The 5 steps for launching your boat
As spring rolls around again you’re already eagerly planning your first sun-filled days out on the water. Whether it’s your first time out with a brand new vessel or you’re an old hand at boat launching, you’ll want to learn or review what you need to do to get off to a good start.
Here are our five tips for launching your boat, the right way.
Prepare your boat & equipment
There are a few things you need to do before you head out for the perfect day. Start by carefully inspecting your boat. Check the engine and the hull, then the safety equipment. Next, make sure you have all the fishing equipment you need. Last, remember to take a change of clothes, a waterproof jacket, warm garments, sunscreen, food for meals and snacks, and plenty of water. Make a list the night before and check everything off in the morning. That way, you’re less likely to forget anything!
Use your time wisely
It’s a beautiful day, and everyone else has had the same idea. No problem! While you wait at the boat launch ramp, put the bilge plug firmly in place, remove the trailer cover, remove the transom saver engine support bar, put everything you’ve brought along inside the boat, detach the tie downs, and adjust your rear-view mirrors so you can see properly as you reverse down the boat ramp.
If you're with someone
Lucky enough to have someone with you to help? Ask him/her to stay in the vehicle while you take charge as skipper in the boat. Once the trailer is properly lined up on the boat ramp, have your helper apply the handbrake, get out of the vehicle to detach the winch, then return to the vehicle to slowly back down the ramp until the trailer wheels are fully submerged. Warn your helper not brake suddenly, otherwise the boat could slide.
Once the trailer is in position, your helper needs to apply the handbrake again before the boat comes off the trailer. At this stage, you’re still in the boat and you need to make sure the lower unit of the engine is completely in the water. Then start the engine. Reverse the boat slowly, and you’re good to go!
If you're on your own
If no one is there to help, never detach the winch before the boat is fully in the water. It’s also better if you back down further on the ramp to make it easier to move the boat away. If you notice that the vessel is starting to float, stop because you’re at the critical point. If you back up any further, the waves could move your boat. Now that you have made contact with the water, get in the boat and start it up in neutral. Detach the winch from inside the boat. Once the boat is detached, put it in reverse and position it alongside the shore or dock. Moor the boat and go back to your vehicle to get it off the ramp and into a parking spot.
Never drive onto a boat ramp unless you’re 100% ready to go. Let the next person go ahead of you if you need more time. It’s much better to wait than risk doing something wrong under pressure. Remember—safety first, for you and other boaters.