How to handle a trailer when launching a boat

Posted by Carolien Henn on Apr 26, 2022 6:00:00 AM

Launching a boat, especially if the boat ramp is very busy, can be challenging and somewhat overwhelming. Especially when it feels like the trailer has a will of its own.

Here are some practical tips to assist you to get your boat in the water straight, quickly and safely.

Take a careful look

Some launch ramps may end suddenly, while others may have steep drops on the side of the ramp, this makes a visual inspection crucial especially when launching a big boat. 

Tides and currents may also affect your launch especially at low tide. Therefore, it is important to talk to the locals to get a better understanding.

Position correctly for the launch ramp

Make sure that your vehicle and boat is positioned in a straight line to the launch ramp before you start reversing, angles can make things very tricky.

Let’s reverse

Before you start reversing, make sure that the wheels of the car and trailer are all facing straight ahead. Watch both your rearview mirrors and wait until your boat appears more in one rear view mirror than in the other, when this happens turn your steering wheel in the direction that the trailer is going, this will correct the trailer and keep in on track.

Reverse slowly so you have time to adjust your steering.  Make small, regular and smooth movements with the steering wheel. The longer the draw bar, the slower the trailer will react to your steering. 

When it comes to reversing a trailer, practice makes perfect. Should you still be nervous about taking on the launch ramp, practicing straight reversing on an open field may work.

Keep the safety chain on

Always keep your safety chain on until your trailer is in the water, the last thing you want is for your boat to skid down the launch ramp. Once in the water the chain can be removed.

Get a second pair of eyes 

Ask a friend to keep an eye out for you, it always helps if there is another observer that may look out for obstacles that you might not be able to see from your vehicle.

Know your vehicle’s capability

Do you have the torque you need without damaging your clutch or differentials?

Some 4 x 4 vehicle’s need to be switched to low range to avoid strain on the vehicle. Pulling your trailer out of the water with the resistance can be strenuous on your vehicle and some launch ramps may be slippery, muddy and even very steep.

All breaks on

Always pull your hand break up firmly, put your vehicle in gear (if manual) and then switch off your vehicle should you need to exit your vehicle on the launch ramp. This will prevent your car from getting waterborne with your boat.

Trailer maintenance 

Always make sure that your trailer is maintained, ball bearings are checked and serviced and that rust does not go untreated. Also make sure that any additional reflector boards are secured or removed from your trailer before the launch.

We hope that these tips will assist in making your next launch smoother!





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