How to Back Up a Boat Trailer the Easy Way
Boating and fishing season is just around the corner, which means it’s time to get back on the water. But before you can enjoy a fun summer day out on the lake or ocean, you need to get your boat into the water. And while launching your boat may seem tricky, it's actually fairly routine once you get the process down.
Here, we'll cover how to back up a boat trailer like a pro. All you'll need is a trailer, your boat, and a truck or an SUV capable of launching it.
How to Back a Boat Trailer Up Like a Seasoned Pro
If you're still a novice at launching your boat, we'd suggest arriving at the launch during a quieter time to make the process less stressful and ensure you have plenty of time to go through each of the following steps:
1. Give Yourself Plenty of Space
Launching a boat isn't something that you want to rush. Part of following the process is making sure you give yourself plenty of space to execute it. Launches can be difficult to navigate, as some are unpaved surfaces. Others require drivers to make a turn in reverse to access the launch ramp. Some are more straight-on.
No matter what type of launch you're working with, be sure there's plenty of space between your boat trailer and the water before you put your vehicle in reverse. To truly determine how much space you need, estimate the length of your vehicle and your boat trailer and then add several feet.
2. Get Your Bearings
Before you put your vehicle in reverse, you'll want to take a moment to get your bearings at the launch site. Don't be afraid to exit your vehicle and look for any obstructions or obstacles that may cause you trouble while backing up. Even rocks and twigs that are in the launch route can make backing up more challenging.
Once you've scoped out the site, you'll also want to make sure that your vehicle is ready for launch. Adjust your side mirrors so your view is optimized and don't be afraid to roll down your windows to get a better view of things. If you're launching the boat with another person, you may even consider having this individual act as your "spotter" as you launch.
3. Shift to Reverse and Slowly Back Up
After you've done any necessary prep work, it's time to put your vehicle in gear and back up toward the water. You'll want to do this very slowly while frequently checking your side mirrors to ensure you're still headed down the launch in a straight path.
Don't rush launching your boat. Drive slowly and cautiously. Never be afraid to put your vehicle in drive and pull forward to straighten out.
4. Make Subtle Corrections as You Reverse
Backing up a boat trailer is different than just backing up out of the driveway. When you turn left, your trailer is going to go right, and vice versa. That's why it's so important to go slow, as you'll want to make subtle corrections rather than big fixes as you're backing up. Going too fast can lead to oversteering and potentially even jack-knifing.
One trick to help with your steering is to keep one hand in the "six o'clock" position on the steering wheel. This should allow you to make subtle adjustments as you're backing up.
5. Execute the Launch
The final step is launching the boat. Continue backing up until the boat trailer enters the water and you notice the vessel beginning to float. This is your cue to remove the boat from the trailer. Activate the parking brake on your vehicle and exit to finish launching your boat. This is an important step that many boaters forget.
Keep in mind that most boat launches have inclines of anywhere from 12 to 15 degrees. Failure to activate the parking brake could cause your vehicle to roll down toward the water while removing the boat from the trailer.
After going through your launch checklist and securing the boat to the dock, finish the process by re-entering your vehicle, disengaging the parking brake, and pulling the trailer out of the water. Park your vehicle and return to your docked boat to enjoy your day out on the water.
Remember, launching a boat is like anything: the more you do it, the better you'll get at it. Don't be afraid to set some cones up in a parking lot and practice before boating season so you're better prepared when it's time to launch your watercraft.
Get Your Vessel Prepared for Boating and Fishing Season with Gemlux
Before you launch your boat, you'll want to ensure that it has all the necessary parts and components for a fun and stress-free boating season. Contact Gemlux for more information on our marine hardware and carbon fiber fishing gear.