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Boat Launching Made Simple

How to Launch Your Boat in an Orderly and Safe Way


Launching your boat can be as easy as 1-2-3 or it can be a difficult and embarrassing event. Here are some tips to help you – and the other boaters around you – have a happier day.

Before You Leave the House

Lots of time can be saved by doing some things at home before you leave.
  • Make sure all your life saving equipment is on board and properly stowed.
  • Make sure the drain plug is inserted.
  • Locate your bow and stern lines and stow the in an easily accessible place.
  • Clear you anchor rope and anchor; there’s no bigger mess than a tangled anchor rope.

At the Launch Ramp

  • While you are in line waiting to get to your turn at the ramp, put all your personal items on board. That includes food, coolers, towels, clothing – anything that you brought in your vehicle that needs to go on the boat.
  • Move your vehicle along with the rest of the line as it progresses to the ramp; there are people behind you looking to move forward as well.
  • This is NOT the time to start taking rods out of their storage and getting them set up to fish.
  • Attach the bow and stern lines to their appropriate cleats.
  • If you use fenders, now is the time to set them on the gunnel.
  • Remove the stern tie downs that hold the boat on the trailer.

As You Back Your Boat Down to the Water

  • Back the boat into the water to the depth that your trailer needs.
  • Unhook the bow from the trailer winch.
  • If you are alone, climb into the boat, start your engine and back the boat off the trailer.
  • DO NOT “beach” the boat on the boat ramp. Idle it or take it to a position on the dock that will allow other boats to launch.
  • If you have a partner, he can pull the trailer out and park the vehicle. If you are alone, make it a point to be quick about tying off your boat and removing your vehicle from the ramp; again, now is NOT the time to be fiddling with tackle.

Parking Your Vehicle

  • Move your vehicle from the launch ramp to the parking area as quickly and safely as you can. Remember, you have a long attachment to your vehicle. Give your parking neighbors room to get in and out of their vehicle.
  • Make sure your trailer is straight behind your vehicle.
  • Make sure you have not cut someone’s egress by blocking him with your trailer.
  • Make sure you lock your vehicle and take the keys with you!

Leaving the Ramp

  • Move your boat away from the dock as soon as practical.
  • One last reminder – now is STILL NOT the time to fiddle with tackle. You are taking up valuable dock space that another launching boat needs to use.
  • Even if signs are not posted, anywhere around the ramp and the dock is automatically a NO WAKE zone. NO WAKE means just that – NO WAKE. Some people think that means “go slow” or “not up on plane”. This is idle speed folks. Use only enough power to allow steerage of your boat.
  • Once away from the ramp, you can fiddle with whatever you like to fiddle with. NOW IS the /ul]time to take out rods, tackle, gear, etc.

Bottom Line

Launching a boat can be simple and quick if you follow these basic rules. Common sense is what most of them are about. Having a routine set up every time you launch will prevent bad things from happening – and it can also prevent writers like me from writing about you!
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