How to Launch a Boat in Water: Your Guide

March 30th, 2019 by



Getting your boat from the trailer to floating isn’t always an easy process. Get a head start on your boat purchase by learning how to launch a boat in with this guide.


For several years, the boating industry has seen steady growth, with more people getting into boating than ever. If you don’t know how to launch a boat, you could be making mistakes that can damage your boat and reputation at the docks. Getting a boat in the water is as important a skill as getting your boat around the water and it takes a lot of practice.


Here are the five steps to launching your boat from the pier next time you take a trip out alone or with friends.


1. Prepare Your Boat


Before launching, you need to take the time to prepare your boat while it’s still on your trailer. When it’s on dry land you can do much more to prep your board than once you’re about to drop it into the water. You can check on your engine, fuel, safety gear, your mooring lines and everything else.


As soon as you back your boat off of your ramp, it should be ready to drive.


Other people at the dock are going to be there ready to start driving and if you’re underprepared, you won’t be a good fellow captain. Using your dock time to do things you should take care of before you launch is rude and frustrating for other people.


2. Make a Plan


To make sure you don’t rob yourself or anyone else of their time in the water, make a list and run it by everyone you’re bringing with you. Let them know what tasks you have to do and what they can expect.


Load everyone on the boat before you hop on, otherwise, you’ll force people to have to jump in from the water.


If you’re bringing pets or kids, keep them from playing on the launch ramp. This is, in essence, a roadway that turns into a waterway and can be very dangerous for the unsupervised. Keep an eye on anyone who has never taken a boat before to better guide them on what to expect.


3. Starting The Launch


You need to disconnect your trailer’s light assembly first and make sure it’s no longer plugged into your vehicle. This could cause a shortage.


Put your drain plug into the boat. You need to keep from taking on any extra water. Then undo your straps. The hold-down straps will allow your boat to slide off but you’ll need them later so stow them somewhere safe.


Make sure to leave your wince hook in the bow eye for later.


You’ll need to use your dock lines and fenders immediately after the launch so make sure they’re ready for use and accessible.


4. Back Up Your Vehicle


You’ll need to back your trailer down your ramp. Use two people so that you can have a spotter while you drive your truck. When you have a truck or an SUV, you can lower the tailgate or open the hatch for a better view, but you should still have a partner.


Drive as slowly as you can so that you can make little steering adjustments as you move along.


Your distance will vary depending on the type of trailer that you have, how deep the water is, and the style of boat that you use. The basic rule is that you should back up until the water is just above your trailer’s hubs. That way, you’ll be adequately close to the water without risking getting stuck in the mud.


Keep the vehicle in neutral when backing up so that you have more control over the vehicle. Be ready to push it into gear if something goes wrong.


Set your parking brake before you get out of your vehicle.


5. The Launch


If your boat has an outboard or inboard-outboard motor, it’s time to drop the lower unit and turn on the bilge blower so that you can remove gas fumes. If anyone is near the engine, get them away from it before it starts. If anyone is in the path before you put the boat in reverse, tet them out of the way.


Watch the currents and waves to make sure your bot isn’t pulled off course.


Once you’re ready, crank up the engine, once it’s in the water. Undo the winch that’s connected to the bow eye and back it down. If you’ve got a small boat, you can probably push it while holding your mooring line.


Connect your boat to the dock and tie mooring lines to cleats. Use your fenders to keep your boat’s hull from being scratched.


Because boat ramps can be slippery, be careful to not let your tow vehicle’s wheels spin. Drive it back up the ramp and park it securely at the landing in a designated parking lot.


When you pull off the dock, remember that a stern from a boat pivots to the side versus a car which pivots to the front. Turning the boat’s wheel the opposite direction of the dock could push you right into it. Don’t gouge your boat by turning the wrong direction.


Now you should be ready to hit the open water and have a great time on your boating adventure.



Learning How To Launch a Boat Takes Time


When you’re first figuring out how to launch a boat, you’re going to make some beginner’s mistakes. Don’t beat yourself up but instead pay attention and figure out how you can do better next time. Follow these tips and make your own checklist to keep from making to many mistakes each time.


If you have questions about how you can get out and on the water faster, contact us for tips.