Don’t Be That Boat Ramp Guy

Sweaty palms and beating heart aside, it’s not that difficult to back a boat into the water all by your lonesome. The trick is to practice midweek when the ramps are empty and there’s no one around to make you hurry. Here’s the drill.

--Perform all the pre-launch checklist items before pulling up to the ramp: Remove trailer tie-down straps or chains, put the plug in, put key in ignition, load gear into the boat. What really aggravates people is when boaters do all this while blocking a ramp. Look at the ramp dock and decide where you will tie up the boat; put fenders and dock lines in place.

--Back the trailer into the water until the tires are wet. (Experiment with your boat to determine the stopping point at which you can safely remove the safety chains and still work the winch.) Unhook the safety chain and winch cable. Attach a separate 20-foot line from the bow cleat to the winch post. Loop the spare line so it will unspool without snagging.

--Back the trailer into the water until the boat begins to slide off the bunks. Tap the brakes to bump the boat off the trailer. Put the vehicle in park and set the brake. Walk to the trailer and unhook the line from the winch post. Walk the boat down the dock and tie off. Park your vehicle. If there is no dock available or you can’t reach it from the ramp, simply pull the boat back to the trailer, walk down the trailer, hop into the boat, and motor it to the dock or anchoring spot.

Master this and you'll be able to take on even the busiest boat launches...