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How to load boat onto trailer, pull out of water.

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  • How to load boat onto trailer, pull out of water.

    OK, I THOUGHT it looked pretty obvious when I watched others at the ramp pull their boats. Well, I did it the other day for the first time and it didn't go so smooth! I was smart enough to do it the first time on a weekday when no one else was waiting so I did get it done, but with lots of screwing around.

    So....I have some questions...

    I have a 19' deep V open bow. Trailer is a carpeted bunk type. Do I:

    1. Drive onto the trailer? If so, how far in does the trailer go? How far from fully on should I drive (before cranking with the winch)?

    2. Do I crank the last foot or so with the boat still in the water a lot or mostly/completely out? I tried to do it in the water and the bow pull bracket was hitting way below where it should on the trailer hook-up ..I assume it was because the stern was floating a bit pushing the bow down?

    3. Do I need to condition the bunks in any way to allow the boat to slide on them more easily or just keep carpet on them?

    Thanks. With some help i may get it right one of these times!


  • #2
    Re: How to load boat onto trailer, pull out of water.

    When you launch, make note where the water level is on the trailer at the point when the boat floats.
    Then when loading out back the trailer in no more (or even a tad less) than when you launched.
    Pull the boat in from there and winch it up to the final position.

    Comment



    • #3
      Re: How to load boat onto trailer, pull out of water.

      I'll tell you the way I learned years ago, and maybe you can fine tune it to your needs. This process takes 2 people so don't do it alone.

      First I'd back the trailer 70% in the water, and hook the bow eye to the winch. You may only need to crank it 5 or 6 times depending on how close you are.

      Make sure the bow eye fits snuggly under the front roller before proceeding.

      Next, pull out very slowly making sure the boat is centered towards the trailer. Watch the person in the water to see if they need to reposition the boat to keep it off the fenders or to recenter it. Proceed to pull out VERy slowly until you 'feel' or see the trailer make contact with the trailer, and pull on out. The boat should self center itself on the trailer with a Deep V design.

      You can fine tune this to your liking and comfort, but later on you can get better at centering the boat on the trailer without so much of the trailer in the water. I've been boating for quite a few years now, and I am to the point where I only have to put up to the half way line on the front tire on my tandem trailer in the water. I then gas it, and drive the boat onto the trailer with it meeting the front roller exactly and gently enough every time.

      You'll get the hang of it. I wouldn't crank you boat onto the trailer with the winch, but that's just my opinion. I've seen a lot of people doing this, but after recently replacing my bow eye I know what damage it causes.
      Everyone starts boating with a bag full of luck.
      As you gain experience the bag of luck empties, and becomes a bag full of experience.

      Comment



      • #4
        Re: How to load boat onto trailer, pull out of water.

        Just guessing from what you have described I would bet you werent in deep enough. When I load mine I am just drifting onto the trailer with the motor off as I am raising the outdrive. So as when my bow gets to the back end of the trailer I shut down and start to raise as I am drifting onto the trailer. They are all a bit different but mine (20' cuddy) will come right to the bow stop Y without any winching. once I get to that point I hook up the winch and snug it into the bow stop. You shouldn't have to power up onto the trailer ever, you chance an accident and can do damage to the ramp depending on how far the asphalt goes down. When you power onto the trailer it causes a turbulance under the water which erodes all of the dirt away from the end of the asphalt and causes a nasty drop off. Try going in a bit deeper with the trailer next time. If seeing the trailer is a problem they have posts you can install at the back corners of the trailer to ease in centering up. Better yet would be side boards they make loading a snap especially in a strong wind or waves. Don't forget to disconnect your lighting connection sometimes if you are in deep it will be submerged and usually blow the filiments out of the bulbs when you push the brake on your truck to pull out. To hand winch a 19 footer a foot up the trailer is WAY more work than it should be plus it is too much for the bow eye to handle on a regular basis. One thing to keep an eye on when in deep is the side of the boat will want to float over the trailer fenders and become misaligned as you pull out. From the inside of the boat look over one side or the other and note in your head how much clearance you have between boat and trailer and as you are slowly pulling the truck out keep an eye on the point you observed earlier and try to maintain that same distance. Once you are out of the water jump out and take a look from behind to make sure everything is sitting properly on the bunk boards. If not back in until it just starts to float and make adjustments as needed(push from side one way or another) You don't want a chine sitting up on a bunk board. Good luck and I am sure others will chime in with more tips and helpful advise.

