Tips for Launching Your Boat
When you follow the advice below, slipping into the water at the boat ramp goes much smoother and it's easier to get past any anxiety that comes with the process. Here's how you can get there in 4 easy steps.
1. Get Out of the Way When You Prep for Launch
Before you get right in front of the boat ramp and start backing up, get everything ready somewhere off to the side. This allows you the time to go through your launch checklist and gives others the space to launch their boat. Not only is this the right thing to do, but it can also help you prevent some common oversights that can harm you and your boat.
For many boats, this prep means:
- Removing Covers on Your Boat and Electronics
- Putting Plugs In
- Removing Motor Stiks, Transom Brackets, Steer Stops, and Tie-Downs
- Readying Fenders and Dock Ropes
- Connecting a Z-Launch cord
2. Pull All the Way Forward for a Straight Shot
With your boat and gear ready to go, pull your vehicle all the way forward in front of the ramp lane so you only have to back up straight down the ramp and make minor adjustments to get it right where you need it.
Usually this means just driving backward nice and slow while turning your steering wheel a little left or a little right while checking the side mirrors and / or backup camera. This slow and steady technique will also prevent the unnecessary wear and tear on your tires that comes from turning a steering wheel too much when the vehicle isn't moving.
3. Use the Right Lights During Low Vis Hours
While backing up in low light conditions, put your parking lights on instead of your headlights. Not only will this help your eyes as they try to distinguish between darker areas around you and the illumination of your trailer lights, it will also do the same for anyone else prepping their boat ahead of you, especially if you have those blindingly bright white headlights.
4. Promptly Park Your Boat Out of the Way
Once you get your boat trailer in far enough and you put the vehicle in park, go ahead and move your boat around and out of the way. Depending on your boat and the boat ramp itself, this could mean tying up on the opposite side of the dock, pulling your boat into position and putting your shallow water anchors down, or beaching it nearby (just make sure you have a KeelShield if you like to beach it).
Then you can quickly and carefully pull your vehicle and trailer up into a designated parking spot where it's out of the way. With that, you can grab the rest of your gear, lock up, and get boating!