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BamaHawgHunter

Launching boat

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Being an inexperienced boater and on the verge of purchasing my 1st ever boat i'm looking for help from all the well experienced boaters on here. When launching your boat solo, what is the best or most trusted methods for this. If at all possible please give detailed info because i'm as green as the grass is green on this matter. Thanks

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Have everthing ready and in the boat in the parking lot before you get down to the ramp. It's no fun waiting for someone to load their tackle, coolers, etc while they are blocking the ramp. Make sure you have the drain plug in!! Give the primer bulb on your fuel line a few sqeezes until its firm. Now, this is what works for me: I unhook the tie downs in the back of the boat but leave the winch strap attached (saw a fella's boat slide off the trailer before he backed it all the way into the water, made a heck of a noise when it hit the concrete :-[ ). Then I back the boat into the water until the boat floats. Make sure and put the parking brake on. Then I unhook the winch strap and idle over the dock and tie up. I've seen some people tie a rope on the boat and pull it over to the side of the ramp instead of tying off at the dock, I guess this would work if you have a keel shield or some type of protection on the bottom of your boat. I leave the motor running to let it warm up a little while I go park the truck. Usually I can unload, park the truck and be back to the boat in less than five minutes. I'm sure others will offer other or better ideas, hope this helps. Good luck and stay safe.

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I have an old ski rope that I snap to the boat. Tie it off on my truck, back it in, pull up a little, step out on the ramp and pull the boat to the side. Park truck and trailer and get after it.

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I am with fishfordollars on this one, exactly my process.

Two important things to keep in mind is to get the boat ready to go before  getting in line and most important don't get to worried about it. It really is not as hard as you think, believe me my first time was this year its really not that bad.

Oh, and if you not used to backing the trailer up go practice in an empty parking lot first. Although my boat is the easiest thing I have ever backed  up with a little practice first won't hurt.

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I'll agree with everybody else so far.

Good rule of thumb tho just keep it in mind, from the time your backing into the ramp to the time you your boat and your trailer is clear for the next guy should be under five minutes. If it's taking you alot longer than that, you need to find a better system. Just keep it simple.

Launching is MUCH easier than recovering by yourself.

When I recover I'll typically tie my boat off at the courtesy dock or somewhere close to the ramp, then get in my truck and get in line and wait my turn. Back the truck in the water, keeping close to the dock that normally runs in between the ramps(this is important for later.) Normally I'll back down a little shallower than if i'm with somebody, this helps keep more of my alignment bunks above water.

Next I'll immediately make my way over to my boat, untie and head for the ramp. Now what I normally do (cause I'm TOTALLY AGAINST POWER LOADING cause it TEARS UP RAMPS) is approach the dock slowly. Kill the engine and step off the boat when next to the dock. At this point I can grab my bow line that I used earlier to tie off with and walk the dock up to the trailer pulling the boat. this is where being close is important.

When I can I'll jump down onto the ramp it's self (remember jump where's it's dry those things get slick) and then you can continue to pull the boat forward to the trailer. When It's close enough clip on the winch strap and pull her up. toss the bow line on the deck of the boat and pull out slowly.

5 minutes tops again, normally this takes me alone with a 16 Ft. Grumman about 3 minutes from in water, to pulling out.

People at the ramps are normally a little more understanding when your alone But you still want to be not necessarily quick, but efficient.

Bill

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Thanks guys for the helpful info.  I know we all have to learn and what better way to learn than from the more experienced boaters. Thanks again and i'll put these methods to good use.

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If you buy a boat from a dealership, all of this should be explained and even practiced before you take delivery.

If you buy from an individual, you for sure will want to get on the water before you buy.  Have the seller do an unload by himself and check it out.

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I am much more likely to turn off my car motor during launching and double checking that the car is in park and the emergency brake is firmly set after watching a guy unhook his bass boat at the bow, start to climb on the boat and then his new pickup slowly slid into the water. He was lucky to get out of the way.

Boat floated off, I retrieved it and then put a marker over the truck. Divers plus tow truck retrieved his pickup from about 10' of water.

Also watched a person on a steep long ramp evidently hit the gas instead of his brake when backing down and came close to ending up in the lake. I usually back down with the gear shift in neutral as I also have come close to doing the same thing in the thousands of launches I've done.

