Are you ready to take the boat out of the lake for the season? Depending where you are you may be able to eke out a few more weeks, but when that day eventually comes, here’s your handy refresher for getting your boat back onto it’s trailer for winter.
But first things first. You’ll need to get your trailer hooked up to your vehicle. As always, make sure that your towing vehicle is up to the job and that you’ve got your insurance and licences in place. (And if you need to practice backing up, find a good empty parking lot to do this without an impatient boat-launch audience.) Don’t forget to hook up the trailer’s safety chains, make sure your all your indicator lights work, and adjust your mirrors so you can see the whole length of the trailer. With that done, once you’re at the launch you’re ready to get down to business:
Step 1 Back the trailer down to the right spot on the ramp. This may take some trial and error to learn exactly how far back you need to go, but, as a rule, reverse until the trailer’s bunks are completely submerged, then go forward until they’re about half out of the water. Wetting the bunks will make the boat slide on easier. If you have rollers, getting them wet is not as critical.
Step 2 If you’re doing this alone, now’s the time to put your vehicle in park, apply the emergency brake, hop out, and get into the boat. Whoever’s driving the boat should line it up with the trailer and advance forward slowly. If you’re going to power up on to the trailer, make sure your motor is tilted up so the prop wash goes straight out or even up a little bit. Otherwise, all the water pressure goes down the ramp and will erode the boat ramp. Make sure the boat is sitting properly and balanced on the bunks or rollers and if not, back the boat up and try again.
Step 3 Once the boat is up far enough on the bunks and you’re happy with the position, attach the safety hook to the eye at the front of the boat and use the winch to snug the boat forward, then pull the vehicle ahead and away from the ramp.
Step 4 When you’re in the staging area, remove the drain plug, attach the transom straps, and prepare the boat for travel. If you’re taking your boat on the road, remember to step up in the boat, and check that no loose gear such as lifejackets could blow out. Securely stow any gear you are transporting in the boat in the middle or towards the bow to keep the trailer from swaying, and make sure the cover, if you’re using one, is on nice and tight.
(And remember, if its not the end of the season and you’re just moving your boat to another lake, be aware of invasive species and clean your boat hull before you relaunch.)