Solo Launching a Big Boat

In the accompanying video, Capt. Terry Nugent of Riptide Charters demonstrates how he goes about launching a 33’ center console by himself. Nugent has launched and hauled his boat hundreds of times, at many different ramps, and has the process down to a science. Meanwhile, 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 tie up 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. Consider making a checklist.

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. Does the ramp have courtesy docks or floats? Are the docks equipped with cleats, rub rails and 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.