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Old     (22vdrive)      Join Date: Apr 2010       09-11-2011, 6:03 AM Reply   
So I've been struggling putting my boat back into the trailer. I feel I'm good at boat handling skills except when pulling the boat in. Are there any tricks that I've been missing?
Old     (ReSession)      Join Date: Apr 2010       09-11-2011, 6:25 AM Reply   
The trick is getting it right the FIRST time As you've found out, the boat steers like crap at very low speeds! Your best bet is getting everything lined up as best possible and slowly motoring as straight as possible towards the trailer. Having your trailer too deep can screw you up because you float over the trailer rails meant to guide your boat onto the trailer, so it will take you a few times to find the 'sweet spot'...use a marker like your front tires touching the water, etc.

Keep your movements/throttle as calm as possible...the more aggressive you are with trying to steer or throttle forward/reverse will just get you all squirrely! When I first started boating, I'd tie a rope to a cleat/rail in the bow and toss it to a buddy at the front of the trailer and help to guide me on. It just helped me get the feel for where to steer and if I overshot left/right, a quick tug on the rope got me back on-track!
Old     (baitkiller)      Join Date: Jan 2010       09-11-2011, 8:40 AM Reply   
You must commit.
Line it up and drive it on. At bare clutch speed you are at the mercy of every little wriggle be it wind or water. The boat will creep at the last second and make you over-correct and wind up crossed up on the trailer.
Approaches should be INTO wind or current.
Old     (polarbill)      Join Date: Jun 2003       09-11-2011, 9:21 AM Reply   
Greg's advicce looks good. I like the idea of not having the trailer in too deep. A good rule of thumb is back it in until just the top/front of the trailer fenders are just above or at the surface of the water. This will have your trailer shallow enough that the bunks will catch the hull and center it. Then just power it up until the bow hook hits the roller. If your trailer is in too far you can miss the roller and cause yourself problems. When I do it by myself I drive the boat on till I hit the roller then leave the boat in gear to keep it tight. Then I run up and attache the strap and tighten the crank. Then I run back and take out of gear and turn the boat off. For a beginner it might even be a good idea to keep the trailer even more shallow. Then once you get the front of the hull lined up on the bunks and then the car driver can back in slowly and you can crank the boat up. Greg's other advice about not making too big of moves is good as well. Get lined up from a ways out, bumping it in and out of gear and making very small corrections with the wheel. Begineers tend to move the steering wheel way too much. Remember it doesn't take much to turn the boat, it is just going to be delayed expecially at an idle or just coasting.
Old     (cadunkle)      Join Date: Jul 2009       09-11-2011, 10:17 AM Reply   
Good advice. I'm no pro, and every now and again I have to back it up and line up again. If you do something stupid or a gust of wind comes and throws you way off, don't be afraid to back it up and start your approach again. You'll look like a goober if you have an audience, but not as bad as failing to save a really bad start.

Definitely try to get lined up farther out if possible. Don't over steer. If you need to hit the brakes along the approach try to be slightly offset to the opposite side your boat pulls, so if you bump reverse you get pulled right into line. Mine pulls VERY hard to the right, harder than other inboards I've driven, so I just assume I'll need to reverse and offset slightly left. If I am not lined up right it gives me room to correct, and if it goes perfectly I just bump reverse to sidestep and get centered right before I'm on the trailer. Just don't put the trailer too deep, go slow, and if your slightly off when you hit it the guides and bunks will line you up.

Not sure how your dock/ramp is, but when I'm at a ramp where I just pull in to the dock with a straight line to the ramp I just pull in, park the boat, back in, get to the winch and have a friend toss me a line off the bow... Just pull the line until it's up on the bunks, connect the strap and crank it in that few feet. I think this easier than trying to line up and drive on when I'm already right at the trailer and offset to one side tied up at the dock. Of course whether you do this depends on the ramp setup and if it's real busy or not.

Either way I load it doesn't take more than a few minutes. It takes me longer to put my long safety chain through the bow eye and to the trailer than it takes to get the boat on the trailer and winched tight. On my to-do list is bolting a short chain the the winch post so that step only takes a few seconds. A lot of people don't use a chain, but I'm paranoid about stuff like that and won't move my boat up or down the ramp unless I have strap and chain attached.

