Getting out on the water is the goal. To do that, you have to know how to launch your boat. Splashing your boat for the first time or the 100th time at the boat ramp can be exciting or terrifying or both. There are vital things to remember that will make launching your boat easy and second nature to you. Depending on where you keep your boat will decide on how to launch. Trailering your boat from your house or a storage facility means using a boat ramp to get on the water.
Launch Your Boat at a Boat Ramp
Let’s explore how to launch your boat from a boat ramp like a champ! Being prepared helps to get your boat in the water smoothly. There are a few key steps to keep your boat, your vehicle, and you safe. In the same vein, there are things to do, so you are not “that boater” at the boat ramp.
Steps for Launching a Boat
You can research on google or by asking seasoned boaters. Everyone has different tips, tricks, and opinions on how to launch a boat. There are steps to do when putting our boat into the water at a boat ramp. Here is a 10 step list from DiscoverBoating.com
10 Steps for Launching a Boat
- In a staging area, check that the drain plug is installed and the key is in the ignition.
- Load all your gear into the boat—fishing tackle, coolers, tubes, skis, etc.
- Attach fenders to the dock side of the boat and remove the transom tie-down straps.
- Attach dock lines to the bow and stern cleats.
- Unplug the trailer lights from the tow vehicle to keep cold water from damaging the hot bulbs.
- Then, move your tow vehicle in position to back straight down the ramp.
- Reverse down the ramp slowly, so you have time to correct if needed.
- Back down the ramp until you see the stern of the boat start to float.
- Put your vehicle in park with the parking brake, and release the trailer winch and safety chain.
Use a bowline, give the boat a little push, and slide it slowly off the trailer to float in the water.
Every step is critical to a successful launch of a boat, but #1 is essential to keep your boat from sinking. These are all simple, easy steps once they become second nature to you through practice and use.
To Unplug or Not to Unplug (your trailer lights)
At a young age, we learn that electricity and water do not mix. Unplugging your trailer lights (step #5) before backing the boat into the water is dependent upon the type of trailer and light. LED (light-emitting diode) lights do not burn hot and are sealed so they will not get damaged by water. Newer trailers automatically have LED lights installed. LED trailer lights do not need to be unplugged before backing into the water. You can also switch out your old trailer lights for new LED lights. Hydraulic brakes/disc surge brakes on a trailer need electricity to function (http://knowhow.napaonline.com/launch-boat-5-easy-steps/ ). Their function is to keep the momentum of the boat and trailer from continuing forward when stopping, especially suddenly. These brakes will not engage when the reverse lights are on. You make need to brake, depending on the flatness of the ramp slope.
Don’t Be “Those Boaters”
A boat ramp is a public place. Great for people-watching. Here are such tips to avoid amusing or irritating your fellow boaters.
Planning, Prepping, and Pier
Have all your gear on the boat. This sounds like a simple thing to do. Keep your USCG Safety Equipment up to date and on the boat. Keep a boat bag or tote ready that includes sunscreen, towels, first aid kit, etc.… At home, have a tote prepared to go with other essentials like bottles of water, picnic essentials, and any water toys. The key is to have this all on the boat before getting to the boat ramp. As a self-proclaimed bag lady – I am at least aware that regardless of how I pre-planned – I will have several additional small bags of stuff to take the day of boating. Do not make other boaters at the ramp wait for you while you get the boat parked at the ramp pier, on the ramp, or in the middle of the parking lot. This is why boat ramps have a “staging area.”
You have invited your friends to go boating with you for the day. This is one of the reasons you bought a boat. Pick your first mate to help you launch the boat. You do not need 6 people to help you launch your boat. The other boaters do not want 6+ parking spaces at the parking lot being take up by one boat. Rideshare! It is fair, less expensive in possible parking fees, and better for the environment. Upon return, t is perfectly acceptable to have your 6+ friends help your clean your boat while you flush the engine.
Start Your Engines
Boaters always check to make sure the boat turns over before hooking the boat to their trailer. It would be extremely disappointing to get to the ramp, and the boat not start. This step needs to be repeated at the boat ramp during step #1: Installing the drain plug and ensuring the key is on the ignition. Yes, the boat started when you were first hooking it up to the trailer, but it is always a good idea to double-check.
Please share your tips and trick for launching a boat with us!
References and Other Resources:
https://youtu.be/Yr4ZQ_U_nb0 (BoatUS How to Launch a Boat Video)