        Comment



        • #5
          Re: How to load boat onto trailer, pull out of water.

          A couple things i forgot to add you dont need anything on the bunks except the carpet that is there. Do you have straps on the transom? If not might want to look in to getting some. Also the safety chain from the trailer to the bow eye is a good insurance plan if you don't have one might want to price one out. Just my .02

          Comment



          • #6
            Re: How to load boat onto trailer, pull out of water.

            All the tips are good advice but it is a trial and error process as you get to know your boat and trailer and what is that exact spot to back the trailer down the ramp. Practice practice practice, but do that on weekdays when the ramp isn't too busy. You will get it.
            "SeaDog"
            1985 Bayliner Capri 1950 BR
            AQ125a/275

            Even a bad day on the water is better than a day at work!

            Comment



            • #7
              Re: How to load boat onto trailer, pull out of water.

              Loading and unloading alone

              be prepared before leaving home. plug in, gas line connected. etc. i launch alone all the time. parnter not allowed to back trailer (was a disaster). when i get to the launch. i remove stern strap, bow line on bow with a hook that snaps to the winch stand. i back down, jump out release winch hook, then back down, to where the stern starts to float, and tap the brakes this give the boat momentum to float off the trailer, bow line long enough, that i can pull up enough to retrieve the snap on the winch stand, and swing the boat to the dock. then move vehicle.

              i have guide ons on my trailers, and 2 self centering rollers, before going to the ramp i loosen 2-3 feet of winch line, then back down the ramp. go to the boat and motor over to the trailer. i drive on never above idle, reach over the bow connect the winch line, climb over the bow on to the trailer, and winch the rest of the way, then pull up out of the way.

              it takes practice. go to the ramp during the week, when it is not busy, and practice. also, when approaching the dock, another boat, or the trailer, go no faster than you are willing to hit it. you cannot count on reverse to be a brake. engines stall right at the wrong time.
              FLORIDA GATORS
              TEBOW Country



              Please, NO PM's (Private Messages) regarding boat/engine problems. they will not be answered.
              That is what these forums are for. Post your questions, in the appropriate Forum.

              Comment



              • #8
                Re: How to load boat onto trailer, pull out of water.

                i'm pretty much with the others. have all yer prep work done prior to launch. ie plug......i use two lines to controll her, 1 aft, 1 fwd off the bow, boat bummpers on the side to protect it.....i've got one of them roller trailers. don't know that i like only havein 16 pts of contact, but it sure makes off loading and loadin ez. put my fenders in half way, unhook the winch strap and safety chain and give it a push. then go tie up out of the way. same for retrieval. bummpers, lines fore and aft. i've got no guides for the sides, so i just walk it on. fenders half in the water, hook up the winch and crank her up. hook up safety chain and off i go.......
                i think the trick is to know yer trailer and know how far ya put it in to have a safe, clean lauch and retrieval..... if ya don't have a hip wench, get one. a hip wench will have neutral so the crank don't go round and round when yer givin her a push off along with a brake to slow down the lauch if nesessary. about broke my hand on the one that came with my boat......
                'Lime Time'
                1975 AristoCraft Nineteen
                Mercruiser 165hp (chevy 250 L6), MC-1 drive

                Comment



                • #9
                  Re: How to load boat onto trailer, pull out of water.

                  You will find that all boats and trailers are different, requiring slight adjustments in technique til you hit upon what works for you. Myself, I pay the most attention to the bunks relative to the water and worry less about the overall trailer position.

                  I'm firmly in the crank on vs power on camp -- especially as I wasted a full five extra minutes last weekend trying to find a level spot at our local ramp that has deteriorated due to powering on. Coasting on is ok I guess but I've honestly never had reason to do it in over two decades of boat trailering. I launch and retrieve alone 90 percent of the time and find the hassle of climbing out of the boat once on the trailer more trouble than it's worth.

                  I'll back in until there's perhaps all but the last foot of the bunks submerged then turn off the engine while ensuring the transmission is in gear (manual tranny) and parking brake is full on.

                  I then walk the boat as far onto the trailer as it will go, which usually leaves the bow eye about five to seven feet off the front roller once the hull contacts the exposed part of the bunks.

