Launching a Big Boat—By Yourself




With boating season a few weeks away, we thought it might be a good idea to re-post this NEBO video classic, in which Capt. Terry Nugent of Riptide Charters shows how he goes about launching a 33’ center console by himself. Nugent has launched and hauled his boat hundreds of times, so he has the process down to a science. Here are some more tips for launching any type of boat:

1: Plug it: Insert the bilge plug before you launch! Keep a spare handy (as well as a spare key and kill switch clips).

2: Locked & loaded: Don’t block the ramp by loading your fishing rods, tackle boxes, coolers, lifejackets, dog, etc. at the last minute. Do this at home or in the staging area.

3: Ready for action: Get the engines ready to fire before you launch. Turn the batteries on and check the voltage. Insert the boat key(s) and kill switch clip(s). Searching for your boat keys and fumbling around in the console will win you no friends at the ramp.

4: Game plan: Think through the launching process ahead of time and create a step-by-step plan. If necessary, write it down so you can remember the steps.

5: Know thy ramp: Do your homework before arriving at the ramp. Try to learn the layout of the ramp, the grade and tide limitations. Many ramps are completely inaccessible at low tide, so factor this in. Does the ramp have courtesy docks, and are the docks fixed or floating? Do the docks have cleats, rub rails, ladders? What’s the tidal range? All of this will affect your ability to launch and retrieve efficiently.

6: Floats & fenders: Figure out where you can secure the boat while you park your rig. If you’ll need fenders and lines, place them on the correct side of the boat before launching.

7: Parking: Research the parking situation. Many ramps have limited parking and fill up quickly. And some ramps only allow parking for stickered residents, while others charge a cash-only fee. Find out before you arrive!

8: The right ride: Don’t tow a 5,000-pound boat with a vehicle rated for 2,000 pounds! This is just asking for trouble.

9: Engines down: Fully lower and center your engine(s) when it’s time to back off the trailer or load. This will give you better control of the boat.

10: Have towing insurance: You won’t miss it ‘til you need it, so get it.