Launching and loading a watercraft can be intimidating, for both newcomers and seasoned boaters alike. Avoid the stress by learning how to properly and efficiently launch and load your watercraft like a pro.
Start with preparation:
The main mistake novice or inconsiderate ramp users make is to not adequately prepare their craft and gear before they approach the ramp, resulting in excessive time occupying the ramp lane and irritated ramp users awaiting their turn. Avoid this scenario by starting your preparation long before you reach the ramp.
Before you leave the house:
Briefly start your watercraft on the trailer to ensure the battery is charged and the craft is running smoothly. This is also a great time to verify your fuel level. If it’s low, stop off and fill your tank on the way to the ramp. Home is also where you’ll want to remove your watercraft’s cover, make sure you have all your life vests and other gear, including dock lines, and load any snacks or drinks into storage compartments or coolers.
When you arrive at the ramp:
Avoid the temptation to pull right up to the launch area. Instead, look for a designated pre-launch area, or pull out of the way of ramp traffic and prepare your craft. This includes removing the transom tie-down straps, installing the drain plug, making sure the safety lanyard is attached, and attaching longer dock lines to your craft’s integrated tie-down points.
Approach the ramp area:
When it’s your turn, back into an open lane and proceed down the ramp until your watercraft’s transom(s) are in the water. With the tow vehicle secured in park and the emergency brake engaged, disconnect the trailer’s winch strap from your craft’s bow eye so that the craft can float off the trailer bunks. A member of your crew can then pull the craft over to the dock using the attached dock line. Once the craft is clear of the trailer, the tow vehicle driver should then exit the ramp and proceed to the parking area, clearing the ramp lane for the next user. Once the driver returns, just put on your PFDs, climb aboard and hit the water.
When returning to the ramp at the end of the day, simply reverse the process. Drop the tow vehicle driver off at the dock and wait in an out-of-the-way spot while he or she retrieves the tow vehicle. Once it’s the driver’s turn, they’ll once again back down into an empty ramp lane and secure the vehicle once the trailer is sufficiently in the water. Riders can then load the watercraft onto the trailer bunks, ensuring the trailer’s winch straps are connected to the watercraft’s bow tow eye. With all riders clear, the tow vehicle driver can then pull off the ramp and proceed to a parking space or post-launch area to remove dock lines, loosen the drain plugs, unload any loose gear and finally, attach the transom tie-downs.
Launching and loading your watercraft is a key step to enjoying your Sea-Doo out on the water. Prepare beforehand, learn how to be efficient when getting on and off the ramp, and stress will never enter into the equation.