Trailering & Launching

From Trailer Boats Magazine’s Guide to Towing

You can never be too safe when trailering. Just as any good pilot goes over his safety checklist before taking off, it’s wise to do the same when towing.  Here’s a list of important items you need to address every time you head to the water.

A quick note from Your Boating Headquarters, remember the launch ramp can be a stressful place.  Be patient, know other people are having the same thoughts about launching and retrieving their vessel as you.  If you follow the guidelines below, you will soon become the seasoned trailer boater.  Boating is about fun, so relax and everything will go just fine.

For more info about towing, please check out the short videos from Trailer Boats. At their website www.trailerboats.com/video.  For further instructional information.

Find your Tow Ratings available at   http://trailerboats.com/towrating/


  • Check cold tire pressures on the tow vehicle and trailer.
  • Make sure you are towing the trailer in a level position.
  • Verify that lug nuts on the tow vehicle and trailer are tightened to the correct torque setting.
  • Stow all U.S. Coast Guard required safety equipment in the boat.
  • Secure engine outboards or sterndrives in the full-up position.
  • Tightly secure the boat cover if it is used when towing.
  • Secure the coupler. Insert a bolt or other locking device into the coupler so it doesn’t pop open.
  • Connect the trailer lights and check that they are working properly.
  • Secure the safety chains and emergency brake cable.
  • Raise the trailer jack and lock it in place.
  • Ensure that the boat is snug against the bow stop and secured with a winch strap, plus a safety chain or tie-down.
  • Make sure the ransom tie-downs are tight.
  • Properly secure all equipment inside the boat.
  • Adjust the tow-vehicle mirrors as needed.

BOAT PRE-LAUNCH (in parking area or ready lane)

  • Remove tie-downs.
  • Remove engine support.
  • Disconnect trailer wiring (lights) from tow vehicle.
  • Load and stow gear to be carried aboard.
  • Check boat systems: blower, engine, bilge pumps, lights and horn.
  • If equipped, turn on the engine-compartment blower.
  • Make ready docklines, fenders and boat hook.
  • Don’t forget to install the drain plug.


  • Back down the ramp far enough to allow engine cooling water to be picked up.
  • Set the emergency brake, put the vehicle in park, and block the rear wheels.  Do the same when retrieving the boat.
  • On sterndrive or outboard boats, lower the drive.
  • Start the engine and let it warm up.
  • Disconnect the winch hook from the bow eye.
  • Proceed to launch.


  • Back the trailer into the water, but do not submerge it too deeply.
  • The skipper should approach the trailer slowly, taking wind and current into consideration.
  • Nudge the boat’s bow into the center of the trailer; let it settle before winching or powering up to the bow stop.
  • Attach the bow strap and safety chain.
  • Raise the outboard or outdrive before driving up the ramp.
  • Clear the ramp area as quickly as possible.
  • Reconnect trailer wiring, attach tie down straps, lower antennas and secure rig for the road away from the ramp.
  • Remove the drain plug.
  • To prevent corrosion and help fight invasive species, wash the boat and trailer, and flush the engine with fresh water as soon as possible.

This information provided above is courtesy of Trailer Boats Magazine 2009 Your Guide to Towing.  Check them out online at www.trailerboats.com.  Pick up your own copy of the trailer guide at our Marine Center of Las Vegas location.

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