Chapter 3: Launching and Operation

Boat Retrieval

It is recommended to have someone with you when launching the boat. It is even more helpful to have someone assist when retrieving it. Having someone "spot" is especially vital when retrieving a boat on steep boat ramps. The spotter should act as an extra pair of eyes, looking out for any other boats or passing pedestrians.

Just as with launching a boat, the common practice is to unload all additional fuel and gear away from the launch site itself. This shortens the wait time, for other boaters, by making sure that no one is blocking the launch site while unloading.

Boat Retrieval 2/3

Here are the steps to take when retrieving a boat:

  • Backup the trailer, into the water, until two-thirds of its bunks or rollers are submerged.
  • Attach a bow line to the boat to keep it steady as one retrieves it.
  • Move the boat close enough to attach a winch line by either maneuvering it or slowly and carefully driving it.
  • After the winch is attached, shut off the engine and tilt it up.
  • Crank the winch line to begin retrieving the boat. Steer clear of the winch line during this step in case it snaps or breaks.
  • After retrieving the boat from the trailer, ensure that the bow eye is secure.
  • After securing the boat to the trailer, tow the trailer and attached boat out of the water away from the launch zone, clearing it for others.

Once the boat has been successfully retrieved, it is time to get ready to tow it back home. Remove the drain plug and drain away any water from the bilge. Also, drain any live-wells or bait-wells if applicable.

Boat Retrieval

Finally, remove all plant life from the vessel before departing. Clean your boat of any attached water life as well. This is a general rule of thumb to help stop the spread of aquatic species, but some states have even stricter regulations so check them before heading out onto the water.

Again, it is common courtesy to unload fuel, equipment, and gear away from the ramp. Block the ramp as little as possible for your fellow boaters.

Remember to ensure that your bow eye is secure after retrieving your vessel!