While solo fishing trips are a lot of fun, loading and launching a boat without any help is not only frustrating but also time-consuming and very difficult. Luckily, this is a process that, with a little knowledge and practice, can be rather easy to do. Knowing the steps that must be followed for a successful load and a successful launch will help any avid angler feel much more confident handling his or her boat on his or her own.
Prepare for Loading by Setting up the Trailer
The key to being able to load a trailer without any help is first knowing how to handle and set up the trailer. This can be one of the most difficult steps for some people as backing up and controlling a trailer is much harder than it may seem when watching someone else do the work. The first thing you can do to ensure your trailer can be backed up easily is by making sure you have the right trailer tires attached.
It’s important to make sure to back the trailer straight down the ramp’s middle, not off to either side. Additionally, the trailer must be directly pointed at the boat, which will make loading easier. When backing up the trailer, make sure to back it down far enough so that the boat’s front can easily reach the winch.
Get on the Boat and Drive it up
Leaving the trailer backed down to the water, hop into the boat, untie it from the dock, and give it a small push to move the boat out into the water. This is the easiest step and makes it possible to then drive the boat up and onto the trailer without a lot of difficulty.
Once the boat is free from the dock, then it’s time to drive it slowly and carefully up the trailer. If the trailer is not backed down far enough, then this will be difficult to accomplish without damaging the boat or trailer.
Pull it the Rest of the Way and Attach it to the Winch
While some people want to drive a boat all the way onto the trailer and then attach it to the winch, others drive the boat part of the way up and then pull it the rest of the way. This is easy to do on a smaller boat and ensures that you have plenty of control over the boat so that it isn’t damaged.
The downside to doing this is that not everyone is strong enough or has enough control over the boat to pull it onto the trailer and up the ramp easily. Once the boat is far enough up the trailer to attach to the trailer winch, it’s much easier as the winch can keep the boat from sliding back down.
Pull up Slowly
Always drive away slowly when exiting the ramp as this will ensure that the boat is secure and won’t accidentally slip off of the trailer. Some adjustments, such as raising the sterndrive or outboard, may be necessary but this process gets easier with time and practice.
Prepare All Gear Before Backing up
This is key when launching a boat solo as it will prevent you from having to run back and forth and gather gear and can also prevent others from getting frustrated at the delay. All gear should be packed and in the boat before backing it down the ramp. This means that the plug, fishing gear, tackle, and any coolers all need to be in the boat.
When all gear is loaded, then it makes it easy to hop in the boat as soon as the truck is moved. This prevents others from being annoyed and allows you to hit the water as soon as possible.
Launch the Boat with the Help of a Long Rope
Having a long rope securely attached to the front of a boat is key to being able to launch it without help from another person. Attaching one end of the rope to the boat and the other to the cleat inside the bed of the truck is important to keep the boat from coming loose. The rope must be long enough for the boat to come completely free from the trailer.
After backing the trailer up and allowing the boat to float, it’s easy to push or pull it away from the trailer without worrying about it floating away. When the boat is completely free from the trailer, then it’s time to untie the rope from the truck bed and tie it to the dock.
Quickly Stop to Slide the Boat Off
Sliding the boat off of the trailer can be difficult, but a hard stop is very helpful and can speed up the process. Performing a hard stop by hitting the brakes quickly when on the ramp will allow the boat to slide off of the trailer, which makes it easier to launch the boat without pushing it.
It’s important to only do this once the boat has started to float in the water or it can be damaged. An abrupt stop halfway down the ramp will slide the boat the rest of the way -- or most of the rest of the way -- into the water, speeding up launch time.
While it’s completely normal to feel a little nervous about taking a boat out alone the first few times, it only gets easier and more enjoyable with practice. By thoroughly understanding how to load and launch a boat without any help, boat owners can enjoy their time out on the water without feeling as if they have to have someone with them. It does take practice but soon anyone can be handling his or her boat like a pro.