You’ve spent a sunny weekend on the water cruising around on the pontoon, but sadly, as with all good things in life, the weekend must inevitably come to an end and you’ll need to get that boat loaded onto the trailer.
Loading a boat doesn’t have to be complicated, but we are fully aware that it can be extremely intimidating for
many new boaters.
And rightfully so! You want to do it right to avoid dinging up your new boat!
That said, there are some simple steps you can follow to make the process a lot easier to tackle with confidence.
1. Practice Makes Perfect!
First things first, you are going to want to practice backing up your boat trailer because being able to do so skillfully is one of the most essential aspects of loading a 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.
One of the most important things to remember is to keep it slow and steady. 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 loading, you will feel a whole lot more comfortable and confident in your skill set.
2. Inspection And Protection
Before you even bring your boat near the loading zone, you need to think about protecting your boat.
To do this, you are going to want to take a few minutes to fully inspect your trailer bunks to ensure that they are free from any damage or obstructions.
We are talking holes, torn carpet, screws and bolts protruding that can harm your pontoon.
A few minutes of inspection can save you a whole lot of money and time in repairs down the road.
3. Lighten Up
You'll want to make sure everyone is off the boat because a lighter load will be easier to manage once you are in the landing zone.
Similarly to when you are cruising, more weight on board calls for more thrust on that engine to get moving.
While loading a trailer requires a lot less thrust, the same principles apply.
4. Backing Up The Trailer
It’s time to enter the loading zone!
You start by reversing your tow vehicle and trailer down the ramp carefully and slowly until your trailer bunks are submerged.
The goal in this wetting process it to make it easier for your boat to slide up the bunks with less friction.
That said, you don’t want to submerge too deep in the water since you don’t want your boat floating above the trailer. Because even if you manage to pull straight onto the trailer, the wind can easily set the boat off course and you are back at square one.
It's also worth noting that you should keep an eye on the back tires of your tow vehicle because wet tires can make it difficult to navigate on a slippery ramp.
Once you've covered this, you can pull the vehicle forward as necessary to make the proper adjustments.
Now all you have to do is shift the tow vehicle into park and apply the safety brakes.
That was easy right?
5. Time To Load Up
The moment of truth has finally arrived, it's time to load that boat!
Here are some tips that will help you load your boat like a pro:
- Attempt to float the boat as close to the trailer as possible. Unless you are dealing with crosswinds, you can typically float your boat most of the way.
- When dealing with wind you can use a dock hook to simplify the process. As you’d imagine, a dock hook is a rod that has an end which is designed to grab dock cleats and pull the back end of the boat into position when you are fighting against the wind.
- If need be, drive very slowly on to the trailer. You want to avoid applying the throttle and "power loading". Doing this can wreak havoc on the ramp. So instead, try to alternate between neutral, a slow idle, and reverse when necessary.
- Drive the boat onto the trailer and once you are in position you can attach the winch hook to the boat. Now all you have to do is crank it in until your bow is snug against the winch post, and secure the boat as necessary.
- Pull the boat slowly up the ramp.
- Securely add your tie downs to each tube.
- Remove or strap down any gear or cargo.
There you have it. With a little practice, combined with following these boat loading guidelines, you will be loading your boat like a seasoned expert in no time.