So you’ve finally fulfilled your nautical dreams and have acquired your very own boat—but you’re not quite sure where to go from here. In this exciting time, it’s important to know exactly what you’re doing when you make it to the marina for the safety and well-being of everyone present. From prep work to getting in the water, here is how to properly launch a boat.
Proper preparation of the boat before you even leave for the water is the first and unarguably most important step of boat launching. Check the vessel for any damages, including basic signs of wear and tear. Things to look for include rust spots, holes, leaking fluids, or loose seating. Meticulous care of your boat will serve to keep you safe in the long run. Follow a list of boat parts and terminology to help guide you in your inspection.
When you’re done searching for signs of wear, prepare the boat by adding fuel and other fluids (if applicable), checking mooring lines, and making sure you have your safety gear like life vests in tow. After preparing your boat at home, you’re ready to head off for your launch!
At The Marina
The prep work is done, the boat is on the trailer, and you’ve finally reached the water. Now what? The following steps should be taken for a smooth and easy launch.
- Unplug all tow lighting and electrical components. Water and electricity don’t mix for obvious reasons, so in order to stay safe and keep your electrical systems working, be sure to unplug everything before lowering your trailer to the water’s edge.
- For boats that aren’t self-bailing, the second step is to properly install the drain plug in your boat. Exact instructions on how to do so should be included in your boat’s manual. This is an important step that cannot be missed or you risk sinking your boat! You can also find videos online that show you how to choose and install the drain plug.
- Undo the tow straps and holds. Simultaneously, you should prepare your dock lines for immediate use – this will save you valuable time once the boat is in the water.
- Slowly back your trailer down to the water’s edge. This is easiest when done with two people (one for driving and one for spotting the driver) but can be done alone if necessary. Be sure to drive cautiously and keep your concentration as you descend the ramp, keeping your foot brake-ready at all times.
- Before exiting your vehicle, engage the parking brake. This will give you extra peace of mind that your vehicle won’t slip out of park while you’re freeing the boat from the trailer.
- Gently push the boat off the trailer and into the water, and let down the lower unit.
- Turn on the bilge blower to rid the boat of any trapped fuel fumes, then crank the engine.
- In order to move your vehicle from the ramp, you will need to secure the boat to the marina by using the mooring lines. Make sure the line is properly attached to the hook before walking away or you risk having your boat float away. Mooring accessories can easily be purchased online.
- After moving your vehicle, have other passengers board the boat. Undo the mooring lines and bring them into the boat with you when you enter.
- Carefully back your boat into deeper water, making sure not to hit other boats as you go.
- Put the boat in gear and have a great time.
As you can see, there are many steps to be taken when launching a boat at the marina. With a little care and a whole lot of enthusiasm, you can learn to launch your boat and enjoy life on the water!