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All good advice, but one more and it's important. Don't put yourself in too much of a hurry because of other people waiting for you that's when mistakes start to happen, slow down and take your time until you have your own system. you'll be faster as time goes on.  

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I will do the rope trick when it is cold.  That way I don't have to touch the cold water.  Just be carefull when you start pulling up and pul the boat to the boat ramp.  You don't want to pull up to fast and have the boat coming to shore to quickly.  

I don't mind getting my feet wet, so when I unload, I pull it down far enough for the boat to start to float.  Then I'll walk do to the boat and I'll unhook the front hook.  The I'll walk down the trailer with the boat pushing it off the trailer.  I have a piece of wood for a walking board.  Then when I get to the end of the trasiler I hope on to the front of the boat.  I then put the trolling motor down and go right ot the dock.  Then I come over and get back in my truck and pull off.  When you pull out without the boat just make sure to give it a little gas because that is the time you will most likely spin the tires, because you don't have the boat weight pushing down on the back tires.  Even with the boat it can still spin the tires if you are at a busy ramp and over time the road gets wet.  When you are pulling the boat out just keep the momentum going and don't stop until you are on flat ground or a good dry spot.

Loading the boat, I do the same in reverse.  I tie the boat to the dock, giving enough room for other boats to dock or let people off.  I try to get the spot closest to the boat ramp.  Then I go and wait in line and then pull my trailer in enough that the side boards are still sticking out of the water.  Fo my boat trailer set up, it's not a factor trailer, I go down to close to my tail pipes.  Each vechile and trailer set up are different.  Then I go over to the boat, and I put the trolling motor down and steer it over to the trailer.  Once I get over the trailer I hope off and stand on the walking board.  I pull it up as far as I can.  Then I hook the front hook and wrench the boat up the rest of the foot or so left.  Then I get in the truck and and slowly pull up and the back of the boat settles down on to the trailer as I pull out.  The side guide rails help it settle perfectly onto the trailer.  I think letting the boat come down onto the trailer is easier and quicker then having to use the main motor to slide along the rollers which sometimes you miss the front keel bumper.  Then I pull up to a open parking spot so the next person can load or unload their boat.  Again it only takes me a couple minutes.

The first couple of times you might be nervous, but once you do it 1-2 times you will see how the best way to load your boat and you will know it is pretty easy.

The only hard apart about loading the boat is if you and one that isn't every good at driving a boat.  Just like cars, not everyone is a good driver.  Those are usually the ones that take longer and they usually are trying numerous times for drive up the trailer trailer to get it perfect or seem to never get it right.  Side guide rollers or boards are very very helpfully in loading a boat.  That make it a breezy to load a boat.

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Everything everyone has posted so far is really spot on info when you start getting close to getting your own boat.  As a side bit, I agree with Jig Man.  If you are buying from a private seller I would make sure you get him to take you and the boat out on the water.  After all, that is the only way to make sure everything worksd as intended.  But you can also use that as a valuable learning oportunity.

Because other people have already written great lists for loading/unloading a boat I won't beat the same dead horse.  What I will add are some things I've learned through trial and error that have some universal use.

First, I always put my plug in when I am at home at the same time I unplug my charger.  I also keep a spare plug in the boat just in case!

Prep the boat for launching and the trip home away from the launch area.  It never fails to see some idiot that decideds to do everything in front of everyone else, making life hard on everyone.  As a disclaimer, I am referring to those jerks that just don't care to waste everyone else's time and hog the ramp.

If you have a launch/recovery issue don't hesitate to ask a fisherman you see loading or unloading.  I can't say the same for pelasure boaters, but fisherman are almost always willing to help you.  That goes double if you are new and just don't know how to do something.  Don't hesitate to ask!

All trailers/boats are different.  Some guys complately submerge the trailer all the way, and other guys don't.  You will have to see what works for you.  For me and my tracker I can't put the trailer very deep when loading or it leads to headaches.  Generally, if you don't have side boards on the trailer, the deeper the trailer sits then the more tendency it will have to drift to one side so that it doesn't sit right when you pull it out.

