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#11548678 - 04/17/16 04:13 PM Any advice for first time boater????
Uglystik34 Offline

Registered: 04/17/13
Posts: 54
Just wanted to see if anyone had any tips for a first time boat owner. Such as what to check on the first day, how to not scratch up the boat on the dock. Drive of trailer or float off??

Edited by Uglystik34 (04/17/16 04:38 PM)

#11548826 - 04/17/16 05:32 PM Re: Any advice for first time boater???? [Re: Uglystik34]
Bobby Milam Online   content
TFF Team Angler

Registered: 07/13/14
Posts: 3371
Loc: Arlington
My boat is going into the stumps so I don't worry about scratches but if I did, I'd pay attention to wind direction and get a bumper to hang. If 2 man, drive off. If solo, I connect a rope then float it off and pull back to shore. Take your time getting the feel for the boat. Each boat is a little different

#11548852 - 04/17/16 05:51 PM Re: Any advice for first time boater???? [Re: Uglystik34]
Uglystik34 Offline

Registered: 04/17/13
Posts: 54
Thanks man good tips! Keep Em coming
i fish, not cause i want to... because i love to...
Catch fish, catch a passion.

#11548890 - 04/17/16 06:14 PM Re: Any advice for first time boater???? [Re: Uglystik34]
Tallgrass05 Online   content
bill maher's protege

Registered: 03/02/05
Posts: 42231
Loc: Kansas
Make a checklist of things you need before driving off and heading to the water.
Boat plug, PFDs, spare boat key, tackle, anchor, etc.
After awhile the items will be second nature.

#11548950 - 04/17/16 06:47 PM Re: Any advice for first time boater???? [Re: Uglystik34]
Bob Landry Offline
Extreme Angler

Registered: 08/10/11
Posts: 2762
Loc: Austin, Tx
You need the equipment specified by the Texas Boating Safety Act and your fishing tackle. Go out and use the boat and see what you actually do need before spending a chunk of money on useless stuff.
2015 Seaark 1872 MV CC Etec-90
Two Helix 12 CHIRP SI's, , MinnKota Riptide ST80/i-pilot Link, Bob's Hydraulic
2018 Robalo R180 CC, Yamaha 115

Bitter Gun Owner
Bitter Clinger
Armed Infidel

#11548991 - 04/17/16 07:16 PM Re: Any advice for first time boater???? [Re: Uglystik34]
fitter2259 Offline
TFF Celebrity

Registered: 12/29/11
Posts: 6127
Loc: Humble, Texas
If you are a 1st time boater go online and take a boaters safety course. Most are free and you can learn a lot of useful information.

#11562585 - 04/24/16 05:19 PM Re: Any advice for first time boater???? [Re: Uglystik34]
Capt Craig Online   content
Extreme Angler

Registered: 08/25/09
Posts: 1597
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 (

#11566766 - 04/26/16 01:37 PM Re: Any advice for first time boater???? [Re: Uglystik34]
TxRanger1 Offline

Registered: 12/31/15
Posts: 326
Loc: Humble,Tx
I have owned a boat on and off since 1972. I still forget things from time to time. The last time that I launched and forgot to do something was that I left the key in truck. Don't forget to make sure the key is in the ignition or your pocket. Don't worry about the plug man, you are going to forget at least once. Then you will remember to check it every time.

#11567820 - 04/26/16 08:53 PM Re: Any advice for first time boater???? [Re: Uglystik34]
psycho0819 Offline
Extreme Angler

Registered: 03/27/05
Posts: 1551
Loc: Kaufman
I agree with everything posted above. My advice is don't let it be an overwhelming task. Make a mental list of the basic stuff you'll do every time you go to the lake. Walk around your boat at home and look at where all these items are. Maybe even do a dry run or two readying your rig for launch, then making it road ready again. For those of us that have been doing it for a long time and are familiar with our rigs, the whole process is more habit than effort. You'll get that way too. I don't like anyone to help me with anything but maybe backing the truck in and driving it out, and then only if I am confident in their abilities. I fish alone quite a bit, and have a system that works where nothing gets missed when readying the boat for launch.

When actually launching or loading, do not let a crowded ramp make you rush or change your habits, that's when mistakes happen. Be deliberate and efficient.

Fenders are good to have when tying to a dock. I don't carry them because storage is limited on my rig. I'd venture to say most fishing rigs don't carry them. Watch the wind and try to get your boat situated so it blows away from the dock on the line, no fenders needed. In a pinch, your throwable flotation device can double as a fender, and so can a PFD. I usually beach mine if there's a patch of decent ground available, then use my anchor to make sure it doesn't drift away, or a line tied to something that might be close enough.

