Boating Bits

Move Trailer tips – Retrieving Your Trailer

MOVE Trailers shines a light on boat retrieval to simplify common trailering practices and help more people enter into boating.

Move Trailer expert Adam Crossley drills down on his top tips with boat retrieval.

After a cracking day out on the water, all boaties hope to have a seamless process when bringing their vessel in. Whilst many factors can cause challenges including wind and tides, practice and understanding a few clear tricks can make for a more stress free and smooth experience.

As with every boat trailering experience, the most important first step is ensuring your trailer is in sound condition, is the right fit and design for your boat (i.e. roller vs. skid), and is set up with the essentials; for example a catch ‘n’ release system if boating solo and a high-quality lighting loom.

Mastered following decades of marine excellence and design perfecting, Move Trailers provides a strong, reliable and steadfast trailer to every new and old boater Australia-wide.

Designed from aluminium, Move trailers triple the lifespan of steel and are lightweight, manoeuvrable and resilient to rust.

Boat ramp ettiquette

The boat ramp tends to be a high-traffic area, bustling with likeminded boaters keen to get in or out of the water. If the boat-ramp process is performed effectively, it can make for an extremely seamless flow – which is what everyone wants. Ensuring everything is performed effectively, whilst also efficiently will mean less time at the ramp, and more time on the water for every ramp user.

There are some important boat ramp etiquettes that all marinecraft users should be aware of.
Know the rules of the ramp
Knowing the rules of the ramp will prevent damage to the ramp, your vessel and vehicle. Rules include restricted hours of use and maximum size of vessel due to water depths.

Never load or unload your boat on the ramp
Never prepare the boat for launching on the ramp, regardless of the number of boats waiting to use it. It is good practice to prepare off the ramp even when there is no-one waiting. Preparing the boat and trailer involves a wide range of tasks, including: removing covers, removing trailer straps, turning on the battery switch (having checked the battery is fully charged before leaving home), trimming the engine up, fitting the bungs, priming your motor for a quick start, rigging bow lines, fitting fenders, putting the aerials up, putting your personal belongings in the boat and more. Most ramps have a preparation area set aside exclusively for this purpose and some are even sign-posted accordingly.

Keep your boat to the side
During the process of launching and retrieving your boat, be mindful of where your boat is positioned or parked. Whether you are alone or with others, while launching and retrieving, make sure your boat is pulled to the side and out of the way of others. When approaching or departing the ramp (from either vehicle or vessel), keep an eye on others to reduce damage to any boats or people.

Don’t jump the queue
During busy periods such as weekends, you may arrive at the boat ramp to find a line-up of boats waiting to launch. Be respectful of others by not pushing-in or jumping the cue – simply wait your turn and everyone should walk away happy.

Retrieving Your Boat

When it comes to retrieving your boat, this is accomplished in the opposite way you launched it. Below are some steps that will help you get your vessel out of the water and ready to take home.

Be prepared
If berthing, organise your berthing lines and fenders prior to approaching the dock. If you have another person with you who will be driving the vehicle and trailer, let them hop out and back the vehicle with trailer down the ramp. You can stay with the boat at the pontoon or alternatively, idle in the area until the trailer is in the water. Don’t leave your boat tied-up to the jetty or pontoon for more than 10 minutes.

Many experienced boaters will drive their boats on and off the trailer (we will cover this later, although this is discouraged by some local councils). However, inexperienced boaters and others launching and retrieving single-handed may need to tie-up to the pontoon, to allow for car/trailer retrieval and boatramp preparation.

Wait for the trailer to get into the water
If accompanied, the vehicle driver will need to back the trailer far enough into the water so that you can pull the boat on. If you are still in the boat, you can signal to the driver to let them know that they are far enough in. In general, this will be the same depth as when you launched the boat. The tires of your trailer should be partially submerged, and the back of the trailer should be submerged. The driver should then put the vehicle into park or neutral with the handbrake on. They can leave the vehicle
running, as they’ll need to drive away as soon as the boat is on the trailer.

Pulling the boat up onto the trailer
If manually loading the boat, remember to raise the motor, pull the boat around to the back of the trailer, connect the winch cable and hook it up to the boat. While holding strain on the painter (rope), wind the winch, ensuring that the boat is pulling up onto the trailer straight.

If someone is with you and confident enough to operate the boat, they can motor the boat to the back of the trailer, where you can connect the winch strap. Using the motors trimmed gentle forward motion, they can ease the boat onto the trailer as you wind in the winch until your boat is fully on the trailer and hard against the bow roller on the winch post. Once you have accomplished that, you can attach the safety chain.

Pull out of the water
Once you’ve winched the boat up on the trailer, pull away from the ramp, ensuring to drive slowly and leave the ramp clear for the next person. When you have moved to the preparation bay, or somewhere clear of the boat ramp and vehicle turning area, you can unpack the boat, remove bungs, attach tie down straps and ready the boat for the trip home.

Alternative launch and retrieval method (powered launch):
Many experienced boaters and fishermen will drive, or power their boats on and off the trailer. Regardless, do not feel pressured to do the same. Whilst ensuring all practices are actioned effectively and correctly, you should also be efficient as possible, taking into consideration other boat ramp users.

– Follow the same retrieval process
– Be prepared before arriving at the boat ramp.
– Tie the boat up to the pontoon, back the trailer down the boat ramp to the correct depth (remembering
this may need to be slightly deeper when driving on).

If solo retrieving:
– Make sure your boat and trailer have the correct catch and release fitted. Angle your boat toward the
trailer and slowly drive onto it, trimming the motor as you approach. Using the motor, drive the boat up
onto the trailer engaging the catch and release system.
– Turn the motor off and trim the engine, climb out of the boat, hook the winch strap to the boat and connect the safety chain.

If accompanied:
– Angle your boat toward the trailer and slowly drive onto it, trimming the motor as you approach. Using the motor, drive the boat up onto the trailer. As you reach the bow roller, the vehicle driver will attach the winch strap and safety chain – keep the motor in forward gear until this is done. Once the vehicle driver indicates you are secure, turn off the motor and trim up the engine.
In many cases, the boat ramp is a no wake zone, so you cannot power your engine to full throttle. Approaching your trailer at high speeds is also incredibly dangerous and could result in overshooting, causing damage to the boat or tow vehicle. Take it slow. If it takes more than one attempt to get onto the trailer, that’s okay. You want to keep you and your equipment safe.

Contact your local Move Trailer dealer at for more information.

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