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#10943568 - 06/27/15 12:43 PM New boat is hard to re-trailer
tallnhairy Offline

Registered: 02/19/11
Posts: 323
Loc: Abilene, Tx.
I just bought an old 20' '84 Ranger 395v that sits on an Oklahoma trailer. It tows great, but the trailer is very low and the crossmember and jack drag going over the edge of the ramp.

The main thing is, it's a bear to reload the boat, involving getting close to the front v-block with the trailer pulled forward to get the nose of the boat up over the block, strapping it, backing the trailer further in until the boat floats, then using the winch to pull it all the way on to the trailer. Once all that is done, you have to hold the boat centered between the bunks while pulling it out so it doesn't float off to one side or the other.

I think the problem is, the axles are at the very back of the trailer, which is fine for very shallow-angle ramps, but the one's I've tried so far have been a real pain. I'm going to switch the v-block for a roller and put a set of guides on the trailer, but I'm just curious if anyone else has had this problem and how you cured it.

#10944026 - 06/27/15 06:26 PM Re: New boat is hard to re-trailer [Re: tallnhairy]
FMJshooter Offline
Extreme Angler

Registered: 06/24/08
Posts: 1390
Loc: Belton, TX
What are you towing it with and what kind of hitch. Sounds like the trailer is pitched down in the front?

Also making the bunks slick may help get it loaded easier either with the pads you can buy or lubing the carpet with something like dish soap. Backing the trailer all the way in then pulling up to get the bunks wet can help too.

Edited by FMJshooter (06/27/15 06:41 PM)

#10944201 - 06/27/15 08:57 PM Re: New boat is hard to re-trailer [Re: tallnhairy]
Retired Fisherman Offline
Pro Angler

Registered: 08/03/09
Posts: 599
Loc: Hurst, Tx
There can be lot of variables on re-trailering. Backing the trailer in till the bunk boards are completely wet, then pulling back out till about 2/3 of the bunk boards are out of the water works best for my boat. I generally tilt the motor up a few degrees to give more clearance between the prop and ramp if using power to push the boat all the way on.

#10946747 - 06/29/15 12:26 PM Re: New boat is hard to re-trailer [Re: tallnhairy]
Stump jumper Offline
TFF Celebrity

Registered: 04/19/04
Posts: 7623
Loc: Rockwall
I have almost the same set up but I have a 86 375V on a Oklahoma trailer. Make sure you are not getting too deep. Mine is perfect when the top of fender is just above water and there is about .5' - 1' of longest bunks showing. Too deep and the boat wants to nosedive under the bow stop. I have had to train many fishing partners to get it right. You might try marking your fender is you fish alone a lot. It is easy to have the driver back down a little further to make winching easier. Ramps are different but the ones you use a lot you will figure out the sweet spot to back the trailer in.

#10947248 - 06/29/15 03:58 PM Re: New boat is hard to re-trailer [Re: tallnhairy]
03svtsnakevert Offline
Extreme Angler

Registered: 04/05/12
Posts: 2529
Loc: Copperas Cove, TX
when you back it down, keep an eye on the where the trailer is when the boat starts to begin to float...also keep the bow winch on it, just back it off a bit...wherever it starts to float just back it down about 3-5 inches short of that (meaning not as far as when you backed it down and it began to float) and that should put you in the ball park...keep in mind, those bunks are designed to position the boat on the trailer and lift the bow enough to clear the roller

#10947260 - 06/29/15 04:03 PM Re: New boat is hard to re-trailer [Re: tallnhairy]
Capt Craig Offline
Extreme Angler

Registered: 08/25/09
Posts: 1431
Loc: Richland-Chambers
Trailer Position When Launching and Loading Your Boat

Boating is an exciting activity, but sometimes launching and loading the boat from a trailer can take away that excitement. Most new boaters learn quickly to launch the boat with little effort, but loading it can sometimes be difficult or nearly impossible, especially if being done alone.

