How to launch your boat safely

You’ve seen those Youtube videos of yahoos bumping boats, or accidentally submerging their pickups, lakeside? Yikes. But don’t worry, you’ve got this. Just follow these steps for a safe, smooth boat launch:

Prime your vessel. Before you pull up to the launch, test your boat’s motor, fill the fuel tank and stow everything you need for the day – first-aid kit, life jackets, food, toys, sunscreen. Raise the boat’s motor so that it doesn’t drag.

Stop the drain. Check that the boat’s drain plug is firmly in place, or your day on the water could become a dip in the water.

Unfasten. Unplug the trailer lights and remove the boat’s hold-down straps. If the trailer has its own brakes, release them.

Inspect. Make sure the ramp is free of obstructions.

Ease down. Straighten the tow vehicle and slowly back the trailer down the ramp, with a spotter outside directing you. “Walkie-talkies are great for this,” says Rick Lang of AMA Driver Education. “The spotter can be a long way from the launch and still have excellent communication with the driver.” Remember: in reverse, the trailer will turn in the opposite direction of the steering wheel. Pull forward if you need to straighten out.

Slow your roll. Stop when the boat and trailer are in the water, just before the tow vehicle’s back wheels reach the edge. Set the parking brake, but leave the vehicle running and don’t get out.

Float and release. The boat should now be floating – have your buddy ease it away from the trailer.

Bon voyage Release your vehicle’s parking brake and smoothly accelerate back up the ramp so that the next boater can launch without delay. And have a great day on the water.


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