This page provides information on trailering and launching your boat safely. Step by step pictures provide tips on unloading a boat at the ramp. This procedure applies to roller type trailers. Boats equipped with float-on trailers are launched somewhat differently.

Before backing down the ramp, the boat should be prepped to unload in the staging area. This is done to make launching safe and efficient, while allowing other boaters to use the ramp as soon as the boat is clear.

Before approaching the ramp:

  • put the drain plug in!
  • remove all straps
  • get wheel chocks ready
  • disconnect the trailer lights
  • attach bow and stern lines
  • verify that the winch cable is secure so it wont pay out cable until you are ready
  • install electronics and any items that you need to operate the boat
  • make a quick check of the engine, fuel and electrical systems
  • show guests the location of safety equipment
  • make a final check of the drain plug!

Before backing the boat trailer down the ramp, it is important to verify that no boaters are waiting to load or unload before you. Have someone stay in the truck at all times if at all possible. When the tow vehicle is in position its a good idea to set the parking brake and have the driver hold their foot on the vehicle’s brakes while the boat is unloading.


Here the boat has been backed down until the rear roller or pad is touching the water.

Another shot of the boat ready to unload.

The cable has been loosened at the winch but not removed.
The bow line can be controlled by a helper
or run in front of the winch post and used to help slow the boat’s travel.

The boat pivots on the trailer and much of the trailer tongue weight is off the truck.
In some cases the trailer is actually lifting the truck.
Good wheel chocks and a driver in place are important at this point
as there may not be enough weight on the rear wheels
to hold the tow vehicle in place with the parking brake only.

Here the boat has successfully launched and sits behind the trailer.
The winch cable can be removed and the boat can be moved back with the bow and stern lines.

When returning the boat to the trailer it is a good idea to have a few things ready when you approach the ramp.

  • have lines ready
  • begin storing loose items
  • have the tow vehicle keys ready
  • raise the engine or drive if needed
  • explain the procedure to guests and assign each person a responsibility


After loading the boat back on the trailer:

  • remove the drain plug
  • install the straps
  • stow all wheel chocks
  • reconnect the trailer lights
  • secure bow and stern lines
  • verify that the winch cable is secure and safety chains are on
  • disconnect the battery switch
  • remove electronics and any items that you need to store off the boat
  • lower antennas and outriggers
  • make a quick check of the boat engine, drive, tires, lights, hitch, safety chains

Related Information


Kayak Launching and Loading