Easiest Way to Launch and Load a Boat by Yourself [Video Tutorial]

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One of the most difficult parts about a solo fishing trip can be the part where you launch and load your boat by yourself.

This is a process that can be very frustrating when not done properly. And it can cause a lot of unnecessary stress given that there are often other anglers waiting for you to get finished so that they can launch.

After owning a boat for many years while having a huge fishing addiction causing me to still take the boat out regardless if friends are joining me or not, I have learned some tips that makes launching and loading a boat in the water by yourself much easier.

So I wanted to put this article together to highlight some of the more important tips that I wish I had learned sooner.

And if you have any that I did not mention, please do not hesitate to let us know in the Comments section at the bottom.

How to Launch a Boat by Yourself 

launch your boat by yourself

I put together a list of the top tips you need to know to launch your boat by yourself, which are:

1. Attach a Long Rope to the Front of Your Boat

Besides the boat, the trailer and your car, this rope may be the most important piece of equipment to have when launching your boat by yourself.

When I launch my boat alone, I tie two long ropes together and attach one end to the front of my boat and the other end to a cleat inside my truck bed. I make sure the rope is long enough to allow my boat to come off the trailer completely.

rope to launch your boat

When the boat floats completely off the trailer, I untie the rope from my truckbed cleat and use it to corral the boat to where I need to.

I can then use that single rope to tie off the back and front of the boat to the dock and go park my truck.

2. Have All Your Gear Ready Before Launching Your Boat

This a rule of thumb for launching your boat by yourself or with the help of someone else. You want to have all your gear ready and loaded before backing your boat down the ramp.

Make sure the plug is in your boat, your fishing rods are loaded and that you have any tackle or other gear you need for your outing.

Launching at boat ramp.

This makes it so you’re ready as soon as you hit the ramp. It also makes sure you don’t block dock space running back and forth from your car to get your gear.

For more boat ramp etiquette tips, check out our guide on the top five boat ramp mistakes here.

3. Do a Hard Stop to Help Your Boat Slide Off the Trailer

A hard stop on the ramp can help your boat slide all the way off your trailer. It also makes sure you don’t have to climb up on your trailer to push the boat off into the water.

To do this, back your boat trailer down the ramp at a steady and controlled speed. Once your trailer has entered the water and you see the back of your boat begin to float, give your vehicle a hard press on the brakes to bring it an abrupt stop.

abrupt stop to launch your boat by yourself

The momentum from the stop will allow the boat to easily slide off the trailer all the way in the water.

After that, simply grab your boat rope and tie it off at the dock.

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How to Load a Boat by Yourself

load a boat alone

In order to fish on your boat by yourself, you not only need to know how to launch it but also how to load it.

In this section, I show you my top tips for loading your boat on the trailer by yourself — which are:

1. Tie the Boat Off at the Back of the Dock and Back Your Trailer Straight Down the Middle of the Ramp

Tying your boat near the end of the dock will allow others to use the boat ramp while you get your car and trailer.

Once you’re in your vehicle, make sure you back the trailer straight down the middle of the ramp and enough to get the front of the boat all the way up to the winch on the trailer.

Click here to see how to back up a boat trailer like a boss.

2. Get on Your Boat, Untie the Rope and Give a Small Shove Off the Dock

Once you have your trailer in the water, it’s time to get ready to drive the boat onto the trailer.

To do this, jump on your boat, untie the back corner of it from the dock and get your rope in the boat. Make sure you hold your boat to the dock with your hands while you do this.

load your boat by yourself

Once the rope is untied from the dock, give a slight shove off the dock to get your boat safely away from it.

At this point, you should be ready to load your boat on the trailer.

3. Drive the Boat Up the Trailer and Attach it to the Trailer Winch

Once you are free from the dock and have shoved the boat away from it, you want to slowly and steadily drive the boat up the trailer until the front is close enough to attach the winch to it.

After the boat is on the trailer and is not going to float away, jump down from the boat. Attach it to the winch and crank it up until the front of the boat is in place at the bow stop.

launch boat winch

This ensures the boat will stay in place on the trailer all the way up the ramp.

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Launch and Load Tip: Always Wash Your Lug Nuts

launch lug nuts

Saltwater can do a number to your trailer in a hurry and make it hard to keep up the maintenance on it if parts get too rusty.

One of the most important parts of the trailer to keep in good condition are the lug nuts that hold wheels on the trailer axle.

After launching and loading your boat on the trailer at the ramp, always try to get freshwater on your lug nuts and rims as quickly as possible.

This ensures that the lug nuts do not develop rust and makes it easier for you when you need to unscrew those nuts to change a tire or something like that.

How to Launch and Load a Boat by Yourself Video Tutorial

In this video, I show you the entire process on how to launch and load your boat by yourself:

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Conclusion

launch a boat by yourself

The techniques used in this video are proven ways to launch and load your boat easily and efficiently by yourself.

While these techniques are not the only way you can get it done, they work and make sure you do it in a practical and safe manner.

If you have any questions about how to launch and load a boat by yourself or see any ways we can improve how we do it, let us know in the comments.

