Towing and Launching your Boat



Safety tips for trailering a boat

*Too much weight on the hitch will cause the rear wheels of the tow vehicle to drag and may make steering more difficult.

*Too much weight on the rear of the trailer will cause the trailer to "fishtail" and may reduce traction or even lift the rear wheels of the tow vehicle off the ground.

* Rollers and pads must be kept in good condition to prevent scratching and gouging of the boat.

*When trailer wheels are immersed in water, the bearings should be inspected and greased every season.

* Tie-downs and lower unit supports must be adjusted properly to prevent the boat from bouncing on the trailer. The bow eye on the boat should be secured with either a rope, chain or turnbuckle in addition to the winch strap. A strap may be required across the beam of the boat, if you don't have transom tie-downs.

* The capacity of the trailer should be greater than the combined weight of the boat, motor, and equipment.

* The tow vehicle must be capable of handling the weight of the trailer, boat, equipment, as well as the weight of the passengers and equipment which will be carried inside. The tow vehicle may need to be equipped with:

* Heavy duty brakes.
* Engine of adequate power.
* Transmission designed for towing.
* Larger cooling system for the engine or transmission.
* Load bearing hitch attached to the frame, not the bumper.

back to top

Safety check before you hit the road

* The tow ball and coupler are the same size.

* The coupler is completely over the ball and the latching mechanism is locked.

* The trailer is loaded evenly from front to rear as well as side to side.

*The tie-downs are in place on the transom and are tight.

* The safety chains are attached crisscrossing under the coupler to the frame of the tow vehicle.

* The lights on the trailer function properly.

* Check the brakes. On a level parking area roll forward and apply the brakes several times at increasing speeds to determine a safe stopping distance.

* The side view mirrors are large enough to provide an unobstructed rear view on both sides of the vehicle.

* Check tires (including spare). Improper inflation may cause difficulty in steering, and tires low on air will run hot.

* Make sure there is no water the boat. Water will shift with the movement of the trailer.

back to top

Towing precautions

* Please pull off the road to use your cell phone, so your attention will be on your driving.

* Allow more time to brake, accelerate, pass, and stop.

* Please use assured clear distance, at all times when towing.

* Do Not stay beside a semi truck ! Pass the truck, keep left till you have 6 car lengths behind your boat, then signal and move to the right lane. Keep your speed steady while passing and after changing to the right lane.

* Do Not follow close behind a semi truck ! Pass the truck, or back off 10 car lengths.

* Change lanes smoothly, to keep good control. Quick lane changes can cause trailer whip.

* Use your turn signals for every lane change and turn while towing.

* Remember the turning radius is greater. When negotiating corners, go a little wide, watch out for curbs, mail boxes, and barriers.

* Watch for pot holes and other hazards that can damage trailer tires and bearings.

back to top

Preparations when you get there

For the courtesy of others and to prevent rushing, prepare your boat for launching away from the ramp.

* Check the boat to ensure no damage was caused by the trip.
* Raise or trim the lower unit to proper height for launching so it will not hit bottom.
* Remove tie-downs and make sure the winch is locked in position.
* Put the drain plug in securely.
* Disconnect the trailer lights to prevent shorting of electrical system or burning out a bulb.
* Attach a line to the bow and the stern of the boat so the boat cannot drift away after launching and it can be easily maneuvered to docking area.
* Visually inspect the launch ramp for hazards such as a steep drop off, slippery area and sharp objects.

When everything has been double checked, proceed slowly to the ramp.
If you have a helper, they can get in the boat to pull it off the trailer.
A second helper can help guide the driver down the ramp.

back to top


Please be careful, the ramp can be very slippery at the water line.
Please be careful, the trailer can be very slippery to stand on.

* Keep the rear wheels of the tow vehicle out of the water.
* Set the parking brake and place the transmission in park.
* If you have a helper, they can be on shore holding the rope attached to the boat.
* Lower the motor and prepare to start the engine (after running blowers and checking for fuel leaks).
* Start the boat motor and make sure water is spraying from the engine cooling system.
* Release the winch and disconnect the winch line from the bow when the captain is ready.

At this point, the boat should be able to be launched with a light shove or by backing off the trailer under power.

Pull the car and trailer a sufficient distance from the ramp so others may use it.

Please make sure the vehicle is in PARK. If your vehicle is a stick shift, have the Parking brake set, the transmision in 1st gear and engine shut off. It is best to keep the rear wheels just out of the water.

back to top


Loading the boat

The steps for loading your boat are basically the reverse of launching it. As you approach the ramp, take notice of:

* Wind direction and speed
* Water current
* Boat traffic
* Visibility, etc.

Please be careful, the ramp can be very slippery at the water line.
Please be careful, the trailer can be very slippery to stand on.

Maneuver the boat carefully to the submerged trailer and raise the lower unit of the engine. Then, winch the boat onto the trailer and secure it.

Finally, drive the trailer with boat carefully out of the ramp to a designated parking area. Then you can unload your stuff, cleanup the boat, put the tie-downs on, and check your equipment before hitting the road.

back to top

© Lakeside Canvas, all rights reserved.
You may link to this web site, copying of content is not permitted.