Ready to Launch: How to launch a boat off a trailer
Launching your new boat from a trailer at the local jetty can be a daunting experience, but with a little preparation and a few tips, you should be an expert in no time at all. With practice, launching your boat will become an easy prelude a great day on the water with friends and family.
Preparations for the launch
If this is your first time towing a boat and trailer, then you need to practice on a quiet road, close to home with little traffic. You also need to practice reversing the loaded trailer, particularly around corners and in a straight line. This is because, when you reverse down the jetty, you need to know what you are doing, otherwise you can endanger other people in the immediate area and even end up with your 4WD in the water.
Don’t forget to load all your equipment into the boat before you reverse down the jetty, because other boaties will be waiting to get their boats in or out of the water and holding them up is not going to make you overly popular. You also need to attach lines to the bow and stern cleats, remove the rear tie-downs, insert the drain plug, put the key in the ignition, pump the fuel primer and unplug the trailer lights, before reversing down the jetty into the water.
Launching your boat from your trailer
It is important to walk the jetty or boat ramp before reversing, just in case there are any potential hazards and slippery areas that might cause problems. Once you are happy with the condition of the ramp, reverse down the jetty until the stern of the boat begins to float, and engage the handbrake of your car, but keep the engine running.
Unhook the safety chain, give the winch some slack, release the bow strap and give the bow line to a crewmember while you push the boat off the trailer and into the water. A second crew member can often save time by hopping into the boat before you reverse down the jetty so that they can drive the boat off the trailer when it’s afloat. Otherwise, they can use the bow line to walk the boat away from the end of the jetty, freeing up space for the next boat in line, and you can park the car.
If you are launching a boat single-handed however, then when the stern starts to float and you have engaged the car’s handbrake, come around the back of the car and release the winch line, guide the boat into the water using the bow line, tie it up somewhere out of the way and then run back and park your vehicle.
Take home messages
To keep everyone safe on the jetty and to avoid ending up in the drink with your vehicle, it is important that you don’t ignore the need to practice reversing your loaded trailer. If for no other reason than looking like an idiot in front of everyone on the jetty, you need to reverse your trailer and boat safely down the jetty and into the water. If your loaded trailer jack-knifes as you are reversing down the jetty, you will hold everyone else up and have egg on your face as well!
Another point to note is that launching your boat with the trailer still attached is not the best idea, but you would be surprised at how many times boaties have seen it happen. So make sure that the trailer is securely hitched to your 4WD and that the safety chains are attached before you reverse down the jetty. Then, just prior to the boat floating, make sure that the winch cable is detached from the boat, so that it floats off the trailer, leaving the trailer attached to your vehicle by the safety chains.
For a competitive boat or trailer loan, call National Finance Solutions on 1300 13 50 50 or get an online quote today.