Eventually everyone develops a system for launching and loading, but there is one common error that often goes unnoticed that makes loading particularly more difficult than it has to be. Correcting this can significantly change the boating experience making it more enjoyable for everyone.

Common courtesy dictates that before it's your turn on the ramp, all your gear should already be aboard your boat. Others will not appreciate you taking up valuable time and space on the ramp to load rods, tackle, coolers and such. You should also have the plug(s) in the boat, the battery switch on, the motor up and any transom saver or motor support removed, and the transom tie down straps off the trailer. Must people also remove the safety/tow chain, but you should always leave the winch strap attached until you are ready to back the boat off the trailer.

Once it is your turn, back down the ramp and stop just before the boat gets to the water. Release the winch strap to give you about 1' of slack in the winch strap and then LOCK THE WINCH BACK. Do not completely unhook the winch strap at this time. Also do a quick look around again to make sure you haven't missed anything important.

Now you can back into the water and watch to see the boat float. You know when the boat rises that the trailer is deep enough and that you can launch off the trailer with very little reverse thrust from the engine. Having the slack in the winch strap prevents excessive pressure on the bow ring and fiberglass caused by the stern of the boat trying to float while the bow is tightly winched.

At this depth the waterline on the fenders of the trailer marks the depth for launching or its float depth. After putting your vehicle in park and engaging the emergency brake, turn off the engine and take the keys with you. Carefully climb into the boat, start the engine and unhook the winch strap and then back off the trailer and drive to the courtesy dock and tie up. Depending on the individual preferences, some prefer to unhook the winch strap as they climb into the boat and then start the engine and back off the trailer.

This is when the error is made. When getting ready to remove the trailer from the water and park the vehicle, new boaters forget to observe the waterline on the trailer's fenders. This information is key to loading the boat later. After a great day of boating, the trailer is backed into the water and the frustration soon starts. New boaters attempt to back the trailer to the same depth or deeper into the water to load the boat than when they launched. While it may seem like the right thing to do, it is often the cause of all your frustration. When the trailer is backed deeper than when launched, the boat is unable to drive onto the trailer, instead it drives into the trailer. The boat is floating above the trailer and therefore the bow of the boat runs into the winch post and often the bow of the boat will be under the roller instead of above it where it should be. This is when the struggle occurs. The boater then attempts to winch the floating boat on the trailer and may be forced to attempt to physically lift the bow of the boat above the roller while somehow still winching it into place. During all this the stern of the boat either drifts into the trailer's fenders or in some cases may actually wash onto or over the trailers fender potentially causing damage to both the boat and the trailer. Often because of the depth of the trailer, the boater is left standing in the water battling a floating boat and completely unable to direct the movement of the stern. There is little to no way to direct the stern of the boat due to the depth of the water. Unfortunately this same scenarios plays out all too often at boat ramps across the country. To the trained eye, it is easy to tell if the trailer is too deep when the boat moves with the water instead of being supported by the trailer. Once the boat is muscled into place and winched on, the boater makes a hurried attempt to pull the vehicle forward hoping that the boat will center and sit correctly between the fenders. Often the boat is significantly crooked and tilted forcing the boater to back all the way into the water and float the boat and then try once more to center the boat and exit the water at just the correct position.

The secret to successful quicker and easier loading of the boat requires the trailer to be less deep than when launched. How much less is based on the design, length, and weight of the individual boat. Generally it can be accomplished by having the fender's waterline at launch about 3-4" more out of the water at loading. The only way to determine this point of reference is to know where the waterline was when you launched. An easy method for determining this point is duct tape or a less sticky solution painter's tape. Once you have backed the boat in and achieved the amount of float you want in order to launch, put a piece of tape on the driver's side trailer fender or both fenders if you choose. This will help you to find that spot again when loading.

