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How to Launch a Boat

by Jake Gourd

Many people new to boating are anxious about controlling their expensive investment; with practice launching your boat will soon be a straightforward task. The first thing any neophyte captain should do is hook their boat trailer up and head to a quiet car park and get some practice. Arriving at a boat ramp and attempting to launch your boat before you know how to reverse a trailer isn't recommended.

Basics of reversing with a trailer

Firstly position your vehicle and trailer as straight as you can and roughly a trailer's length from the place you want to reverse. Keep your eyes on the trailer out of the driver's window while slowly reversing, and start turning the steering wheel towards the right. Grasp the wheel at the bottom and steer gently and progressively - it is fat easier to add more steering than to correct it after turning too much. Grasping the wheel at the bottom should prevent you from over-turning the wheel and if your steering wheel starts straight, you will know throughout the turn, without looking, that at the lowest point your wheels are straight again.

When the trailer starts to turn, start straightening up while still reversing. Leave straightening up too late and moving the wheel to quickly will cause the trailer to jack-knife.

Eventually you will be steering in the opposite direction whilst still reversing. Bring the vehicle's front around to follow the trailer and watch where the trailer is in case it needs to be corrected.

Continue reversing in a straight line looking in both mirrors. Reverse carefully and slowly. When you can see more of the trailer in one mirror, steer towards that side to start moving the trailer the other way. Corrections only require a small steering movement.

Moving forward to straighten the trailer is a simple option before continuing to reverse.

With practice you will be confident in your ability to back up several hundred feet without jack-knifing your trailer or rear-ending anything you are ready to launch your boat at a boat ramp. Try and select a quiet weekday morning for your first launch and have experienced help at hand.

At the launching ramp

The first important rule when launching is being prepared before you position on the launching ramp. That means ensuring that all your equipment safely stored, the boat drain plug in, the boat key in the ignition, any fastening straps off, the trailer lights disconnected and a safety rope connected to the bow of the boat.

Keep both the winch strap and safety chain on the trailer connected until you reach the water. It only takes second to disconnect them before you launch.

Slowly reverse the boat down the ramp and stop just before the stern of the boat hangs over the water. Disconnect the winch strap and remove any pins or other devices used to prevent any outboard motor from tipping down. When the boat is disconnected from the trailer back the boat down until the wheels of the trailer are submerged in the water

When the boat is ready to float off, have a boating buddy take the bowline or tie the line securely to your vehicle or winch handle.

Once the boat is away from the trailer, either beach the boat or tie it off to the dock with the bowline. An experienced boatman will have someone start the engine and move the boat away from the dock until the driver has parked the vehicle and is ready to board.

You should attempt to launch as quickly and as smoothly as possible to show courtesy to other boaters.

When putting your boat back onto the trailer the same rules apply, but there are a few other hazards that you should be aware of, particularly if you're tired or feeling rushed.

When you tie up your boat at the dock, put your vehicle keys in your pocket, retrieve your vehicle and claim a space in line at the ramp to remove your boat from the water.

It is important that before you tow your boat out of the water ensure that the engine has been tilted up to avoid damaging it on the ramp.

Many common problems when launching can be avoided by ensuring everything on your boat is in working order before you set off from home!

Written for Bob Spalding by Jake Gourd. Online retailers of Campion boats and other marine, leisure and extreme sport gear based in the UK.

Article Source: http://ezinearticles.com/?expert=Jake_Gourd.

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