                  From there I'll connect the winch strap and crank the rest of the way. The boat may waggle a bit as she settles into place (especially if there's a strong cross breeze) but in the end she always trues up the last foot or so. I find the act of cranking on in this manner the best for attaining overall good positioning as the boat self-aligns. I've experimented with putting the trailer in deep enough so that the boat comes right to the winch roller and find that it increases the chances of misalignment as you start to pull the trailer out of the water. Also, depending on the ramp angle you can get the bow eye over the roller as has been mentioned.

                  After the boat is snugged on it's on with the safety chain through the bow eye and I get back in the vehicle, start it up and slowly pull forward out of the water. Things can get a bit tricky with the manual tranny as it requires good timing with the clutch pedal so as not to roll back too far on the one hand or stall out on the other.

                  One thing I never see mentioned but I do each and every time before backing in is to walk the ramp and do a visual inspection of the condition of both the exposed and underwater surface.

                  I also unplug my trailer lights before backing in to extend the life of the bulbs (my lights aren't waterproof). Also, inspect the bunk mounts and all trailer hardware regularly when there's no boat on the trailer to ensure everything is tight.
                  Give me a picture and a thousand words!


                  2004 Scout Dorado 175 Dual Console
                  Yamaha 90 4-Stroke

                  Comment



                  • #10
                    Re: How to load boat onto trailer, pull out of water.

                    Sounds like you are off to a good start. I belive most people have very little trouble launching. Better if you have two people, just takes a little longer with one.

                    When you launch disconnect all the straps and saftey chain in the pre launch area. Leave the bow wench connected back down until the stern is in the water but where you can still get to the bow with dry feet to disconnect the wench. If alone tie a loose line to either the trailer or the dock so the boat does not float off. With a partner let them handle the line. If have a dock use fenders and a long line from the bow cleats to the stern clets with lots of extra slack so person on the dock can keep control of the boat when it floats free. Some use a bow line and a stern line but we thank that is harder than one long line.

                    DO NOT disconnect your bow wench line before the stern is over the water because some day someones kid or dog will run behind you and you will need to slam on the brakes. No wench line and you will launch your boat on the concreate. If lights are not waterproof disconnect the lights before launching also.

                    With bunks get a product called liquid roller and spray on the bunks. it makes the boat slide on and off the trailer much eaiser.

                    To retrieve the key is to back the trailer in the right amount. Most people back it in too deep and the boat will not hit the bunks so it does not center. They will take 3 times as long to get it right. You will see them pull the boat up and it leans one way then go back in and push it one way and pull up again and it will lean another way. These people will some day install boat guides.

                    You want the heavy stern to hit the bunks when you still have 3 or 4 feet to get it up the the wench. Then you crank it the rest of the way on. This allows the V hull to center its self. Before you pull out attach the saftey chain just in case the wench line breaks.

                    This will take some practice but with time you will learn how far up the trailer the water should come to allow the boat to center and still not have to crank it too far. If you go to the same ramp you will learn Quickly how far to back in. Every ramp will be different due mainly to how steep the ramp is.

                    Adjust your trailer on flat ground. Your wench line should be under the top roller but when cranked up tight the top roller should be against the bow eye. This stops the bow from bounceing up and down. and in a panic stop on the hwy it does not end up in the back of your truck.

                    If you have a tandom axel trailer the trailer frame should be level to the ground, not higher in the front or back. This keeps the weight equal on both axels. adjust your hitch height for this.

                    Adjust the trailer for your boat. I adjust the bunks or rollers so with the motor all the way down I still have 4 to 6 inches of clearence down to the ramp. This will save you that one day when you forgot to raise the motor before heading up the ramp. Also if when retreiving a higher back bunks will mean your can back in a little deeper and still have the hull center on the trailer and not have to crank too far. Most trailers are very adjustable. Adjust the front as low as can go and still not have any chance of bow hitting the frame. This gets the boat lower behind the vehicle where does not have as much wind drag and again makes the boat eaiser to crank on.
                    Mine was very easy to adjust but will admit all my bunks and rollers tilt to match the angle of the hull. It may take a try or two but adjusting the trailer can make a big difference. Also when adjusting try and get the bunks under the stringer and braces in the boat.

                    The fact that your working on it tell me you will be one that I love to follow down the ramp, getting your boat in and out of the water safely and quickly.
                    Have some fun and enjoy the Great Outdoors.
                    Love to fish out of Bodega Bay, California.

                    Comment



                    • #11
                      Re: How to load boat onto trailer, pull out of water.

                      Originally posted by Boatist View Post

                      .....blah, blah, blah.....this is the key here.