Assume you launched your boat and then tried load right back on, what happens, the boat is floating too freely, which is why putting the trailers even deeper never works and you get all the stern drift against the fenders and the potential wash over and you never touch the bunks which are designed to guide and lift the bow of the boat and direct the hull while loading. When loading, with the trailer slightly more out of the water (the specific distance has to be discovered through trial and error) than when launching, the boat will want to follow the center bunks and it will raise the bow of the boat and center it as the boat enters the trailer.

After a wonderful day of the lake, it is time to load the boat on the trailer. Now when you back the trailer into the water, the waterline of the tape's edge should be 3" out of the water to start. Once again, you will put your vehicle in park, engage the emergency brake, turn off the engine and take your keys out of your vehicle.

Trim the motor up, but keep the water intake and prop under the surface of the water for safety and to maintain steering control. Having the motor trimmed up will provide a small amount of lift to the bow assisting the wet hull in reducing the friction between the boat and the bunks. Having the motor trimmed up also helps to avoid dragging the skeg or having the prop strike any debris that may be on the ramp, especially if the water level is low. Remember it is common for some marinas dump large rocks at the end of the concrete ramp to prevent trailers from falling off the end of the ramp. As you approach the trailer in your boat, center the boat and drive on it slowly at idle speed. The center bunks should align the hull and lift it. Straighten your engine and apply enough throttle to drive the boat to the winch post. Ideally should not need to maintain engine thrust once you reach the winch post. You should be able to turn the engine off and the boat will rest on the center bunks and not slide back into the water.

With the trailer slightly more out of the water now than at launch the boat's centerline or v-hull should "lock in" or at least sit directly on and between the center bunks instead for floating above them and the boat is directed toward the roller. Since the trailer is more shallow the boat wants to balance on all the bunks and not rock side to side. This also reduces the risk of the stern bumping the fender boards or trying to hop on top of the fender. Your boat is now being supported by the bunks and should sit in a position similar to when your boat rests on the trailer on a flat surface like in your driveway. Once the boat is loaded the bow ring should line up nearly perfectly and you will not have to struggle lifting the bow into position.

Lake level has very little to do with the depth of the trailer when loading the boat. Obviously low water presents potential hazards at the ramp such as debris, but not the trailer/boat position when loading. The angle of the ramp and balance of the boat are key.

Let's assume your boat floats in 12" of water. If you have more than 12" of water near the front of your trailer, the boat will float above it instead of being on it. Therefore we need 12" of water above only part of the trailer, but definitely not all of it. It might be 12" halfway between the front and back of the trailer or it could be only 40% from the rear of the trailer. That location can best be determined by knowing the waterline on the trailer's fender when the trailer is deep enough that the boat can be launched. Therefore, the depth that the boat rests on the bunks of the trailer must be less than the point that it floats.

With all this in mind, now you should be able to load your boat more easily and more quickly with a lot less effort making your day on the water more enjoyable. Always remember to hook the winch to the boat's bow ring and tighten firmly. Never pull out of the water without the winch attached.
Capt. Craig Copeland
Licensed by the US Coast Guard

2013 Nautic Star 2110 Shallow Bay Boat
Nautic Star Boats Pro Staff (
Redneck Fish'n Jigs Pro Staff (

#10947339 - 06/29/15 04:44 PM Re: New boat is hard to re-trailer [Re: tallnhairy]
EPIC Steve Offline

Registered: 02/06/15
Posts: 124
Loc: Seagoville, TX
I have the same problem. I have a EPIC CC with a not some EZ Load trailer. When unloading back of boat is floating and bow is hangs on roller. When loading fenders even with water so boat lines up on bunks the bow is about 10 inches under roller. I have to back out till water is over spare tire bunks do not help have to use guides to keep boat on trailer. Do I need to adjust roller. Sarry to jump on your post. Boat not loading takes the fun out of a great day of fishing lol ( FYI I did not get an A in spelling)

#10948211 - 06/30/15 03:59 AM Re: New boat is hard to re-trailer [Re: tallnhairy]
stick steering Offline
TFF Team Angler

Registered: 08/06/07
Posts: 4591
Sounds like the wrong hitch and springs sag over time ,get the right hitch and replace the leaf springs

#10948247 - 06/30/15 05:52 AM Re: New boat is hard to re-trailer [Re: tallnhairy]
Allison1 Online   sleepy
TFF Guru

Registered: 12/14/03
Posts: 17995
Loc: Grand Prairie, Tx
You are probably just backing the trailer in too far.

