Helpful Tips For Easily Retrieving Your Boat

The first step in retrieving your boat is to back the trailer into the water. Small trailers with no boat can be hard to see from a full-size pickup, but dropping the tailgate can alleviate this blind spot. In any case, be sure the trailer is straight as it enters the water.

Ramp conditions and your type of trailer will dictate how deeply it must be submerged. Watch for hand signals from the boat driver to move the trailer forward or backward. Be sure the skipper can see the bunks or fenders of the trailer so he can use them as guides for positioning the boat. Some trailers come equipped with side guides or posts to aid a skipper on his approach.

Depending on where you launch, power loading may be a preferred method, or it may be frowned upon or even prohibited due to prop turbulence that can scour holes in the launch zone. In this case, winching the boat onto the trailer is your only alternative, and you may find it necessary to back the trailer slightly deeper into the water.

Once the trailer is in place, set the tow vehicle’s emergency brake and place the shift lever in park; in the case of a manual transmission, shift into low gear and turn off the engine. Once the boat reaches the bow stop, connect the bow strap and bow safety chain, but don’t begin to pull out until you are certain the boat’s engine is shut off and the lower unit is raised all the way up.

Put your foot on the brake pedal, place the vehicle in low gear, release the emergency brake and then slowly begin pulling up the ramp. Don’t use too much power. If the ramp is slick and your vehicle has four-wheel drive or an electronic locking differential, this may be a good time to use it. If the wheels start to spin, try going up the ramp at a slight angle, which effectively reduces the grade.

Don’t stop on the ramp to secure the boat with transom tie-downs, as you will block access for other ramp users. Instead, pull into the parking area to secure your boat before heading back onto the road. Reconnect the trailer wiring, lower antennas and the Bimini top and square away loose gear that might fly out on the way home. Now is a good time to pull the drain plug to help your boat shed any water in the bilge.