Thus far, Safety Tips for Trailering a Boat has proved to be the most popular of our Trucks Tips for Boat Towing video series. But that could be about to change. Because while safety is and always should be front and center in our minds as we trailer our boats down the road, it’s at the launch ramp that we feel serious pressure to perform. All eyes are on the captain of the truck as we back down the ramp. And other trailer boaters are watching, too, when we load the boat onto the trailer at the end of the day. If there was ever a time you’ll be laughed at, this is it.

You can reduce or maybe even eliminate the chances of making an embarrassing error at the boat ramp, by watching this video on launching and retrieving your boat. Click on the photo below:


Here's a list of our basic tips:

1. Don’t pull up to the boat ramp and stop—that’s considered very discourteous, since you’ll block others from using the ramp for several minutes. Instead, pull over where you won’t block the ramp and take your time arranging your gear and prepping the boat for departure.
2. The first time you walk by your trailer’s wheels, touch the hubs and make sure they aren’t hot. If they are, you need to have the bearings serviced—and wait for them to cool before they go into the water.
3. Prep for the launch: remove the safety straps (but not the bow strap), put in the drain plug, load up your gear, and pull the trailer’s light plug.
4. Back down the ramp and into the water, until the stern of the boat just begins to float. Then put the tow vehicle into park and apply the parking brake.
5. Remove the bow strap and chain.
6. Tilt the engine down and back the boat off the trailer.
7. Loading is the same process, in reverse. Motor onto the trailer, then hook the bow to the strap, winch it tight, and attach the chain.
8. If the ramp has a low grade, remove the safety chain, then take out a couple feet of line from the winch. Re-engage the winch, back down the ramp, and tap the brakes—gently—to move the boat back a few feet on the trailer. Then it’ll be much easier to launch.
9. Before towing home, prep your boat for trailering (prep for launching, in reverse) Ram trailering series video how to launch and retrieve a trailer boat

If you’re new to trailering, you might find the other videos in our series helpful, too. Check out the safety video, of course, but also take a look at Trailering a Boat on Sand and Mud, especially if you’re a waterfowl hunter or you regularly use boat ramps best described as “non-traditional." Those of you who live or vacation in the mountains should watch Towing in Mountainous Terrain – Hills Make it Harder. And if you’re trying to choose a new tow vehicle, take time to watch What to Look for in a Tow Vehicle.

If you're questioning the decision to buy a trailer boat in the first place, read 10 Ways to Save Money with a Boat on a Trailer. While it's true that running a trailer boat has its downsides, there are a lot of upsides, too, and one of them is saving some hard-earned cash—this article will show you how.

Written by: Lenny Rudow
With over two decades of experience in marine journalism, Lenny Rudow has contributed to publications including YachtWorld,, Boating Magazine, Marlin Magazine, Boating World, Saltwater Sportsman, Texas Fish & Game, and many others. Lenny is a graduate of the Westlawn School of Yacht Design, and he has won numerous BWI and OWAA writing awards.