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How to launch your boat the right way?

Updated: Dec 23, 2023

Finally, you have found your dream boat, the perfect boat trailer and the appropriate truck to tow your new vessel to endless boating destinations. Now, you're going to experience one of the most dreaded tasks any boater eventually faces: launching your boat at the boat ramp. Relax, it's not as bad as you think! As almost everything in boating, it all comes down to being prepared, having the right gear and taking it slow. Let's break it down in this step-by-step guide to launching and retrieving your boat at the boat ramp.

First of all, you need to check a few things before you even leave home. Check the general condition of your boat and trailer. Make sure your boat's battery is fully charged. Go around your trailer and check all bolts are tight. Check tires are inflated to the maximum pressure, your hubs and bearings have been greased, your lug nuts are tightened to the appropriate torque and that the trailer lights and brakes are functioning properly. Don't forget your straps and tie-downs before you hit the road!

Launching your boat off your trailer

When you get to the boat ramp, odds are it will be busy. Most boaters will go out when the weather conditions are best. You'll often find a spot for boaters to prepare their boat for launching without blocking others. This is where you should go remove your straps, put all your equipment in the boat, prepare your fenders and dock lines and get everything ready. Don't forget to put your drain plug in! The common rule at a boat ramp is that the person who is ready to launch has priority. Tow vehicles dictate who should launch and load first, not boats.

Once you're ready to launch your boat, here are the next steps:

- Back your trailer in the water as close as possible to the dock

- Submerge your trailer until the stern of the boat starts floating

- Set your parking brake (make sure it engages all 4 wheels)

- Start your boat engine when it is in the water (never before!)

- Unhook your winch straps safety chain

- Slowly release the winch strap to allow the boat to go down

- Tie-up to the dock

- Move your truck from the launch ramp and park it in the appropriate space

Loading your boat on your trailer

The process of loading your boat back on your trailer is almost exactly the opposite of launching your boat.

- Tie-up your boat on the dock

- Back your trailer in the water (just enough to be able to load the boat on)

- Set your parking brake (make sure it engages all 4 wheels)

- Drive your boat on the trailer

- Hook the winch strap to the bow eye and crank your boat up on the trailer

- Attach the winch safety chain

- Turn-off your engine and tilt up your outboard / outdrive

- Pull your boat and trailer out of the water to the preparation area

Things to keep in mind

Launching and loading your boat can be stressful at first but it will become easier overtime as you get to know your boat, truck and trailer better. It also takes some practice to back the trailer and be confident maneuvering the truck and trailer around the boat ramp.

It's a good idea to do a trial run and practice on a day that is not busy. Having the whole ramp to yourself and no one to watch you will take a lot of the pressure off your shoulders!

Remember, being prepared and taking it slow are key to a successful launch.

If you have questions about launching or towing you boat, give us a call on (425) 499-6883 or visit for more information. We're always happy to guide new boaters through this exciting experience!

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