How To Launch & Retrieve Your Pontoon Boat
April 8, 2014
With the exception of docking, the one part of trailer boating that strikes the most fear in the hearts of new boaters has got to the launch ramp. Sure, it can be stressful the first few times, but here’s the good news: As long as you follow these easy tips, launching and retrieving your boat will become second-nature in no time.
Before You Hit The Road
Don’t even leave your driveway unless you check a few things first. Make sure your trailer tires are inflated to the correct pressure. If you pulled out the drain plug for the ride home, now would be a great time to put it back in. Check the charge on your battery…it seems like someone always leaves the radio on with the volume turned all the way down! Think about the sequence you’ll want to detach the boat from the trailer, leaving (of course) the bow hook on until the boat is in the water.
Practice In Peace
The best way to reduce stress before your moment in the spotlight is to trailer over to the ramp one early morning or evening during the middle of the week. You’ll have the place to yourself, and you can take your time backing down, correcting and dialing in your entry strategy. Take a few passes. If someone shows up, pull up and out of the way, and resume your practice run in peace. And if you have any questions about what you’re doing, now would be the time to ask a fellow boater.
Load Before Launching
You might be surprised by how many folks wait until they are at the end of the ramp to load up their coolers, floats, pets, and whatever else they’ve lugged to the lake on this beautiful Saturday. The better move is to go ahead and park (hey, that shady spot looks good) and take your time transferring your gear from the SUV to the boat. This might even give the kids time to inflate their tube, the dog to do his business and Mom time to feed the baby. That way everyone’s good to go and focused on the task at hand.
Everyone’s anxious to be out on the water enjoying their boat. It’s probably hot outside. There may be people who haven’t read this article and are struggling with, ummmm, “efficiency of motion.” Put a smile on your face. Give a nod or a wave to the other “good guys” and maybe even lend a hand to help move things along.
Use Your Crew
Think ahead about what ramp line feels more comfortable for you. Some folks like the left side, some folks like the right. Give everyone on your crew a job. Your buddy can be your guide on the ramp. Your kids can relay messages and let you know if you’re getting too close to the curb. Everyone can help undo the straps. Mom can pull the tow vehicle up and park while you pull the boat over to the temporary dock for passenger loading.
Best Launch Ramp Tip EVER
Put your hands at the bottom of the steering wheel while backing the trailer up…then turn the wheel in the direction you want the trailer to go.
Trailering your boat can be the perfect solution for you and your boating lifestyle. By taking a few minutes to master the “unwritten rules,” you can make launching and retrieving your boat almost as enjoyable as a day on the water. Almost.