Don’t forget to check out our guide to boat ramp etiquette as well by clicking here.

Tight Lines!

Related Posts:

1. Boat Ramp Mistakes: Top 5 Blunders That Cause Fights [VIDEO]

2. How To Back A Boat Trailer Down The Ramp Like A BOSS (VIDEO)

3. How Not To Launch A Boat [EPIC FAIL]

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Mike
Mike
4 months ago

Mooring Hitch Knot – thank you.

https://www.101knots.com/mooring-hitch.html

Mike
Mike
4 months ago

Could you please have one of you knot buddies find out the name of your knot? I’ve looked through my book and did not find it. Nice video although not nimble enough to climb down on the trailer. Still thinking about that. Wish you show the technique with a pontoon.

David Sheckler
Member
David Sheckler
4 months ago

I have the exact same trailer. Two questions. Are all boat master winch posts loose like that? Mine is and no real way to tighten it up. Is there a reason for that? Also, do you like your guide ons? I only have poles and find it difficult in current and or wind. The poles don’t seem to cut it too well. My last boat had centering bunks the entire length and it was like bumper bowling, very hard to not get it on the trailer nice and centered. Nice video!

Blue
Blue
5 months ago

Just came across your video. Sorry for a late 2¢.
I use a very similar method as you. Two additional adds to your informative video.
1. I dry start my motor for a few seconds at the house and shut it down. That way I know that she is ready to fire once in the water.
2. Look into “Fluid Film “ preventive lube that was developed in the 40’s.Water beads off dry when you pull your trailer out. One application lasts for a long time on lug nuts and all other bolts on your trailer.
Just don’t get it on synthetic fiber shorts. It will eat a hole in minutes

Andrew Sandoval
Member
Andrew Sandoval
6 months ago

If you can, you should rinse off the backside of the lug nuts too. When I got my new (to me) bay boat last April, I decided to switch to aluminum wheels. When I did so, I couldn’t get one of them off because one of the lug nuts had rusted on the backside to the point where it would just spin in the hub. This was on a “maintenance free ‘Vault’ Hub. (They don’t cover that in their warranty — or at least they wouldn’t for me.) I ended up replacing that entire hub only to have it fail 9 months later on the highway, spraying grease all over the boat… I added an axle – so now I have 4 Vault hubs, but despite how they seal those up to make them maintenance free, you need to be sure to get the saltwater off of the lug nuts on both sides — even if the only options are to do so right after launching, and then at a car wash after loading. Or maybe getting in there with Corrosion X on hands and knees.

Another mistake I’ve learned from with failed bearings… If you drive a long distance to the ramp (3 hours for me to the coast), you should probably take a good, long break before you back into the water. The wheels/bearings/etc. get very warm and when you douse them with relatively cool saltwater the seals don’t always hold up.

I added the 2nd axle to my trailer, because the last failed bearings (not even on a fishing trip, but on the way back from the shop) stranded me for 11 hours and it cost me $600 to have someone come out in a rainstorm to cut off the piece of stuck bearing so that I can put a new hub on and get home. I expect the 2nd axle means I don’t get stranded, but I still need to find or make a tool that will ensure I can remove stuck bearing pieces if that ever happens again!

Fay Walker
Member
Fay Walker
7 months ago

Hi-thanks for the solo boat launch tip! what is the model/make of your boat? It seems to be the perfect size for a solo fishing trip where i will need to launch on my own. . thanks! Fay

Judi
Judi
1 year ago

Can you show the easiest way to get boat on a lift?

Carol
Carol
1 year ago

Great post, thanks for sharing. Have you ever had any issues with the hard stop to get the boat off the trailer? I imagine it takes a little practice to get it right. We use a Pivyt Post coupled with an electric winch to launch and haul single-handed. Would be interested to have you check it out and let us know your thoughts!

Larry Elkins
Member
Larry Elkins
2 years ago

Great video, I have never gone by myself. I will go to the lake tomorrow and do some practicing. Thanks again!!!!

Steven Free
Member
Steven Free
2 years ago

Yea like its amazing at how many anglers there are out there that don’t think before they launch or even after they are done fishing I have never once had a problem launching my boat and I have always done it by myself I first make sure all the necessities are done first like making sure the drain plug is in the keys are in the ignition the tie straps are off then I take the winch strap off the bow and attach about a 25 ft rope to the bow then on my truck slowly back down and the boat slides off the trailer after which I pull it in by the rope get in and drive it to the dock where I tie it off motor still running then I park and spray a little trailer bunk lube spray which helps in launching and loading then after fishing I flush the motor with fresh water then wash the boat and tackle then after boat washing when the engine has cooloed I take the cowling off and rinse the inside of the motor with a fine mist of fresh water then when I get home I spray the inside with some wd-40 lube and all the steel and electrical components so yes Luke I take care of my boat and equipment like any good responsible angler should and yes don’t forget the trailer again its amazing at how many anglers totally forget about there trailers kind of stupid if you think about it considering your expensive boat is being carried by it anyways you get the picture thanks for the info and as usual all you do????

