Launching and retrieving your vessel

Launching a boat from a trailer and retrieving it (loading) are important skills. In each instance, the steps to be taken must be carefully planned and executed to ensure safety and to avoid damage to the vessel.


  1. Make pre-launch preparations well away from the ramp
  2. If you're launching a 'trailer sailer', check for overhead wires before you rig or move your boat
  3. Line up the car and trailer so that the backing process will be straight and as short as possible
  4. Study the ramp and surrounding water area for any hazards
  5. Do not remove the trailer winch or safety chain until your vessel is in the water
  6. Secure lines to the bow and stern, then either float or motor off with care.

Taking off and berthing

  1. Insist that everyone aboard is within the boat itself, not on the side decking, and especially not on the bow or where they will obstruct your view
  2. Move off slowly. The same goes for returning to jetty, mooring or ramp
  3. Always check for trailing ropes that may be caught in your propeller.


  • Align the centre of your vessel to that of the trailer; proceed carefully up the trailer until the winch or safety chain can be secured
  • If you are not confident in driving your vessel on to the trailer, you can secure a line to both the bow and stern to control the boat as you use the winch
  • Vacate the ramp as quickly as possible and park in the appropriate preparation area to finish securing the vessel for towing.

Remember, secure your vessel to the trailer using both the winch and safety chain.

View more boat ramp advice videos in the Victorian Fisheries Authority's Better Boating Victoria YouTube playlist.

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