Boat Ownership

How To Launch A Boat Yourself

The best way to launch a boat yourself is to first have everything in the boat ready to go before you even attempt to back it down. Then be sure to remove the straps that hold it on the trailer. Make sure that the plug is in and that the batteries are on and the boat will have enough power to start the engines up. Back to the trailer down so that the wheel wells are just at the surface try not to put the boat so deep that it’s floating which is why you want to keep the boat connected in the first place so that it doesn’t float away from your trailer.

Once the wheel wells are flush with a surface you can then set your emergency brake. Turn your vehicle off and undo the chain/hook to the trailer with a hole in the boat on it. Climb onboard and start the boat up allowing the engines to warm. Make sure that your fenders and lines are ready to tie to the dock before you back down off the trailer.

Now you’re ready to back down off the trailer and park the boat. Secure the boat with at least two lines and the fenders out. Now you can go get your car and trailer. If you do have the opportunity to rinse your trailer off if you operated in salt water it might be a good time as the trailer will sit for several hours out in the elements with salt water on it. Otherwise, just give it a good rinse-off when you put the boat away. 

Where to keep the tow rope

For rope storage, it’s important for you to allow the rope to dry out without being in direct sunlight. Anchor lines need to be inspected after every use to prevent accidental cutting and breakage. [Source]

If used in salt water definitely rinse it out with fresh water and allow it to dry. Store the line in a dry place out of direct sunlight.

Reversing with a trailer

Pick a side and stick with it. Go slow and if you choose to look in the mirror as your main point you need to stick with that. Don’t change from mirror to shoulder because you will be confused about which way to turn the wheel.

Go slow so that if you start to make a mistake you can correct it before it gets out of hand. Always do yourself a favor and try to get the vehicle on the boat as straight as you can before backing down.

Releasing the boat from the trailer 

Never unhook your boat line or chain before you back down the ramp in order to avoid your boat from sliding off the trailer.

In order to flip the lever to back the strap down you have to take some initial tension off of it.

Attaching the boat to the dock

Launching in shallow water

Lift the engine slightly and keep the RPMs low so that you do not kick up a bunch of sediment and suck it into the engine.

Keep your speed slow just in case you hit anything. 

Be aware that the boat will handle poorly at a slower speed so avoid oversteering.

Checklist for launching a boat solo

  • Make sure you have the plug in!
  • The batteries are on and I have full power
  • Electronics are all working
  • All required safety gear is in the boat and functions correctly
  • All lines and fenders are available to use
  • The motor will start
  • Ratchet straps have been removed from the trailer to the boat
  • Trailer lights and boat lights all work
  • The motor will trim up and down

By Captain Jon

Jon has two boats in his little armada. A 16-foot Gregor Baja that he uses for inshore fishing and spearfishing and a 14-foot Takacat 420LX inflatable catamaran for Baja missions. Jon was fortunate enough to have boating mentors make his time on the water more efficient and wants to pass on the learnings to you.

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