8 Easy Steps to Get Your Boat In and Out of the Water

Preparing to launch a boat on a boat ramp
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Loading and unloading a watercraft can be two of the trickiest tasks for inexperienced boaters. Even so, some ignore important considerations when taking their vessel in and out of the water safely. Luckily, boat ramps have been of huge assistance for boaters of all skill levels.

Just like how people need to learn the road rules, they need to learn proper boating etiquette. This etiquette encompasses all aspects of boating which include unloading, reloading, and getting the watercraft in the water.

Let’s look at how you can get your watercraft in and out of the water using boat ramps.

Boat ramp at Freddie Patrick Park in Port Canaveral, where fishing and other recreational boats are launchedFishing and recreational vessels being launched at a ramp at Freddie Patrick Park in Port Canaveral, Florida

How to Launch Your Vessel Properly

Here are the main steps you need to follow to avoid injury while unloading your watercraft into the water with a boat ramp:

  • Prepare Early

Preparing early is the best approach to unloading your vessel. Keep the motor support and trailer straps off and secure. Make sure the drain plug is in place. You don’t want the boat’s lower unit dragging around or acting like a sand plow. Therefore, use a jack plate to move the motor in an upright position to stay above the ground at a safe distance. 

Always practice safe boating techniques and keep a safe distance from other watercrafts, tow vehicles, and objects near ramps. It will not only help you get the vessel in and out of the water easier, but it can keep everyone else safe as well.

Cars towing boats at the Haulover Marina Miami Beach FLCars towing watercrafts at the Haulover Marina Miami Beach, Florida

  • Inspect the Vessel (Before Launching)

Check for potholes, underwater hazards, and submerged obstacles. Opt for a vehicle that can generate enough power to pull the watercraft out of the water and stay still when you're getting it in water. Find a better launch point if the angle you have is either too flat or too steep.

  • Request a Hand from Someone

Always make sure you have a spotter when backing up the tow vehicle onto any ramp. A spotter will let you know if your vessel has submerged properly. Although you can use mirrors, an experienced fellow boater can judge the launching angle better while you're backing up the trailer.

  • Launch the Vessel Carefully

When it starts to float, a boater can give you a signal, where you will then pull the stick and maintain traction. After you stop the towing vehicle, you can go and unhinge the vessel from the trailer. You should lower the unit until it completely submerges, start the engine, and then detach the safety chain.

  • Maintain Ramp Etiquette

As the watercraft launches successfully with a running engine, move your tow vehicle away from the ramp to a designated parking spot.

Boats getting in and out of the water at a busy boat ramp in Miami, FloridaA busy boat ramp on a weekend in Miami, FloridaBoat Ramp

Retrieving Your Boat from the Water with Ease

Here are the main steps to follow to avoid damaging the boat or injuring someone when trying to unload the watercraft out of the water:

  • Get the Tow Vehicle in Place

Bring the vessel to a safe distance and back the trailer on the boat ramp you’re using. But be sure to back it up only enough to let the vessel glide up the rollers. Two-thirds of the rollers should be submerged. Leave the vehicle in parking and don’t turn off the engine. Tie the boat to the dock before getting it into the trailer. Once in place, keep the trailer in line to avoid disturbing other boaters.

  • Load the Vessel

You can use a bow rope to get your vessel on the roller. Or, you can drive the watercraft in line to glide over the rollers. Getting help ensures that you will have someone to spot the blind spots. Drive slowly and get the watercraft on the trailer.

  • Winch It to the Trailer

From your trailer, attach the winch strap to the bow eye of the watercraft. Make sure you attach it to its eye and bend the cable to pull the watercraft onto the trailer. Furthermore, keep the safety chain attached and in place. Never accelerate too fast when moving the vessel up a ramp. Secure everything by sticking to a low speed.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is Proper Ramp Etiquette?

It refers to making the process quick and efficient while ensuring you and others are safe. It is best to be assisted by other people to load/unload the watercraft quickly and safely. Once in the water, you must pull away instantly from the tow vehicle.

How to Start a Vessel without a Ramp?

Watch the angle at which you launch the vessel into the water in the absence of boat ramps. Avoid launching from a steep angle or one that’s too flat since that could damage the boat. Check for submerged objects, and then slowly try to slide the boat into the water.

What to Avoid When Retrieving a Watercraft at a Ramp?

Never rush the boat with high throttle towards your tow trailer. The blades might erode and damage the sediment at the boat ramp, causing disturbance for others to load and unload their vessel.

The abovementioned tips can become a routine for you every time you plan to go boating. Whether you’re using boat ramps or not, follow the common boating etiquette.

Many blogs will cover the intricacies of reloading and unloading vessels in the water. Although, only a few will emphasize the etiquette involved with boat ramps. By using the tips above, you will be able to put your watercraft in and out of the water safely.

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