                      To retrieve the key is to back the trailer in the right amount. Most people back it in too deep and the boat will not hit the bunks so it does not center. They will take 3 times as long to get it right. You will see them pull the boat up and it leans one way then go back in and push it one way and pull up again and it will lean another way. These people will some day install boat guides.

                      You want the heavy stern to hit the bunks when you still have 3 or 4 feet to get it up the the wench. Then you crank it the rest of the way on. This allows the V hull to center its self. Before you pull out attach the saftey chain just in case the wench line breaks.
                      Also, once the bunks has lined up the hull, ensure the steering mechanism is centered before you apply power (don't ask me how I know).

                      As soon as I apply power, I ask my truck driver to slip the trailer in the rest of the way, nice and slow.

                      Have fun.......
                      Life is a matter of risk and the chances of success are in no way enhanced by extreme caution...

                      Comment



                      • #12
                        Re: How to load boat onto trailer, pull out of water.

                        As many have stated, all boats/ramps are different.

                        I boat in an area with big tide swings, as well as current. So there are not docks parallel to the ramp as are at many other places. At low tide, you have cement bulkheads on each side of the ramp. So you cannot just let the boat off the trailer and handline it over to the side.

                        I unhook all but the winch hook, but I let a couple feet of cable out. I back in until my rear tires of my vehicle just touch the water, which is either brackish or salt I NEVER BACK MY VEHICLE INTO SALT WATER BUT I SEE FOOLS DO IT ALL THE TIME. I actually extended the trailer tounge two feet when I rebuilt the trailer.

                        I lock my E brake, put it in park, get out and climb over the bow (especially if the water is cold in the winter) and get the motor started. I climb back over the bow (I have an old closed bow runabout) and reach down and unhook the bow strap.

                        I back the boat off. Now here is the bad part- some times the dock, which is a floating dock perpendicular to the ramp with room for two boats on its face- has no availible spots, I have to circle until I can dock the boat, then go get my truck that is blocking one of the ramps and park it.

                        Anyhow that's how it's done here in Savannah!
                        Last edited by EricR; September 19th, 2007, 09:22 PM. Reason: Mis use of an apostrophe in the last paragraph, sorry!

                        Comment



                        • #13
                          Re: How to load boat onto trailer, pull out of water.

                          My very 1st time with my boat was 2 weeks ago. I backed down to load the boat on the trailer. The previous owner told me to back down untill just the top of the fenders are sticking out. I did, and hopped in my boat (18ft fiberglass bass boat) and ran the boat up on the trailer, and gave her some gas. Ran the boat right up to the bumper, hooked her up and was gone in a matter of seconds. My buddy was with and said (man you were the fastest out, out of the last 10 people i seen load up) and it was my 1st time. I just have 2 wide carpeted bunks on my trailer. I guess some boats/trailer are more easy then others. Seems bass boats are alot easier then most when it comes to loading and unloading. My dad had a 14ft deep v lund and it took up to 5-10 mins to get that thing loaded EVERY time. We always felt embarassed so waited untill there was nobody there. The boat never centered right because of the V. Its all in the trailer. he now has a 17ft semi-v bass boat and it loads 10x better then the 14ft deep V did.

                          Comment



                          • #14
                            Re: How to load boat onto trailer, pull out of water.

                            I have heard several people talk about power-loading. DON'T DO IT! Power- loading will damage the ramp. Here in Michigan it is illegal at a DNR launch site and will result in a ticket.

                            One individual said to just use the carpet on the bunks. There are plates for your bunks available that will help your bunks slide better. I think they are called "bunk slicks" but I am not sure. I added them to my bunks for my boat (14ft fiberglass tri-hull) and they seemed to help some. The other thing that will make a difference is to check for any drag on the trailer. In my case, the original owner mounted the spare on top of the trailer tounge and the boat sat on the rubber, or if the tire was low it sat on the rim. Bad for the boat. I re-mounted on the bottom and it came off much easier.

                            Terry

                            Comment



                            • #15
                              Re: How to load boat onto trailer, pull out of water.

                              Lot's of good comments so far... The only thing that I would add is to submerge the bunks completely to allow the carpet to get wet. This will aid in allowing the boat to slide up the bunks, whether you power up or use the winch. Once all the bunks are submerged, pull the trailer up to the point that you launched the boat at that particular ramp.

                              I actually do the same when launching... I back the trailer until the boat is completely off the bunks, then pull up and undo the bow strap. Back until the stern rises. Get on the boat, start her up, etc.

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