Riviera Boat Magazine

Everything you must know to Launch a Boat by Yourself and use a trailer properly

Launching a boat by yourself follows the same routine up to the point of releasing the boat. If there’s a dock at the ramp, it will usually help to back the trailer down as close to the dock as possible.

You are going to want to have a line ready to secure the boat after it floats off the trailer, and there are s everal ways to do this. The best method depends on the ramp.

Option 1

The first method is to attach a single line to both the bow and the stern cleat.

  • Back down the ramp and push the boat off the trailer while holding the line.
  • Once the boat is free use the trailer as a step and hop onto the dock.
  • Now with the single line you can control the boat—the stern can’t swing away from the dock—and walk the boat down the dock and out of the way of the trailer and others waiting to use the ramp.
  • Secure the boat to the dock, park the vehicle and you’re ready to go.

This method works when the dock is low and easy to reach. If that’s not the case, you’ll need a longer line.

Option 2

  • Secure one end to the middle (spring) cleat on the boat and, after backing down but before releasing the boat.
  • Secure the other end to a cleat or piling as far down the dock as possible.
  • Now back down a little further if necessary, release the boat and then hop on the dock to pull the boat away from the trailer and then secure it to the dock.

Option 3

  • Secure a long line (about 25 feet) to the bow cleat, coil the line and place it on the bow of the boat, and then tie the other end to the trailer.
  • Now back down and release the boat or just let it float off the trailer.
  • Next drive up the ramp a few feet, park and go back to the trailer.
  • Untie the line and because you’ve got plenty of length you should be able to walk over to the dock and pull the boat up to the dock and secure it.

 Getting Your Boat Off the Trailer

With your vehicle in park and the parking brake set, get out and remove the safety chain from the bow eye, and release the trailer winch so the strap goes slack and you can unclip it from the bow eye. Your helper can also do this while you wait in the vehicle, but you still should put the vehicle in Park and set the brake.

Depending on the ramp and your tow vehicle, you may or may not be able to release the boat without standing in the water. It’s best to wear footwear that can get wet, or boots.

  • Hand the bow line to your helper (and the stern line if it will reach) and give the boat a little push. It should float and slide off the trailer. If not, you’ll need to back in a little further.
  • Your helper can now hold the lines and walk it down the dock until the boat is clear of the trailer. If the helper also holds the stern line the boat won’t swing out into the launch area.
  • Walk the boat as far down the dock as possible to get out of the way of the next party waiting to launch. If your helper is able to operate the boat (or park the vehicle and trailer) an alternate plan is for one person to be in the boat as it’s backed down the ramp.
  • Lower the outdrive or outboard after the boat is in the water and start the engine before releasing the bow eye.
  • Now you can float the boat off the trailer and your helper can power the boat out of the way of the busy ramp and pick you up at the dock after the vehicle is parked.

Using this method you’ll know before you release the boat that the engine will start. As soon as the boat is free, move the vehicle and trailer out of the way, park and return to the dock and the boat.


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