Experienced boaters know how to back a trailer and pull their boat out of the water, but there are some boat ramp basics we all fail to adhere to now and again. Whether you’re an old hand or new to trailer boating, use these tactics to look like a pro every time you launch.
1. Prep your boat for launching away from the ramp, so you don’t hold up the works as you remove transom tie-downs, put in the drain plug, and attach mooring lines. But don’t pre-start your engine. Even if you shut it down immediately, starting an outboard dry can damage the water pump impeller, which depends on water for lubrication.
2. If your boat won’t float free due to a low tide or a short ramp, pull up a few feet, let your rig roll backwards, and slap on the brakes. Momentum will keep the boat moving. Naturally, make sure you secure a line to the boat or have someone aboard, so your pride and joy doesn’t slide away uncontrolled.
3. Once the boat’s in the water, shift it as far down the pier as possible so the next trailer boater can back down. Otherwise, you’ll be forcing them to wait as you park your truck and trailer, and walk back to the boat.
4. When you return to the ramp at the end of the day, don’t pull up the the pier and tie off. This blocks the ramp while you retrieve your truck, and slows everyone else down. Instead, pull up to the end of the pier and drop off your fishing buddy, then back away from the ramp as he fetches the truck. Not only will other boaters be able to continue using the ramp, your friend will be able to use other slots if there’s an opening to the left or right, when he returns with the truck and trailer.
5. Never drive half way up the ramp, then stop. Get your rig ready for the road somewhere out of the way, instead of clogging up the ramp.
Bonus Boat Ramp Tip: In most cases, you should power your boat up onto the trailer. Very few rigs are designed to be cranked all the way up, and not only does this takes a lot of time and effort, it also puts your winch and cable or strap under a lot of pressure. In almost all cases, it’s faster, easier, and safer to drive your boat on, instead of cranking it.