Launching a boat by yourself may take a little practice to perfect, but it’s actually quite easy once you get the system down. If you’re a little worried about doing it on your own, don’t be—I was the same way when I started launching my first bass boat as a teenager. I didn’t even like to fish by myself because I was nervous about getting the boat on and off the trailer.
These days, I fish almost entirely by myself. Using this particular method, I can actually launch my boat quicker than if someone were helping me; it takes no more than a few minutes.
Here’s how to do it.
1. Pull to the side and get prepared
The first rule of boat launching is simple: Don’t be “that guy” at the boat ramp. It’s an important and an unwritten rule to consider everyone else’s time and convenience, especially when you’re using a busy facility. Don’t back down the ramp, stop your boat short of the water and then prepare for launch. Instead, pull to the side and get everything ready—this allows you to relax and think through your checklist without feeling rushed or nervous.
When you exit your tow vehicle, go straight to the back of your boat and insert the drain plug; this is a good habit to develop and it could potentially save you a giant headache. Next, remove the back transom straps and your motor stabilizer. Tilt the engine up to avoid any prop or lower unit damage in case the ramp is in poor condition.
2. Begin your descent down the ramp
You’ll see a lot of people who unhook the bow of their boats before they reach the water’s edge. I don’t recommend that; I’ve seen a couple of accidents happen that way.
When you reach the water’s edge, put your tow vehicle in “park” and unhook the safety chain from the bow of your boat. Leave the winch strap hooked up.
Strip about 2 feet of strap from the front winch while it’s still hooked to the boat. Make sure to flip the ratchet pawl so the winch can only turn counter-clockwise.
3. Back your boat into the water
Slowly back your boat and trailer into the water. Keep backing up until your boat begins to float; this will allow the nose of the boat to release from the roller. When your boat slides off the roller, there’s no need to back any further.
Watch your step! I was so nervous in the first fishing tournament I fished that I slipped off the trailer and fell up to my neck in 45-degree water. Let my embarrasment be a lesson.
After placing your tow vehicle in “park”, step onto the trailer tounge and unhook the winch strap from the bow of the boat. Push the boat backwards and climb in.
Dock the boat, park your truck and you’re ready to go fishing.
Important aspects to consider
Everyone has their own way of doing things. I’m sure there are other ways to launch a boat by yourself, but this is the quickest and safest way I’ve found. I particularly like this method because I don’t have to use my outboard to get my boat off the trailer, which avoids unneccessary prop damage in shallow water.
You never know when your vehicle might pop out of gear and roll backwards into the water. For this reason, I keep my window rolled down and my seatbelt off; it’s just a habit I’ve developed. While it’s very unlikely something will happen, it’s best to be cautious.