January 21, 2021 at 7:55 am #10736
Backing up a trailer and launching a boat can be very intimidating to new boaters, especially if the launch area is busy. New boaters should always get instruction and have the help of an experienced boater for the first few attempts to launch a boat. In an effort to help make your next boating expedition a successful one, try to keep in mind the following tips and suggestions for launching your boat.
Before approaching the boat ramp, prepare the boat for launch by removing tie-downs (all except the winch hook attached to the bow eye) and put all detachable items in the tow vehicle. Make sure all the necessary gear is in the boat (life vests, fire extinguisher, etc.) and check your boat accessories such as the bilge pump, lights and battery switches are working. For boats with inboards, turn on the blower.
Put any of your maneuvering gear, like boat hooks or fenders within reach, as well as your lines. With the bow eye winch line still secured, give one last ‘once over’ – if running the blower, make sure you’ve done it a full 5 minutes before starting the engine. Remember never to start the engine if you smell fumes!
When ready and it is your turn at the boat ramp, back your trailer onto the ramp until the wheels are at the water’s edge. Do this slowly and patiently. Hopefully you have another person with you to help guide you back – if not, you may want to enlist the help of a friendly boater waiting on his turn. If you’re a newbie, it is a good idea to practice doing this at an “off time” when boat traffic is at its lowest.
Once the boat and trailer are in the right position, put the tow vehicle in park and put the emergency brake on. The boat should then be boarded in order to lower the outboard(s), and be careful make sure the lowered unit does not touch the ramp. When signaled, the tow vehicle should back slowly to a point where the engine’s cooling water intakes are submerged. You can then start the engine and let it warm up. Listen and check to see that everything is running properly before attempting to back off of the trailer.
When you are ready, unhook the bow winch hook. Now, depending on the style of trailer you have, the method you use to back off the trailer may vary. For example, a trailer with multiple rollers, usually rolls off fairly easily once the bow hook is released, so keep in mind that the drive unit or outboard(s) should remain slightly upright to avoid banging on the ramp as the boat rolls off the trailer. The launch from a roller trailer can be controlled with practice using the boat’s forward and reverse throttle. If using an adjustable trailer, the tow vehicle should back into the water until the boat starts to float free of the bolsters. You may have to back into the water to the point of the rear wheels of the vehicle. The boat would then be shifted into reverse and slowly backed off of the trailer. This same method would be used for a fixed bunk trailer. Everyone develops their own fool-proof system over time.
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