Starboard Trailer Bunk Slide FAQs
May 16, 2023 5 min read
There are a few boat upgrades out there that are simply no-brainers — universally beneficial, inexpensive, easy to do and with virtually no downsides. Take switching from incandescent to LED lighting for example. LEDs last many times longer, use less electricity, take up less room and stay cooler. Their only conceivable downside — unless you just enjoy replacing bulbs — is that they cost a bit more upfront.
Trading the carpeting on your trailer’s bunks for King Starboard bunk slides falls into the same category. The Starboard slides are a bit more expensive, but they last far longer, make launching and loading easier and take all of 20 minutes to install. Yes, like LEDs, they’re a little more expensive upfront, but more than worth it.
"The Starboard slides are a bit more expensive, but they last far longer, make launching and loading easier and take all of 20 minutes to install. "
So why doesn’t everybody use them? Mainly because most boaters don’t know a lot about them. Their only potential drawback — which isn’t a drawback for most situations — is that they are SLICK, like having a roller trailer without all the moving parts to break and corrode. Nine times out of 10, that makes launching and loading easier. But you may have to alter your routine at the ramp. Specifically, NEVER unhook your winch strap or safety chain until you’re ready for the boat to leave the trailer.
Let’s address a few other common questions:
Will Starboard bunk slides mark or scratch my hull?
Nope. Starboard is non-marring and won’t damage aluminum or fiberglass, nor will it leave marks. It will wear paint off over time, but no more so than carpeted bunks. Pebbles, pieces of shell or other small objects that get between your hull and a Starboard bunk slide, though, may do more damage than they would with carpeted bunks, simply because they can be pushed down into the carpet more easily. Think about the difference between stepping on a Lego on a wood floor vs. a carpeted floor. It never hurts to check that your bunks are free of debris — no matter what they’re covered with — before backing your trailer into the water to load your boat.
"Starboard is non-marring and won’t damage aluminum or fiberglass, nor will it leave marks. "
How long do Starboard bunk slides last?
Until the cows come home. Starboard is virtually impervious to UV, moisture, salt and wear. That’s one of the main advantages of Starboard bunk slides: unlike carpet, they never have to be replaced. The only thing you need to keep an eye on is the screws holding the slides to the bunks, which live a tough life. If you see corrosion starting, just replace the affected screw(s).
"That’s one of the main advantages of Starboard bunk slides: unlike carpet, they never have to be replaced. "
Are Starboard bunk slides slicker than carpet?
You bet, way slicker. So slick, in fact, that you should never loosen your winch strap until the back of your boat is in or over the water. In most situations, that slickness is desirable and makes both launching and retrieving much easier. With many boat-trailer combinations, it also means you don’t have to back in nearly as far. And honestly, you shouldn’t be backing down or driving up the ramp without your winch strap connected anyway.
"The lightly textured surface of Starboard makes it very slick. Boats slide off as easily as from a roller trailer. "
Do they mount over the carpet, or does the carpet have to come off first?
The carpet doesn’t have to come off, but we normally recommend removing it and screwing the slides straight to the bunks. Carpet absorbs water and holds it against the wood of your bunks. Wood bunks will last longer without the carpet. On the other hand, if the wood underneath your existing carpet is unsightly, it doesn’t hurt to keep the carpet on for a cleaner appearance.
"Starboard bunk slides can be mounted either over existing carpet or directly to wood bunks. "
Besides being slicker and lasting longer, are there any other advantages?
We’re glad you asked. Again, carpet holds water like a sponge, which is bad not just for wood bunks but also, to a lesser degree, boat bottoms. Starboard bunk slides don’t get wet like carpet. That’s an especially big deal for aluminum boats. The copper used in pressure-treated lumber, a common material for bunk boards, doesn’t get along well with aluminum, and over time it can leach through your wet carpet and cause corrosion problems. Saltwater makes matters worse. But Starboard effectively isolates your boat bottom from the bunk boards.
"Starboard bunk slides don’t get wet like carpet. That’s an especially big deal for aluminum boats. "
How do Starboard slides attach to bunks?
Slides can be simply screwed to your trailer bunks with #8 by 1” screws. Through-bolting is even better but not really necessary. Note that good quality slides have recessed screw holes with flat bottoms for use with pan head or truss head fasteners. Flat head screws or bolts, which have a conical shape on the bottom of the head, can spread out the mounting holes over time.
"Starboard bunk slides install in minutes with #8 self-tapping screws. Boat Outfitters supplies stainless steel truss-head screws. "
Are all plastic bunk slides the same?
No way. There are a number of plastic bunk coverings out there, some of which work — and last — better than others. We don’t think there’s any substitute for solid King Starboard when it comes to longevity and slickness. Also, most slides are available in predetermined widths and lengths. We cut ours to your width and length exact specifications.
Why don’t bunk slides come in longer lengths?
Because they don’t really need to. At Boat Outfitters, we cut our bunk slides crossways from 96” x 54” sheets of Starboard, so the longest we offer is 53”. But we cut them to your length and width specifications, so you can simply order two pieces for longer bunks. For a 96” bunk, for example, you’d order two 48” pieces and butt them against one another in the middle of the bunk. Other manufacturers do sell longer pieces of bunk glide, but shipping costs add up, and there’s no real drawback to using two separate pieces.