Launching your Vessel

Bradford Marine

If you have never launched from a ramp you should make your first attempt on a weekday or when the ramp is not going to be busy so you don’t rush.

If you’ve never used the ramp you should park out of the way and walk down to inspect the ramp and dock. This way you’ll know how steep the ramp is, how deep the water seems to be, and the condition of the dock. This way you can make a plan before the boat is wet. You can also see how busy the ramp is, and decide where to park the vehicle and trailer after you launch.

Bradford Marine

It’s etiquette at a public ramp to be as efficient as possible when launching. With that in mind, you want to prepare your boat to launch as soon as it touches the water. Park in a staging area out of the way of others who are actually launching.

Once you’re ready to back down the ramp and launch, you’ll want to make sure you align the boat and trailer so you can back straight down the ramp.

If you’ve got someone with you, have them spot for you, they should be positioned so you can see them in your left-hand mirror.

Make sure you back the trailer down slowly. This gives you more time to correct the trailer if it starts to go sideways or offline. A great tip is to place one hand at the bottom of the steering wheel and then watch the trailer in your mirrors. If you want the trailer to go left in your mirror, move your hand to the left, or to the right to steer the trailer to the right in your mirror.

Bradford Marine

Once your trailer tires touch the water check to see if the stern of the vessel is deep enough to float. If not, back down a little more until that happens.

With your vehicle in park and the parking brake set, get out and remove the safety chain from the bow eye, and release the trailer winch so the strap goes slack and you can unclip it from the bow eye. Your helper can also do this while you wait in the vehicle, but you still should put the vehicle in Park and set the brake. Depending on the ramp and your tow vehicle, you may or may not be able to release the boat without standing in the water.

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