HOW TO TRUCK: How to Launch a Boat

Boats don’t have wheels and your truck can’t drive on water. Fortunately, however, trucks are perfect for bringing your water toys to the lake. In the latest installment of our How to Truck series, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know to launch a boat.

Step 1: Assess the Boat Launch

Boat launches are not all created equal. Some are beautiful concrete, while at others you’re lucky to get a bit of gravel. Make sure you note all of the potential obstacles at the launch before backing down.

Step 2: Prepare Your Boat

The last thing you want to do is launch your boat without gas, or without a plug in the back. Make sure everything is onboard before you launch, including life jackets, a tow rope and a paddle.

Step 3: Backing In

Backing a trailer in can be tough, but it gets easier once you get the hang of it. The basic rule to remember is, when your steering wheel is turned left, the trailer wheels go right and vice versa.

A good habit to get into is to begin by walking around your trailer and visualizing the entire reverse in your mind. While backing in, use a combination of the mirrors, backup camera and looking over your right shoulder to guide the trailer where you want it to go.

The first move in maneuvering, which we’ll call the cut, sets up the trailer on the proper angle, then the second move, when you follow the trailer, continues the turn while bringing the vehicle’s wheels back in line with trailer’s wheels.

When making the cut, beware of jackknifing the trailer, which means you don’t follow fast enough and the truck and trailer end up on close to a 90-degree angle.

Like with the whole boat-launching process, you’ll want a spotter outside the truck for this.

Step 4: Prepare Your Boat Again

Get your boat close to the water then gently stop and put your truck in park with the parking brake engaged.

This is where you will prepare the last few things on the boat. You’ll need to take off any rear-end straps, then remove the front strap holding the boat to the trailer.

Make sure to disconnect the power to the trailer lights before submerging the lights in the lake. Some lights are built to withstand water intrusion, but it can’t hurt to disconnect them just in case.

Step 5: Shift into 4WD

Having your truck in four-wheel drive will help eliminate the chance of the tire slippage and should help you dig out of any mud or sand you get into.

Step 6: Launch Time

Make sure your buddy in the boat is ready to go, then slowly start to back in. When you think the boat is about ready to start floating, start lightly tapping the brakes every few seconds. You should be able to clearly see when the boat is floating and free of the trailer. Wait for the boat to float past the submerged trailer before moving forward.

Step 7: Be on Your Way

Finally, pull the truck back up the loading ramp. Watch and make sure your friend in the boat is making out alright and doesn’t need any help out on the water. Then pull up the ramp and be on your way.

And that’s how you launch a boat.

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