Also, practice docking when it's slow and nobody is around... Preferably pulling into a slip if available. It'll help you get used to slow speed handling. These larger inboards are really slow to respond and it's easy to over correct. Practice makes perfect.
Old     (h20king)      Join Date: Dec 2009       09-11-2011, 12:03 PM Reply   
What works for me every time is sink the trailer until the bunks are just barely completely submerged.Then use the throttle to help steer by putting the boat in and out of gear while approaching you will have much more control . Once the bow breaks the plain of the guide posts make sure you are in neutral and let the boat drift foreword until it centers and stops on the bunks then just throttle the rest of the way foreword and secure the boat
Old     (Jeff)      Join Date: May 2010       09-11-2011, 12:28 PM Reply   
Originally Posted by baitkiller View Post
Approaches should be INTO wind or current.
I can't imagine too many scenarios where you'd have a choice on this matter unless you're willing to wait for the wind to change or have the tow vehicle go need you at another more suitably oriented launch.
Old    mojo            09-11-2011, 12:49 PM Reply   
Slow and steady. Also, remember that if ur boat backs left you can come in slightly bow angled to the port side and hit reverse to slow down and be totally straight. Or vice versatile for right backing boats
Old     (Bumpass1)      Join Date: Oct 2010       09-11-2011, 1:58 PM Reply   
Like others have said, don't put the trailer too deep. About even with or an inch above the water level at the front top of the fender. I get a straight approach and get the bow inbetween the guide poles. While the boat is slowly moving forward, I put it in neutral and jump up in the bow and lean over the front and guide and pull the boat on straight. If done correctly the winch strap should be within reach so you can clip it to the bow eye. At that point you are home free. Kill the engine, jump out, turn the crank, and you will off of the ramp before you know it.

Good luck.

Last edited by Bumpass1; 09-11-2011 at 2:00 PM.
Old     (john211)      Join Date: Aug 2008       09-11-2011, 2:31 PM Reply   
(whoa ... did mojo pull the curtain ?)

As mojo said, your boat in reverse kicks the back end in one direction ... consistently and always. Approach at an angle such that little reverse thrusts will straighten you out. Experience probably will teach you that, in given winds and waves, you may need to come in at a sharper angle ... more or less. If all is calm, I come in pretty much at a shallow angle of like 10 degrees or so and hit reverse pretty much to stop as well as drop flat straight in line.

When the weather is foul, all I try to do is get the bow between the goal posts and then haul her up by winch. Worried about looking foolish? Protect that boat. And watch, others will surely be failing worse than your most challenging attempt. Maybe be a Samaritan, and lend a hand to others who haven't a clue. Where I ride, this is typically families.
Old     (ixfe)      Join Date: Aug 2008       09-11-2011, 3:17 PM Reply   
Originally Posted by Jeff View Post
I can't imagine too many scenarios where you'd have a choice on this matter unless you're willing to wait for the wind to change or have the tow vehicle go need you at another more suitably oriented launch.
I think what he means is that you can actually use a cross wind or current to keep you straight by just turning your nose slightly into it.

I do this all the time since we ride in a river and have to load the boat with a slight cross current. I point my bow ever so slighly up stream as I approach the trailer. When I get to within a few boat lengths, I take it out of gear and it straightens out perfectly, right between the guide poles.

If I try to drive on a perfectly straight line into the trailer, I find I'm always fighting the current, Trying too hard to keep it pointing straight as the current pushes me down stream.

Make sense?
Old     (nailem)      Join Date: Apr 2011       09-12-2011, 6:02 PM Reply   
one other thing i like to do is i pull the trailer deep first so the bunks are completely submerged and then pull out to the point everyone else is saying. this gets the bunks wet. i feel it helps the boat slide on better and helps if you have to do the last inch or two of cranking by hand.

just watch on some ramps you could drop the tires of the edge of the ramp.
Old     (srock)      Join Date: Mar 2002       09-13-2011, 9:00 AM Reply   
Sometimes it helps to stop and float for a moment to see where the water and wind is pushing you while getting things lined up. Think calm, cool and collected thoughts because being hyped up causes over reactions/adjustment. Then make a deliberate move with a few clicks in and out of gear to the trailer while never making dramatic adjustments. Any aggressive or erratic move should only be a move to the restart line. The aforementioned advice on depth is perfect but you should take mental notes of what is best for your situation so you can repeat it next time.

I run a little shallow because of the ramp angle to water pushes the nose under the bow roller so it becomes a 2 back-up landing. However, as noted above getting the bow in between the bunks gives you an opportunity to easily correct errors.

A friend of mine who captains multi-million $$ yachts made the point once that if you get into a whole heap of trouble your better off taking one big hit instead of a big hit with a long scratch. Of course his advise on repairs is to "rub money on it".
Old     (bcrider)      Join Date: Apr 2006       09-13-2011, 10:10 AM Reply   
don't overstear and feather the throttle in/out. On our ramp I like the fenders about 2" underwater. I let the boat slide on and then throttle up to the bow stop and stay on the trottle until the front strap is tight. The overstear is the biggest hurtle to over come.


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