How to launch a boat easily
First impressions in boating are meaningful just as they are in other parts of your life. You might have the most expensive boat around, streamlined and glittering on its trailer, but getting that beauty out on the water is what will separate you from the wannabes to the experienced boaters. Boat launching might sound like a difficult task for beginners, particularly when it comes to the idea of others watching, anxiously awaiting their turn to use the ramp, but if you come prepared, you will find it is rather straightforward. With these pro tips and with a little bit of practice, you'll soon find others asking how you make it look so easy.
Step 1: Inspecting the trailer
Before you can go anywhere, you need to ensure the road worthiness of your trailer. Check the tires (including the spare) and the leaf springs, receiver, and axle hubs. If you need help with any of this, having your trailer serviced is always a good idea. Of course, you should remember to bring the chocks and a jack with you.
Step 2: Load and prepare
Before backing into the ramp where others may be lining up to use it, load everything into the boat that you'll need for your day on the water. Nothing gets the day off on the wrong foot quite like waiting an extra half hour to launch because another boater didn't come prepared. You will also want to set up your fish finder and other gadgets, if you have them, beforehand. Electronics cause enough frustration when the floor isn't rocking beneath your feet. Check that you have plenty of fuel and a fully charged battery.
Next, you'll want to tie on the buoys, insert the drain plug, and unfasten the straps holding the boat to the trailer, being certain not to release the winch line from the bow eye (you won't want your boat to drift away before you've had a chance to tie it to the dock). Also, you'll want to pump your fuel primer (if you have one) at this time. Lastly, ensure the usability of your launch point by noting the angle, surface material, and water current. Check for erosion, potholes, algae, and anything that might cause slippage.
Step 3: Back into the ramp
The safest way to back your trailer into the water is with your vehicle in neutral, not reverse. You should trust your mirrors to get you where you need to be. Pros know their mirrors will show them all they need to see and that checking over their shoulder may slow them down, disorient them needlessly, and actually worsen their view. Of course, if you brought someone along with you to spot, you have a huge advantage here. Once you're finally in the water, the first thing you should do is apply the emergency break in your vehicle. Next, you'll want to trim your outboard until it becomes fully submerged. This way you can ensure your motor's functionality before getting out on the water. Finding out after launch that your motor won't start may ruin your whole day.
Step 4: Launch the boat
Now that you've completed these tedious steps, you're ready for the fun part. Release the winch line followed by the nose hook and, using the bow and stern lines, guide the boat off the trailer and tie it to the dock. Lastly, you'll need to park your truck to clear the way for other boaters. Of course, this entire process will move much faster if you or a friend handle the towing vehicle while the other guides the boat.
Over time, you may find different methods and quirks that work best for you as your unique muscle memory guides the whole process without a thought or even a sweat broken on your part. As you become an expert in your own way, you'll want to be sure to remember at least a few key points:
- Safety is paramount, which means that rushing is never a good idea, even when others are waiting to use the ramp.
- You shouldn't block the ramp for any longer than you need to, which means coming prepared.
- Nobody becomes an expert overnight, but it likely won't take too long to get comfortable. Until then, enjoy your time on the water!
If it's time to upgrade your trailer or other equipment, or if you have further questions about boating and would like advice, please contact us. We are happy to help in any way we can.