10-Step Pre-Launch Checklist

By Pat Piper
Published: Summer 2013

Follow these tips for safely loading, backing down the ramp, and launching your boat.

1. Move coolers, waterski/tubing/wakeboarding equipment from the tow vehicle to the boat. If your passengers need to use the facilities, this is the time to do it — not when the boat is at the bottom of the ramp and others in line are waiting. Don't move the boat down the ramp until all your crew has arrived, and the boat is fully loaded. If it's a short dock, trying to tackle these tasks once the boat is launched can obstruct other boaters trying to launch/retrieve.

2. Disconnect the tie-down across the gunwales and the transom tie-downs. Keep the boat attached to the trailer with both the winch on the bow eye and the safety chain on the bow eye. You'll remove those once at the water — not sooner because the boat could slide off the trailer while descending the boat ramp incline. If you prefer, disconnect the trailer lights from the tow vehicle.

3. Install the drain plug. Remove the transom saver if you use one. This may also be the time to lower the outboard, or sterndrive if it won't bottom out on the way down the ramp.

Photo of boater getting ready to depart the dock
Photo: Matthew Borkoski Photography

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