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Beginner Boat Launch Tips

Boating is a popular cottage pastime for all ages and cottagers will be eager to get their boats into the water for summer. While seasoned cottage-goers may have plenty of practice launching their boats into the water, it can be intimidating for beginner boaters who don’t have as much experience. Not to fear, our boat launch tips can help prepare yourself and make the process a little smoother.

Practice Ahead of Time

If you’re feeling nervous about launching your boat into the water, you can practice the reverse techniques in an empty parking lot. Focus on backing the trailer into a designated parking spot and following a spotter’s hand signals. If you are unfamiliar driving with a trailer, pulling the added weight of another vehicle or boat can cause it to possibly move in the opposite direction of your vehicle. For instance, if you turn the steering wheel clockwise, the trailer will start to turn left, whereas the rest of your vehicle is still trying to make the clockwise turn. To help limit opposite movement, place a hand on the six o’clock position on the steering wheel. This will help guide the trailer into the direction you want it to go.

Inspect Launch Site

If it’s possible, inspect the area where you will be launching your boat. Look to see if there any potential underwater hazards, potholes on site or if the ramp is slippery. If the site is made up of mostly gravel or sand, maybe consider finding another place to launch your boat in the water as it can be difficult to brake on steep gravel roads.

Prepare your Gear

Once you drive to the launch site, find a spot to park and organize all your gear and belongings. This is also known as the staging area, where you will have an opportunity to transfer items from your vehicle into the boat, remove the boat cover and transom straps and have the bow and stern ropes tied. This is also considered good boat launch etiquette to help avoid preventable delays.

Slow and Steady

When reversing to launch your boat, monitor your speed and drive slowly. It’s better to take your time down the ramp rather than rushing through the process. There is no set time limit for boat launching. Keep backing your boat into the water until your spotter tells you otherwise. Ideally, the boat should be just floating over the water. When your boat is off the trailer, have your spotter move the boat to a safe location so the next person can launch their boat. Now, your boat is ready for aquatic adventures!

Happy Boating!

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