It’s a beautiful day and the lake is calling. You’ve trailered to the launch point, but now comes the tricky part. Follow these steps to a smooth, safe and efficient boat launch.
1. INSPECT THE LAUNCH
Look at the ramp for any submerged hazards, sharp drop-offs or algae-covered slippery spots.
2. INSPECT THE BOAT
Test-start the engine while your boat is still on the trailer to make sure it’s running properly. Make sure the bilge drain plugs are securely tightened. Raise the outboard motor to the upper limit of its range. Center the steering.
3. SWITCH TO FOUR WHEEL DRIVE
If your vehicle has the option, switch to 4WD and Low Range.
4. CHECK THE TRAILER
Disconnect the tail-lamp power. Remove the tie-down straps on the transom. Unhook the bow strap attached to the winch and secure the hook. Disable the trailer brakes (if your trailer has them) with the lever located in front of the trailer tongue.
5. USE YOUR HELPER
Have someone familiar with boat starting, shifting and steering climb aboard.
6. PREPARE THE VEHICLE & START THE LAUNCH
Lower the windows and adjust the mirrors on the tow vehicle so you can watch the boat as it enters the water. Begin slowly backing up, keeping the boat centered on the ramp. If the trailer starts to turn, drive forward and try again. As the boat enters the water, occasionally tap the brakes.
7. STOP & LAUNCH
Stop just before the tow vehicle’s rear wheels reach the water’s edge. The boat should now be floating free from the trailer. Have your helper lower the trim, start the engine and back up the boat.
8. SLOWLY DRIVE FORWARD
Accelerate slowly and carefully, and steer away from algae patches to avoid slipping. When you’ve cleared the ramp, stop and reattach the tail-lamp cable.
To launch solo, you’ll need a mooring line tied to a dock or the trailer to hold your boat. When you’ve stopped the launch vehicle when the rear wheels are at the water’s edge, put the vehicle in park and board the boat (walk down the trailer’s tongue to stay dry). Detach the mooring line, lower the trim, start the engine, drive the boat to a dock and tie off before removing your vehicle from the ramp. Solo launching is time consuming, so be courteous of fellow launchers and try to have a helper whenever possible to keep the line moving.