Though an extremely fun sport and hobby, boating requires a great deal of preparation and safety. The more you know the better each experience will be. There is a correct way to launch any boat, here are some things to consider when launching:
1. Prepare the boat:
It’s important and widely advised to prepare the boat as much as possible while it is on the trailer. What are some of the things we mean? Have the following things on a quick check list before getting out on the dock:
- Prepare the engine
- Safety Gear
- Mooring lines
2. Make a plan together:
Brief guests on how they can help out by supervising children and/or pets while the boat is being loaded and set up. Guests should be educated on the importance of staying clear of launch ramp.
3. The Launch Site:
- Unplug the trailer towing light assembly from the vehicle’s electrical system.
- Put the drain plug in the boat.
- Undo and stow the hold down straps, but leave the winch hook in the bow eye.
- Have your dock lines and fenders ready to go for immediate use.
- Back the trailer down the ramp. Two people are recommended for this job as one person is able to spot the driver while he or she is backing up. It’s a best practice to back in until the water is just above the hubs on the trailer.
- The vehicle should be in neutral when backing down the ramp.
- Pull the handbrake and then set it in the parking brake before exiting the car.
4. Launching the boat:
- Lower the lower unit (for boats with outboard and inboard-outboard engines).
- Turn on the bilge blower to remove any gasoline fumes that may have accumulated in the bilge.
- It’s important to ensure that no person is near the engine before you put the boat in reverse.
- Pay attention to currents, wind and waves that can easily pull your boat off course and into a collision course with another boat or dock.
- Crank the engine. Make sure the engine is in the water, and turn it over. Once it’s running, undo the winch hook from the bow eye, and back the boat out of the trailer. For smaller boats, you can just push the boat out while holding a mooring line.
- Secure the boat to the dock. Tie the mooring lines to cleats on the dock. Use fenders to prevent the hull from being scratched.
- Slowly pull the vehicle out. Boat ramps can be slippery with moss and algae and it is important to not let the vehicle’s tires spin. If your tow vehicle is equipped with four-wheel drive, this can be useful if your back tires start spinning. Once the boat is afloat and secured to the dock, drive the vehicle back up the ramp and park it at the landing, in the designated parking area.
- When pulling away from the dock, it is important to understand that unlike a car, the stern of the boat is pushed to one side or the other, whereas a car’s pivot point is in the front. Do not turn the boats steering wheel in the opposite direction of the dock, with the boat a mere few inches from the dock, and just hit the throttle – or your engine’s outdrive will push your boat right into the dock, scratching or gouging the gelcoat in the side of the hull. Make sure that you have pushed away several feet from the boat dock before driving away, so that your stern has ample room to turn the boat without scraping the boat alongside of the dock.
Some last things to keep in mind:
- Have a lock on your trailer’s coupler to avoid theft.
- Check trailer tires.
- Keep your boat keys on a floatie.
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