Launching a boat alone may seem like a daunting endeavor. We have all heard the stories- the truck, trailer, and craft all taking an unexpected swim together.

While this is uncommon, it is indeed a dangerous, embarrassing, and costly error. Let’s look at a few tips to make launching your vessel alone a breeze. 

It’s All In The Prep Work

Preparation should always begin before you pull the boat out of the driveway. Avoid the hassle of even driving to the ramp until you are fully prepared.

  • Ensure that all of the tie-down straps and bow winch are snug
  • Connect the trailer coupler securely the hitch and place the pin 
  • Inspect the tires for uneven wear and test all lights
  • Lock the motor in its upright position
  • Stow all gear and lose objects to avoid losing them on the road. 
  • Ensure antennas and fishing rods are laid down to avoid contact with bridges and trees
  • Start the boat in the driveway by attaching a hose to ensure water is flowing through the motor; doing this will help prevent any surprises like a dead battery or undiscovered mechanical issue. 

Arriving At The Boat Ramp

Boat ramps are often a hectic place with traffic from not only other boaters but by those who are looking to spend a day waterside in a lounge chair. 

  • Pull your vehicle off to the side away from traffic to begin launching preparations.
  • Remove tie-down straps with the exception of the bow winch
  • Install the drain plug snuggly
  • Remove the motor like and slightly angle it downward but not low enough to drag along the ground
  • Remove all gear from the tow vehicle and place it on the boat
  • Attach and position dock lines and fenders, so you are prepared to pull the boat to a dock when parking the vehicle
  • Wait in line to back the trailer down the ramp.

Ready To Back Down

Once the boat is ready to be launched, position the vehicle and trailer to be backed straight down the ramp. The key is not to feel rushed, take your time. Patience will pay off by avoiding mistakes and allowing you to line up the trailer. 

  • Slowly back the trailer down the ramp as they can be slippery, particularly when wet. 
  • Use your mirrors to remain aligned. If you get off track, pull forward and line up again
  • Back the trailer into the water far enough that the back of the boat lifts from the trailer bunks
  • Place the truck in park and apply the emergency brake.
  • Carefully exit the vehicle but walk cautiously to prevent injury
  • Take hold of the already positioned bowline and remove the bow winch strap
  • Climb onboard, lower the engine to a safe level, and start the motor
  • Pull the boat off of the trailer and secure it to the dock.

Finish It Up

The biggest challenge is over! Just a couple more steps before you’re off navigating your waterways.

  • Step back in your vehicle, hold the brake peddle while removing the emergency brake, shift it into drive, and pull forward gently
  • Find an open designated truck and trailer parking spot. Keep it within the lines to avoid others from clipping your trailer with sharp turns
  • Secure all valuables or bring them along with you
  • Lock the vehicle, and away you go

Now comes the time for what you have prepared for an enjoy the most, spending time on the water. While launching a boat alone is more challenging than with a helpful hand, it is very doable. Following these critical steps will make the process seamless.

Lastly, never rush, rushing leads to mistakes. Lines can be lengthy, and everyone is anxious to get on the water your fellow boaters will understand, especially when they see you alone. Often, they may lend a helping hand. See you at the boat ramps.