Captain Steve Larivee for Allstate Insurance instructs on the proper techniques of boat launching and retrieval.
Pre-launching Procedures. Prior to launching, always perform a pre-launch check. It starts at the stern of the boat, and the reason is, the first thing you’re going to check is the drain plug in the back.
You want to make sure that the drain plug is securely in place. It’s the first thing you check and the last thing before launching.
Next, undo the retainer straps that lead from the transom to the trailer bed.
After removing the transom retainer straps, release the motor from its restraining bracket. Some outboards have a built-in bracket that gets latched from the motor-mount near where shown.
Others have an ancillary bracket here that will need to be removed before launching the boat.
Before you launch, be sure to put the engine in the up position. Otherwise, significant damage may occur by dragging the lower unit of the outboard along the ramp.
Boat Ramp Etiquette. Boat ramps are typically very crowded places and nobody wants to sit and wait in line, while someone at the ramp is blocking it off making sure they have everything ready to go. That should be done prior to launch in the parking lot. That is the time to make sure you’ve got your tackle on board and your gear is all ready to go. When it is time for you get down to the ramp, there are no worries and you’re ready to launch.
After the boat’s been made ready to launch, make a second check of the drain plug. There should be no excuses for having the drain plug not in place when you launch.
When backing your trailer into the water, you want to have the water just come up to the top of the fenders on the trailer (yellow arrow). That should be enough to float the boat off.
When to release the winch and safety strap depends on the situation.
Singlehanded Launch. If you are launching singlehanded, after backing the trailer into the water, release the winch cable/strap and the safety strap. Board the boat, lower the outboard and back-off the trailer. Quickly move the boat to the boat ramp dock or beach and move the tow vehicle and trailer away from the ramp, freeing the ramp for other boaters to launch their boats.
With two or more persons launching a boat, one person can board the boat prior to launching.
Two or More Persons Launch. If you’re going to launch the boat with two or more people, then you can release the winch and unhook the safety strap prior to backing the boat and trailer into the water. Have one person in the boat and then another one can be in the tow vehicle. The person on the boat can lower the outboard and back-off the trailer. The person operating the boat should quickly move the boat to the boat ramp dock or beach while the person in the tow vehicle moves the vehicle and trailer away from the ramp, freeing the ramp for other boaters to launch their boats.
Retrieving a boat onto the trailer is the opposite of launching it. Back the trailer into the water until the trailer fenders are just below the surface, and then drive the boat right onto the trailer.
The tow vehicle and trailer are going to be pulling forward, and you want to make sure that the boat comes along with it. This is the time to secure the winch and safety strap to the tow ring on the boat.
Before pulling the boat and trailer from the water, make sure to bring the engine up. This will prevent dragging the lower unit across the ramp.
After pulling the boat and trailer out of the water, put the transom safety straps back on.
Either flip-up the engine mount bracket to support the engine or put on an external one.
At the bow of the boat, make sure that the winch is latched correctly.
Also make sure the safety strap is secure to the bow eye.
Registration and Insurance. Of course, one of the most important aspects of trailer boating is the paperwork. You need to make sure that your trailer and boat are properly registered and insured. Boat and trailer insurance is where Allstate will come in.
For BoatTEST.com, I’m Captain Steve. We’ll see you on the water!