Prep For Launch
It is a best practice to get everything ready for the boat launching before you start backing up to the water. Once you have reached the lake pull to the side and go through your checklist. Doing this before you’re backed up to the water and lined up saves you time and helps you avoid being “that guy” who’s blocking the boat ramp.
After you are out of the way park your vehicle and immediately go and make sure the drain plug is installed correctly. This will help you create a habit of checking and you won’t end up with a huge headache. Afterwards remove the motor stabilizer and transom straps. It is a good idea to tilt your engine up so that the lower unit or prop doesn’t get damaged by a boat ramp that is in bad repair.
Make sure you have everything already loaded in the boat you want to take with you. It is also a good idea to double check you have the ignition key, disconnect the trailer lights, all fastening straps are removed, and a safety rope tied to your boat. It is best to leave your safety chain and winch strap connected until you’ve got the boat near the edge of the water. It only takes a second to jump out and remove any device or pins that hold the motor in place, and the final strap and chain.
Descending Down The Ramp
To start you need to position your truck and trailer so they are as straight as you can get them and about a trailer length from the water, if you can. Short trailers like those that carry boats are actually more tricky than larger semi-truck trailers to back up. It is a good rule to turn as little as you can once you are straight. Gripping the wheel at the bottom and making slight adjustments as you back down the boat ramp will help you avoid jack knifing.
Watch Your Mirrors & Use Minor Movements
Keep your eyes on the trailer by watching it out of the truck and through using your mirrors. Remember when it is opposite when backing up a trailer. If it is hanging out to the right you need to steer your truck slightly left and then back to straight once the problem is corrected. Ultimately you should take your time to get this right.
Launching Your Boat
To show courtesy it is best to do this as smoothly, quickly, and as courteously as possible. Already having everything you need in your boat, and the majority of the pre-launch checklist handled first helps you get the job done safely and quickly. Once you have reverse far enough that the boat has begun to float you can disconnect the boat and tie the boat off at the dock. You can also beach the boat depending on the condition of the shore.
If you are launching the boat yourself once the boat is free floating make sure your truck is in park with the parking brake engaged and grab your keys. Disconnect your boat from the winch and straps and board your boat safely using your boat trailer as a bridge to keep you out of the water. Drive your boat over to the dock or beach and tie it off. Get back to your truck and go park it in the lot.
Getting Your Boat Out of the Water
Getting your boat back on the trailer works much the same way. Line up the truck and trailer and then slowly back up so that the rear wheels of the trailer are in the water. Next you will need to have someone drive the boat up so you can connect the winch cable and begin to pull the boat securely onto the trailer. If this process is too difficult you may consider backing up further, but use extreme caution not to back into the water too far. Many trucks and SUVs have been lost to careless actions on boat ramps.