Skip to main content Skip to main content

Launching Alone

Planning, preparation keys to solo success of getting boat in water quickly

Launching Alone
When launching solo, make sure your boat is fully prepared and your parking brake is engaged when stepping out of your tow vehicle. (David A. Brown photo)

OK, we've all taken great delight at watching the boat ramp mishaps, missteps and mess-ups that range from amusing to downright bizarre. A lot of the hair-raising calamity boils to preparation, rather the lack thereof. 

The show becomes particularly interesting when folks try to launch all by their lonesome, however, anglers in small to midsize vessels will do just fine if they master a simple, yet effective method for dropping in solo style.

For this lesson, I turned to veteran Tampa Bay guide, Capt. Richard Seward, who regularly launches his 24-foot Carolina skiff by himself at busy ramps where expedience is the necessary ingredient in the stew of mutual cooperation among fellow boaters. Seward broke down the process into simple steps borne of his sage experience.

* First step is always complete boat prep prior to approaching the ramp. Not such a big deal if you avoid the ramp's rush hour, but dilly dallying around while others wait in line is a certain path to dockside discord.



Click image for the step-by-step gallery



* Next, secure a rope to a bow cleat and connect the other end to your winch stand. Seward's experience tells him he needs a rope at least twice the length of his trailer. This ensures that his 24-foot Carolina skiff completely clears the trailer before coming tight on the rope.

* With rope boat and trailer tethered, start by backing down the trailer until the tires are about half submerged. 

* Stop your tow vehicle, get out and unhook the boat. 

* Return to your vehicle, back down a little further and tap the brakes so inertia pulls the boat off the trailer.




* Once the boat slides off, shift into park, apply the parking brake (NEVER proceed without this step) and step out to untie the rope from your winch stand and guide the boat to the nearest pier for a quick tie-off.

* This enables you to leave your boat secured while you clear the ramp and park your vehicle.

Tips and Considerations


Capt. Rick Grassett, of Sarasota uses the same solo launch method, but he splices a bungee cord into his bow line. He notes that the splicing is mostly for shallow water anchoring, but it also helps absorb the jolt when the boat comes tight. 

Remove the straps and confirm that the plug's in place before approaching the ramp, but keep the nose hooked to the trailer until you back the trailer into the water. Seward warns against unhitching the boat too soon, as he's seen folks accidentally dump their vessels well short of the waterline.

You'll also want to slide push poles all the way back to prevent catching the foot on trailer guide posts. Likewise, make sure rods, paddles, nets and anything else that could snag, snare or tangle is positioned so it does not.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

Popular Videos

Hobie Mirage Outback Kayak Walkthrough: True All-Around, Feature-Filled Fishing Platform

Hobie Mirage Outback Kayak Walkthrough: True All-Around, Feature-Filled Fishing Platform

n this video we explore the Hobie Mirage Outback which is an all-around fishing platform that excels both inshore and offshore is full of features, limiting your need for extra customizations.

Why Kayak Size Matters: What to Consider When Purchasing a Kayak

Why Kayak Size Matters: What to Consider When Purchasing a Kayak

In this video we discuss what you should consider when deciding what size kayak you should purchase. Things like how you will store and transport your kayak as well as where you will be fishing the most are all important considerations.

DIY Garage Bow Mechanic: List of Tools and How to Get Started

DIY Garage Bow Mechanic: List of Tools and How to Get Started

Wanting to tune, tinker, and test your archery equipment without taking a trip to the pro shop? Great. Here's a list of tools you'll need and how to get setup to become a DIY bow mechanic in your garage.

See All Videos

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Game & Fish App

Other Magazines

See All Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get the top Game & Fish stories delivered right to your inbox every week.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Game & Fish subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now