The main thing to do in order to look like a pro, is slow down, examine what you're dealing with, and come up with a plan before you are actually dealing with it. I see most major screw-ups made when people just pull up to a dock or ramp and don't have their caca consolidated.
If you're not living on the edge, you're taking up too much space!

#11568372 - 04/27/16 07:29 AM Re: Any advice for first time boater???? [Re: Uglystik34]
TxRanger1 Offline

Registered: 12/31/15
Posts: 326
Loc: Humble,Tx
One more thing, many times I go by myself and like psycho said, don't let anyone rush you. I also invested in a Boat 2 Trailer hook up on my trailer. This thing is worth every cent I paid for it whether you go alone or have help. Makes launching and loading a breeze.

#11568420 - 04/27/16 07:57 AM Re: Any advice for first time boater???? [Re: Uglystik34]
Muzzlebrake Offline
Extreme Angler

Registered: 12/26/14
Posts: 1664
Loc: Euless
If you have a safety strap under the trailer wench that hooks to the bow ring don't forget to unhook it and be sure to use the parking brake on your tow vehicle while on the ramp. I think you can visualize the rest of what might happen.
From Genesis: "And God promised men that good and obedient wives would be found in all corners of the earth."

Then He made the earth round...and He laughed and laughed and laughed!

#11568427 - 04/27/16 08:00 AM Re: Any advice for first time boater???? [Re: Uglystik34]
BODA Offline

Registered: 06/10/14
Posts: 330
Loc: Eagle Mountain Lake
wait till you put some hours on the boat before bringing beer, for you or passengers.

#11576445 - 05/01/16 10:59 AM Re: Any advice for first time boater???? [Re: Uglystik34]
plasma800 Offline

Registered: 10/13/14
Posts: 431
Loc: Montgomery Texas
that boat to trailer thing is pretty dang cool looking! I launch and load a lot solo.

#11578847 - 05/02/16 04:02 PM Re: Any advice for first time boater???? [Re: TxRanger1]
crapicat Offline
TFF Celebrity

Registered: 01/23/13
Posts: 6482
Loc: Grandview, TX
Originally Posted By: TxRanger1
I have owned a boat on and off since 1972. I still forget things from time to time. The last time that I launched and forgot to do something was that I left the key in truck. Don't forget to make sure the key is in the ignition or your pocket. Don't worry about the plug man, you are going to forget at least once. Then you will remember to check it every time.

Ahhh, the's the deal...everyone has forgot this least once!

If you notice the plug is missing while still on the trailer, have the person pull the boat out the water after you secure the winch line, drain the water and install the plug. If you discover the back end of your boat is dropping after launch...DO NOT PANIC...start the motor, get the boat up on plane across the lake and most of the water will drain out...slow down some and install the plug (as fast as possible) then turn your bilge on and get as much water out as you can....then go about picking up your boat buddy, fishing, etc.

IF you are in the lake, with the trailer pulled off AND the motor won't start/run...put the plug in ASAP, turn the bilge on...get high speed going on the troller and beach the boat until you drain the boat. Here is a tip, I learned the hard way...BEFORE the first boat trip of every year, check to make sure the bilge pump is working and will flow water through the pipes...sometimes dirt dobber nests or spiders will block lines so that while the motor spins, it will not pump water out of the boat.

Also, while at the ramp, fire the motor up for a couple seconds (some folks will caution against this action but it has saved my arse many times over the years) just to ensure it will start when you are in the water and save a lot of time trying to deal with a motor issue at the ramp.

While on the water, every time you fire the motor up, check to make sure that water is flowing from the water pump (that little stream of water coming out of the motor) may take a few seconds for it to start flowing...if not, shut the motor off. Keep a piece of heavy .120 trimmer line 18 inches long handy and poke it in the hole, to hopefully dislodge whatever may be obstructing the water flow. Also, lift up the motor and check to ensure a plastic bag or something is not sucked around the water pump intake (finned area in front of the propeller) and try it again...If no water comes out after 20 seconds or so, shut the motor off and troll back to the ramp...then take it in for service, because the water pump (impeller) has a problem. Don't run the motor without that stream flowing or you will burn up the motor and that gets expensive real fast.

If you will be unloading a boat by yourself...go to the store a buy a "launch line" that is 6 ft longer than your boat....very handy...I never leave home without one on the boat.

Good luck and safe boating...Oh Yea, know where your fire extinguisher is at all times (close to your fishing seat as possible!). Make sure it is GOOD, not expired....and make sure there is an EXTRA Life Vest on board, just in case you have to provide one or give someone a ride who is having problems on the water.

#11578917 - 05/02/16 04:26 PM Re: Any advice for first time boater???? [Re: Uglystik34]
Cast Online   content
TFF Celebrity

Registered: 07/31/12
Posts: 8290
Loc: North Texas - God's Country
Don't do it? Two happiest days...

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