So for me, I only lower the trailer down until the back 1/5 of the bunks are submerged.  The ribs on the hull of my boat have to line up just right for it to sit straight.  So I like to just barely submerge the trailer, then use the outboard to power over to the trailer, and slide it on a bit.  I check the hull to make sure it is lined up correctly.  Then I hop out (or walk along the trailer to stay dry!), hook the winch strap, then winch it up.  Then I immediately trim the motor up and pull forward slowly until I am out of the way to stow and secure everything.

I highly recommend practicing launch and recovery!  As soon as you get a boat, figure out a time to go to the ramp when it is deserted.  Early in the day (especially weekdays) is a great time.  Practice loading and unloading the boat without an audience.  The same goes for backing the trailer up.  The more you do it the better you get, also you learn to do it faster and more proficiently.  Trying to launch a boat for the first time at a ramp filled with guys loading and unloading ski boats and a long line is not going to do anything to help you out.

Good luck and have fun!

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I undo the back take transom saver off. Back in then undo front and hop in from boat tung. Star boat and backoff trailer. My rope is in a pocket beside my feet. Tie to dock leave motor running most times and deal with the truck/trailer.

I do it this way for many reasons.

1/ I know the boat will start.

2/ Not pushing my guts out.

3/ I'm in control of the boat, not wind momentum wave.

Garnet

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this isn't really help on launching a boat, more courtesy, but this drives me crazy. if your launching/recovering at night, please turn off your headlights while you're at the ramp.  it's so difficult to find a ramp when someones headlights are blinding you. personally, if i use lights, i try to only use my parking lights. last week i was launching and this guy has a lifted F150 was just sitting in the ramp trying to recover his boat but was having trouble. he must have been down there for about 10 minutes with his lights on the whole time.  >:) end rant

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Do not be afraid to ask someone at the ramp for help. Let them know you are a novice and ask them for some pointers. I personally know noone that would refuse to give you some pointers. In fact most would feel pleased to offer help to a newbi. They were all new at one time and any serious boater would help. you just might make a new friend in the process. I try to make it a point to offer help anytime I see someone that is having problems.

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if your launching/recovering at night, please turn off your headlights while you're at the ramp.  it's so difficult to find a ramp when someones headlights are blinding you. personally, if i use lights, i try to only use my parking lights.

We use parking lights only, they are actually helpful to you and others.

The best piece of advice I have to a new boater is to develop a routine and do not deviate from it. (even if you have help loading/unloading)  Doing it the same every time prevents you from forgetting something and also speeds you up.

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When I first got my boat I went in search of lakes that had easy ramps on small ponds, even better if the fishing isn't that great. It's nice to haev your first few times launching and loading without anyone else around. There is no pressure and you can take the time you need to do it right.

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I just wanted to add in my first post I said 5 minutes tops. It's just a rule of thumb. Find a routine and stick with it as someone else stated.

It's really no big deal being by your self. Just plan ahead a little that all. And don't be afraid to ask for help, Really, it's easy.

Likewise guys if you have a few free minutes and see someone struggling, or looks like they are new at this it's always nice to walk up and comment on their boat then ask if they could use a hand. Many people are afraid in this day and age to ask for help, in fear they might be turned down, or ridiculed.

Bill

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I mentioned this in another thread, but when i see people having trouble, I offer to back them in.  They usually say yes.  

It aggravates me to no end, when guys make a wife or girlfriend try to negotiate a ramp in their stick shift truck when the wife/gf have trouble with a stick on level ground.  Never realizing that it would have been faster and safer to load or unload by themselves.

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I undo the back take transom saver off. Back in then undo front and hop in from boat tung. Star boat and backoff trailer. My rope is in a pocket beside my feet. Tie to dock leave motor running most times and deal with the truck/trailer.

I do it this way for many reasons.

1/ I know the boat will start.

2/ Not pushing my guts out.

3/ I'm in control of the boat, not wind momentum wave.

Garnet

This is my routine as well, but instead of tieing off, I beach my jon boat next to the dock.

It's always easier to load and unload in the summer, when getting a little wet is no big deal. I'm a little more careful about walking on the tongue when the water is cold.

:)

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I have had people I did not know actually jump in the boat as I was backing down or crawl into the truck while waiting in line. Most I had never seen, but it does not matter when the line is 30-40 boats long trying to launch. Everyone trys to help.

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