Safe Boating Course

CHAPTER 3: Trip Planning and Preparation


When it’s time to retrieve your boat, it’s a great idea to have someone at the boat launch to ‘spot’ for you. This is especially important if you are dealing with a steep boat ramp.

Both you and your spotter should be keeping an eye out for any pedestrians or other boats in the area.

Get your towing vehicle and trailer ready and then wait for your turn.

Remember, like when launching your boat, the proper etiquette is to unload all your extra fuel and equipment away from the launch, so as not to delay other boaters.

When it’s your turn to retrieve your boat, back your trailer into the water until two-thirds of its bunks or rollers are submerged. Like launching your boat, you should keep your towing vehicle’s wheels out of the water unless absolutely necessary.

Next, attach a bow line to the boat in order to steady the retrieval process.

Now maneuver or cautiously drive your boat close enough to attach the winch line.

Once the winch line is attached, shut off the engine and tilt the engine up.

Crank the winch line to pull the boat up the trailer. Stay out of the direct path of the winch line in case it breaks.

Once your boat is well secured, tow your trailer out of the water and away from the boat ramp; out of the way of others.

Now it’s time to begin your preparation for the road. Remember to remove your drain plug, pump or drain any water out of the bilge, and drain the live-wells or bait-wells if you have them.

To stop the spread of aquatic species, it’s also important that you clean your boat before you leave the ramp area. Some states have specific requirements that must be followed to stop the spread of aquatic species, so check the regulations in the state where you are boating. As a rule, you should always remove all plant materials from your boat.