Make sure everything goes smoothly and safely when launching your boat by preparing beforehand.

Top Tips For Boat TowingPre-Launch To-Do List
(in parking area or ready lane)

  • Remove tie-downs.
  • Remove engine support.
  • Disconnect trailer wiring from tow vehicle.
  • Load and stow gear to be carried aboard.
  • Check boat systems: battery, engine, bilge pumps, lights and horn.
  • If equipped, turn on the engine-compartment blower.
  • Make ready dock lines, fenders and boat hook.
  • Install the drain plug.

Launch To-Do List

  • Back down far enough to allow engine cooling water to be picked up.
  • Set the emergency brake and put the vehicle in park.
  • On stern-drive or outboard boats, lower the drive.
  • Start the engine and let it warm up.
  • Disconnect the winch hook from the bow eye.
  • Proceed to launch.
  • Once the boat is clear, pull away and park.

Retrieval To-Do List

  • Back the trailer into the water, but do not submerge it too deeply.
  • The skipper should approach the trailer slowly, taking wind and current into consideration.
  • Nudge the boat’s bow into the center of the trailer; let it settle before winching or powering up to the bow stop.
  • Attach the bow strap and safety chain.
  • Raise the outboard or outdrive before driving up the ramp.
  • Clear the ramp area as quickly and safely as possible.
  • Reconnect trailer wiring, attach tie-down straps, lower antennas and secure the rig for the road.
  • Remove the drain plug.
  • To prevent corrosion and fight invasive species, wash the boat and trailer and flush the engine as soon as possible (ideally at the launch ramp wash-down).

Source:; October 3, 2013.