The waters are calling your name, and your pontoon is waiting. All that's left to do is get her on the water. Launching a pontoon is far from rocket science, but for first timers it can be slightly intimidating.
To take some of the pressure off, let's go through a step-by-step guide that will have you launching your pontoon boat like a pro!
1. Practice Makes Perfect!
First things first, you are going to want to practice backing up your pontoon boat trailer because being able to do so skillfully is one of the most essential aspects of launching a pontoon boat.
Also one of the most intimidating!
So before you arrive at a busy ramp with many other boaters waiting in line, take a few practice runs somewhere else.
You want to work on keeping it slow, steady, and straight. If your first attempt at backing up a trailer is at a busy ramp, you might feel nervous or rushed.
With a little practice prior to launching, you will feel a whole lot more comfortable and confident in your skill set.
2. Be Prepared
Don't be "that guy".
You know, the one holding up ramp traffic taking care of all the small prep work he could have easily done before getting ready to launch.
Before you even bring your pontoon boat near the ramp you want to make sure you are prepared by taking care of the following:
- Load up your safety equipment and any other gear
- Disconnect any electrical outlets and incandescent light bulb plugs
- Get your mooring lines and fenders ready
3. Backing Up The Trailer
Now that you are all prepped and ready to go, it's time to back that pontoon boat into the water.
You start by reversing your tow vehicle and trailer down the ramp carefully and slowly, making only slight steering corrections as necessary.
If possible, have a second set of eyes spotting you.
The goal is to slowly back down the ramp until the propeller is completely covered, but not so far that the pontoon boat wants to float off the trailer - not just yet anyway!
Now all you have to do is shift the tow vehicle into park, and apply the safety brakes.
That was easy right?
But wait, you aren't quite finished yet!
4. Time To Launch
The moment of truth has finally arrived, it's time to launch that pontoon boat!
Here are some tips that will help you launch your pontoon boat like a pro:
- Get your engine started! Well, at least for a test run. While the pontoon boat is still secured to the trailer, you will want to start the engine to make sure the water pump is functioning properly. You will see water shooting out of the lower unit as an indication that things are running as they should be.
- Unhook the safety chain and straps.
- If you have someone helping you, have them put your tow vehicle into reverse and have them start to slowly back up the pontoon boat into the water until it floats off the trailer. Usually when you hit the brakes the momentum should give the pontoon boat the last push it needs to launch off the trailer.
- If you are launching solo, you will want to instead back the trailer far enough that you can put your vehicle in park and climb on the trailer to push the boat off so you can jump in and dock it. Alternatively, you can attach a rope to the pontoon boat before reversing the trailer into the water so that you have something to hang onto so you can keep your pontoon boat close to the trailer until you are ready to jump on board.
There you have it. With a little practice, combined with following these boat launching guidelines, you will be launching your pontoon boat like a seasoned expert in no time.