A new regular column with Andrew Flanagan from Powerboat Training NZ, this issue looks at the basics to cover off before setting out in your trailer boat.

Boat launching ramps can be chaotic at times, especially during periods of heavy use. Observing the comings and goings of trailer-boaters at any busy boat ramp on a holiday weekend reveals a plethora of mistakes, unsafe practices and poor ramp etiquette.

Most of them are the result of ignorance rather than bloodymindedness, but they can be potentially dangerous and/or seriously inconvenience other boaties. By following a few simple steps we can avoid problems and minimise unpleasant exchanges between boat ramp users.

Like so much else with boating, launching and retrieving a trailer boat quickly and efficiently is about proper preparation. With that in mind, the good folk at Powerboat Training NZ have produced a simple trailer boat launch and recovery checklist.

What follows is a good basic guide. However, all vessels are different, so don’t treat the list as definitive – it’s purely a guide offering some basic help. Nor does the guide mention safety equipment that should be carried onboard – that’s a subject for a future column.

Once the boat is hitched up and before pulling out onto the road, always check your boat, trailer and equipment thoroughly. Where possible do this in daylight, or in a well-lit area at least, so you are less likely to miss something.


Before hitting the road, ensure:
• The engine is trimmed fully up
• The engine’s trailer lock is in position
• The flag is secured to the boat’s propeller
• The stern strop is tightly secured to trailer
• The safety chain connecting the boat and trailer is secured
• The trailer electrics are connected and trailer lights are working
• The trailer’s safety chain is connected to the vehicle
• That any antennas are lowered
• That all loose items in the boat are removed or secured

Don’t be one of those boaters who backs down the boat ramp and only then prepares the boat for launching. Always prepare the boat away from the launch site so that other boaties can use it while you work through your checklist.

Upon arriving at the launch site, always:
• Remove stern strop
• Remove the prop flag
• Remove the engine trailer lock
• Rig appropriate fenders and lines
• Raise antennas and/or navigation light poles
• Remove trailer light board if required
• Check hull for any road damage
• Allow 10 mins for wheel bearings to cool
• Only remove boat safety chain when the trailer is in the water

Recovering a trailer boat and getting ready for the road essentially reverses the procedure used to prepare it for launching. By following this simple checklist you can avoid embarrassing, expensive and potentially dangerous accidents when retrieving your trailer boat. As was the case when preparing to launch the boat, most of the actions on the checklist should be completed well clear of the boat ramp/launch site. That way you don’t obstruct other boat ramp users.

On the ramp:
• Raise the engine before pulling the trailer out of the water
• Ensure boat is level on the trailer
• Ensure the safety chain between boat and trailer is attached
• Ensure vehicle windows are down and radio off so you can hear any shouts
or the dreaded engine scrape indicating you have forgotten point 1.

Once on dry land, remove the bung
• Secure the flag to the engine propeller
• Attach the stern strop
• Check that the electrics are attached and the trailer lights working
• Lower antennas/lights
• Remove or secure any loose items
• Make sure the engine trailer lock is in position

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FOR MORE INFORMATION: www.powerboat-training.co.nz