How To Winch A Boat Onto A Trailer

3 minutes


Know What You're Doing With A Boat Trailer

Read the manual first


Getting a boat onto a trailer can be trickier than it looks! You may have witnessed other people doing it that made it look easy, but the chances are they are well practised! If you are getting your boat onto a trailer for the first time then it’s a good idea to read up on how to do it before you attempt it, and perhaps try watching some online instruction videos too for a visual lesson. You can’t risk getting it wrong – one false move and your pride and joy might come crashing down, and this will inevitably lead to costly repair bills. Here’s our step by step guide to getting your boat onto its trailer:

Line it Up

Adjusting the ramp

Line up with the ramp


Whether you are sailing or using an engine, line your boat up with the ramp or landing slip (bearing in mind the water will get shallower the closer you get to it). Once you are as close as possible, secure the boat by tying it to a post, making sure it can’t get free.

Once you are confident that the boat isn’t going to go anywhere, go and get your trailer, backing it down the ramp into the water. Keep your eye on the bow line as you will need to line it up with the trailer. Guide the boat onto the trailer carefully (it will help if you have somebody to help you do this). If you’re lucky, your trailer will have guide-ons, but if not you’ll have to do it by hand.

Winch It Up

Winch up the boat trailer

Make sure the winch is securely attached

You’ll then need to make sure the winch line is attached to the boat’s bow. The winch can be a manual one or an electric one, but either way, use it to winch the boat up onto the trailer. A good quality winch is the key here – a cheap or faulty one just won’t have the strength to pull the boat all the way onto the trailer. When the boat is sitting comfortably on the trailer, tie it down with some rope to make sure it doesn’t go anywhere.

Up The Ramp!

When you are confident that the boat is secured tightly to the trailer, pull the trailer back up the ramp (again getting some help if you need it). Back your car or van up to the trailer and hook it up. Move the vehicle and the boat away from the ramp in case somebody else wants to use it. You’ll need to take all of your equipment out at this stage, and then hook up the wiring plate from your vehicle to the trailer so that you have all your lights and registration plate on the back of the boat. Cover the boat with a tarpaulin if you have one. Check all of your knots before driving off – it only takes one loose one to make the boat wobble on the trailer, and this is really dangerous when you are driving.

It’s good etiquette to help somebody else winch their boat onto a trailer if you see them struggling. Hopefully someone will do the same for you if you need a little help!


The author of this post, Noel Williams, works at I&M Industrial & Marine Winch Hire, a renowned electric & diesel hydraulic power pack provider in Perth, Western Australia. He keeps himself updated with the latest technology that hits the market and enjoys sharing his ideas via blogging.


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