Michael Collins
Member
Michael Collins
2 years ago

Not sure if you have seen this: Flex Step by Keel Guard. When loading alone sure is nice to have a step out of the boat that is not a long reach. Good for us old guys that don’t want to get wet.

https://www.hodgesmarine.com/Megaware-Flexstep-Reg-Pro-Package-Aluminum-p/mgw80011.htm

Tony Ricci
Member
Tony Ricci
2 years ago

Hey, quick tip. Instead of the long rope technique, simply loosen a few inches of bow strap. With the boat still attached to the trailer bow strap, and a few inches of slack in the strap but not enough to cause a hazard, back the boat in until it floats. Then get in the boat, start it, and then drive it off and then tie it off. This way if the engine doesn’t start or you have engine problems, you’ll find out when the boat is still on the trailer rather than at the dock. It’s much easier to get the boat on the trailer again by simply ratcheting the bow strap back tight rather than trying to move an inoperable boat back up the ramp and on the trailer. Plus this method is faster as the rope method I like to call the “ex wife method”, because usually you see wives holding the rope and usually there is an arguement when the husband comes back down the ramp and finds the boat jackknifed at the dock. Here in Crystal River we don’t have nice docks like you guys down in Tampa. The rope method doesn’t work well here. Try out my method. You’ll find it easier and less of a headache when stuff breaks. Anytime I see the rope method used and i am behind that person i just shake my head and wait for the jackknife boat to clog up the works haha

Mike
Mike
4 months ago
Reply to  Tony Ricci

My only problem is my boat is a pontoon and after it floats I am no longer nimble enough to get in the boat from the trailer.

Anonymous
Anonymous
2 years ago

Great video! Very helpful. Another one on docking and take out in a stiff wind?!

Joel Johnston
Member
Joel Johnston
2 years ago

Vaseline or grease on the lug nuts keeps them free for that “special time” when you need to remove them.

James Gordon Stallings
Member
James Gordon Stallings
2 years ago

I appreciate the tips and time taken to make this video for us. Another option I’ve seen is having a loop on the truck-end of the the launch rope. The loop is placed over the winch post with the other end tied to the boat. Once the boat is launched, you just lift the loop off the winch post for a very fast retrieve without untying a knot (though your slip knot is fast and more secure).

Jack Noor
Member
Jack Noor
2 years ago

Luke, great points. I fish mostly by myself and have used the ropes many times. Because I fish both freshwater and saltwater though I forget to wash the lug nuts, that’s a great tip.
Thanks

James Wilkinson
Member
James Wilkinson
2 years ago

Grievance. Really. Come on Luke.

Anonymous
Anonymous
2 years ago

I tie a rope to the bow and i also tie a rope to the stern cleat. That way, I can control both the back of the boat and the front of the boat.

Mike
Mike
4 months ago
Reply to  Anonymous

????

Norman Black
Member
Norman Black
2 years ago

????

David Atkins
Member
David Atkins
2 years ago

Luke, I use the same type of bottle but I punch a hole in the top (center) and by just squeezing the bottle I can spray off the wheels with a stronger spray stream which works way better than just pouring the water over as you showed; otherwise another great video packed full of terrific information…

Dave Otte
Member
Dave Otte
2 years ago

That’s Luke! I will pick up my boat this week. This is my first ever boat and I sincerely appreciate you taking the time to help us! This was very helpful information.

Terence Buydos
Member
Terence Buydos
2 years ago

1. when launching, just tie your bow line to the winch post, and as soon as the boat floats off ease the truck forward to get the some of the trailer(hopefully the axles) out of the water. easier than cleating off inside the truck bed
2. I’m too old and stiff and the bow too high to climb off the bow and down onto the trailer when loading, so i position the trailer near enough to the dock that i can step off the boat onto it, run the boat pretty far up onto the trailer and hook my pre-set winch strap on. It helps to remember to leave the winch in the wind on setting so you boat doesn’t casually unwind the strap and drift off the guides.

Anonymous
Anonymous
2 years ago

Good job that was helpful

Don Altman
Member
Don Altman
2 years ago

Can’t believe I gave Joe the credit on this one……sorry Luke!!!

Don Altman
Member
Don Altman
2 years ago

Thanks Joe! Really timely video, I’m about 1 month away from purchasing my own flats boat and will be fishing solo a good bit. Tight lines!!!

Roy Beatty
Member
Roy Beatty
2 years ago
Reply to  Don Altman

Luke,
A word of caution, especially for the new boaters, if you trailer has rollers instead of carpet covered bunks, Do Not unhook the bow hook in the flat stage area, your boat will be on the ramp as soon as gravity takes hold. Make sure your boat is floating in the water then unhook and a gentle push your boat will clear the trailer.

STOP WASTING TIME ON THE WATER!

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  • Weekly “spot dissection” videos that walk you through all the best spots in your area
  • Exclusive fishing tips from the PROS you can’t find anywhere else
  • Everything you need to start catching fish more consistently (regardless if you fish out of a boat, kayak, or land).

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