you may be able to pass if your boat manual says you have less than 10ft of clearance, however I would try and go under a taller one first. If it’s a close call, then go for the low tide when going for the first time out.
Very important to slow down when passing under.
Bridge clearance at slow idle could very easily be 1 feet more than at planing speed, unless you’re a risk-taker and put your outdrives at 45° then throttle up so hard so that the back end of the boat would drop a bit (I don’t recommend this approach).
Here’s a real trick if you’re not sure: stand in the stern of the boat and look at the bridge over the highest point of the boat. If the bridge appears to rise relative to the high point on the boat as you approach, you will clear the bridge. If it appears to drop as you approch, you won’t.
Hopefully I’ve helped you as much as I’ve helped myself by researching about heights of boats on trailers, and what to actually pay attention to when buying a new boat. That’s: clearance, advice from other boat owners, always tow your boat to your garage to have a correct measure, and take it slow under bridges.
Cover photo source: thehulltruth.com