Plenty of blog posts go over the intricacies of backing up a trailer and launching a boat, but few dive into how to trailer a boat from the water. After a full day on the lake, it’s important to know how to properly pull your boat from the water safely and smoothly, especially at a crowded launch.
- Drop off the Driver
Someone needs to back up the tow vehicle. Drop the driver off and give him/her time to get the trailer in place. Back the trailer up far enough into the water so the boat will easily glide up on the rollers. Put the vehicle in park and leave the engine running. Practice proper ramp etiquette and have the boat driver keep the boat near the ramp, but out of the way of other boaters. If you’re alone, tie your boat to the dock before going to get your vehicle.
- Evacuate and Load the Boat
Evacuate other passengers and important items.
When the trailer is properly lined up on the ramp, position the boat so your passengers can step onto the dock. If you can do this while the boat is situated on the trailer, that’s great. If not, have the boat driver drop people off, then line up the boat and SLOWLY drive onto the trailer. Make sure to have someone assist in keeping the boat on course, especially if it’s large enough to be blown off by high winds.
If you’re alone, you can drive the boat onto the trailer or either get in the water (this is where a good pair of water shoes comes in handy) or stand on the dock to guide the boat in place by hand. You can use a bow rope to make this even easier, but most boats are maneuverable enough without one.
Get in line and drive the boat onto the trailer.
- It’s Time to Winch
When the boat is in place, get to the tongue of the trailer and attach the winch strap to the eye of the boat. Then crank the cable and pull the boat securely onto the trailer. Don’t forget to attach the safety chain to the boat.
The winch strap and safety chain should be attached to the eye of the boat.
- Slowly Pull It Ashore
Raise your outboard or sterndrive and SLOWLY pull forward up the ramp. You want to move slowly enough to make sure everything is properly secured. Accelerating too fast could put you back to square one or damage your boat, trailer and/or tow vehicle. Pull out of the way of the next boater.
- Drain and Wash
Drain any livewells and onboard coolers you may have. To prevent the spread of invasive species, make sure to drain any water you took onboard back into the body of water it came from. You’ll also want to clean off your hull. Wash the boat with a hose if you can, and make sure to spray off any vegetation or crustaceans. You don’t want any hitchhikers. The spread of invasive species is a serious ecological issue. Don’t contribute to it.
A propeller covered in an invasive species.
Make sure to unpack and stow all your gear so you can safely drive home. Lower your bimini, tie down water toys, and secure anything else loose onboard. The last thing you want to do after a long day is pick up some life jackets that flew off on the highway. Get home safely so you can plan your next outing and hit the water again as soon as possible.