Trailering and launching your boat

Of course, you’re excited, everyone gets that! The best advice anyone can give a new boater before launching and trailering their boat is to practice. Remember how much you paid for this expensive piece of entertainment? Have a plan before heading to the boat ramp for the first time. Find a safe and open parking lot and practice backing up. Showing up at the boat ramp without knowing how to reverse your trailer could be dangerous and costly.  Weekdays are normally less active than weekends.


Backing up with your trailer

Safety first! Be aware of what and who is around you always. Have your vehicle and trailer as straight as possible. While backing up slowly, use your side view mirrors to watch the trailer. If your trailer turns while trying to back up straight, turn your steering wheel in the opposite direction of your trailer. Move slowly to avoid jackknifing.

The more you practice, the more comfortable you will become. Before long you’ll be able to back up long stretches without jackknifing. 

At the ramp

Being prepared is the most important rule before you set up on the ramp.

Check list:

  • Equipment Safely stored
  • The boat drain plug is in
  • The boat key is in the ignition
  • Fastening Straps have been removed
  • Lights are disconnected
  • The bow line is properly tied to the boat


The safety chain and winch strap stay connected until you reach the water. They are both quick to release when it is time to launch. Once the stern is hanging over the water release the winch strap, remove pins and any other device that keeps the outboard from tilting downward. Back the boat down until the trailer wheels are submerged in the water. Once the boat is ready to float off have your assistant take the bowline and tie it securely to the dock when you have the boat free of the trailer. An experienced assistant can fire up the boat and move it away from the dock and wait for you to park.

The launching process should be done quick and as swift as possible as a courtesy to the other boaters.

Getting back on the trailer

For the most part, the same rules apply. Some other awareness factors will occur. Being rushed or tired is common – you need to overcome these situations and remain focused on the task.

Tie the boat off to the dock, make sure you have the keys to your vehicle, and get in line to remove your boat. Before taking the boat out of the water make sure the outboard is tilted up.

Keeping the boat in working order at the beginning your day will help to avoid common issues.