How to Launch a Pontoon Boat the Right Way
Launching a boat is something every boater needs to do in order to enjoy a day on the water. As such, everyone owes it to everyone else to know how to do it right and do it quickly. Every second spent dawdling at the launching ramp not only cuts into your day, but into everyone else’s day as well.
Once you get to the launching ramp, it’s too late to cram for your real-life test. By preparing in advance and knowing what to do when, you’ll be able to efficiently launch your boat free of angry horns and shouts from other boaters.
Before you Reach the Launching Ramp
Prepare your boat before you approach the ramp. This ensures when it’s your turn, you’re ready to go without any delay.
- Load your safety equipment, mooring lines, and other gear into the boat.
- Unhook and stow the transom straps.
- Disconnect any incandescent light-bulb plugs.
- Gather your mooring line and fenders, making them ready to use.
- Make sure your drain plug, if your boat has one, is in place.
While On the Launching Ramp
You’ve waited your turn, and ideally everyone in front of you followed all the same steps you’re following, continuing a friendly and efficient day of boat launching. Now, prepare yourself to get your boat into the water.
- Get a spotter. Move all kids and onlookers from the ramp area and put a spotter out there. Launching is easier with one person driving and another directing.
- Situate your vehicle and boat. Line up your vehicle and trailer as straight as possible, about the length of a trailer away from the water.
- Back into the water. Slowly back your trailer down the ramp, only making small, fine-tuned steers. If you need to straighten the trailer, driving forward a bit can be a big help. When the stern begins floating in the water, stop.
- Secure your vehicle. Set the parking brake. If you have an excessively large boat, chock the wheels on your vehicle.
Getting In the Water
At this point, you’re ready to get your boat off the trailer and into the water.
- Unhook the boat. Disconnect the winch strap and safety chain from the trailer. Next, back the boat away from the trailer. When the water is just above the wheels of the trailer, you’re ready for the next step.
- Launch the boat. Start your boat’s engine. Important: make sure the engine is in the water before you crank it. Shift into reverse and gently back up. All Manitou boats have to be powered with the engine into the water off the trailer—you can’t float it back by hand. If, after applying gentle power, your boat doesn’t move, you probably need to back up farther.
Securing the Boat
Now that you’re in the water, tie your mooring lines to the dock. Make sure all your passengers and supplies are nearby and ready to board. By getting everyone and everything on the boat quickly, you show courtesy to other boaters and help keep the launching ramp free of holdups.
While your other passengers are boarding, park your vehicle nearby and make your way back to the boat without delay. Join your family and friends on the boat, untie the mooring lines and off you go.