You drive the boat on. Back the trailer till it covers the back tire completely. See if you can trailer it without trouble. If its not back far enough then adjust. The reason your nose is too low is because the boat isn't really sitting on the trailer bunks yet.

Notice in this video how far he backs the trailer. A bit too far. For that boat with a single axle back the trailer till the top of the tires are covered. No more.

When he get out to hook up you notice he has to push the front to the center. If you do it right the bunks center the boat and you should have to push it up the trailer a couple feet up to the nose.

#10948327 - 06/30/15 07:20 AM Re: New boat is hard to re-trailer [Re: tallnhairy]
Chris B Online   content
TFF Celebrity

Registered: 05/02/03
Posts: 7239
Loc: Prosper, TX
99% of the time people are just backing in too deep when the boat won't make it over the front roller. Back in less, trim the motor up and give it the gas.

I hate photobucket.

#10952593 - 07/02/15 12:06 AM Re: New boat is hard to re-trailer [Re: tallnhairy]
tallnhairy Offline

Registered: 02/19/11
Posts: 323
Loc: Abilene, Tx.
Thanks for the advice. I took it out to another lake this weekend and had no problems whatsoever reloading it, but the ramp is really shallow.

The truck is a stock '08 Z-71 with the receiver flipped over to put the ball as high as it will go. I'm going to machine some spacers to install between the springs and axles to hopefully cure the crossmember dragging, as it even drags on the gate track going into my shop. The funny thing is, everything looks fine.

I've never tried trailering it by myself other than last weekend at Ft. Phantom, so it ma be my buddy backing in too deep. The previous owner said to back it in until the water level was basically in the middle of the top of the fender, but the first time we tried that on the steeper ramp at Kirby, the bow was lower than the bow mount, so we tried backing it in further and it basically went FUBAR.
We will drag it to the lake this weekend and see how it goes.

Edited by tallnhairy (07/02/15 12:54 AM)

#10953451 - 07/02/15 12:48 PM Re: New boat is hard to re-trailer [Re: tallnhairy]
Stump jumper Offline
TFF Celebrity

Registered: 04/19/04
Posts: 7623
Loc: Rockwall
You say you flipped the ball mount over but is the trailer level or slightly high in the front?

#10954605 - 07/02/15 09:54 PM Re: New boat is hard to re-trailer [Re: tallnhairy]
tallnhairy Offline

Registered: 02/19/11
Posts: 323
Loc: Abilene, Tx.
Stump, it's a bit high in the front to get the trailer crossmember over my gate crossing and the lip of the ramp.

This is the best pic I have right now, but the front (at the ball) is probably 6" higher than the frame at the front axle.

#11026482 - 08/07/15 08:07 AM Re: New boat is hard to re-trailer [Re: tallnhairy]
Skeeter-Blue Offline

Registered: 12/31/09
Posts: 180
Loc: North Texas
Not all ramps have the perfect slope for your setup. When I back the boat in, I do it just enough that the stern begains to float. I take note where the water line is on the trailer. When you retrieve the boat use that waterline mark. Should work perfect. If it fails it normally fails high. The pitch of boat is also affected by weight in stern from fuel and people. If you fail short all you have to winch the last foot or so, or have someone stand near the stern to raise the bow a little. This beats smashing the bow under the front roller if you back it in too far or missing the bottom rollers.
Be very careful adding slick boards to the bunks, you boat can slip off the trailer on to the ramp if not winched tight.
95 Skeeter 150ZX w/ Merc XR6 150
Ocean Kayak Prowler 13
59 Yellow Jacket w/ Merc 50


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