Backing up a boat trailer can be a stressful event, especially on a busy and sunny Saturday morning in just about every ramp. Let's face it, trying to back a boat to a specific location in reverse is not the most natural of things to anyone, you are not alone. With a few basic tips and some practice, you’ll be backing up like a pro in no time. Over time, launching your boat will become second nature, just like driving your car once seemed like a daunting task and now you don't blink twice before hitting the road. We have pulled together a few tricks and tips to help you become THE master at the boat landing.
Tip 1. Be prepared.
Nothing can throw you off of your rhythm like not being able to focus on getting to the ramp and launching your Sportsman. Getting to the ramp unprepared or not fully loaded and having to deal with the weekend crowds will surely set you up on the wrong foot. The last thing you want to do is pull up to the landing to then pack your boat. The more prep you do at the house the faster and smoother the launching process will go. Go ahead and make sure the coolers and boat bags are ready to go and, in the boat, leaving only very essential things, like your wallet, for the very last second. Bonus tip while you’re waiting in line at the ramp, remove your straps and load any remaining items that need to go in the boat. This will make it so you're 100% ready when it’s your turn.
Tip 2. Backing Basics
At first, it will seem like the trailer has a mind of its own and has decided on going exactly opposite of where you want it to go.
For tracking the boat and trailer, we recommend you either use your mirrors to see the trailer or turn around in your seat and look out of the back window. Either way works great and boils down to personal driver preference. If you choose to use your mirrors, make sure that your mirrors are properly adjusted so you can see the trailers fenders.
As you are setting up your truck and trailer to start backing up, pull your vehicle up far enough so that your trailer is straight with the truck and pointing at the spot you are aiming for. This will allow you to simply back up straight into your spot with only very minor steering adjustments. We see this very often, a person doesn't pull up far enough and then has to make an exaggerated steering adjustment right off the bat to pivot the trailer. This will destroy your visibility of the boat and trailer making it impossible to know where you are going.
Once you’ve got that set up and straight, put the vehicle in reverse and your left hand at the 6 o’clock position of the steering wheel. Then slowly begin to back up. If you need the trailer to go left, move your left hand left and if you need it to go right, move your left hand right. The pro tip here is, small corrections are all you need. Make a small steering correction and watch the reaction. Only then should you make any further steering adjustments. It takes a little bit for the trailer to react to your steering corrections. Little adjustments can really make life easy. They key is slow and steady, take your time.
Tip 3. Practice makes perfect.
Goes without saying but practice makes perfect. We’ve all seen the guy that backs his trailer down like it’s his job. Well, despite what you may think, that didn’t happen over night. Practicing will make all of the difference. This might be an obvious one but practicing on that busy summer morning is not the right time. Make some time in a week day when the crowds are gone and back the boat up as many times as you want without the stress of the crowd. Find that sweet spot of pulling up far enough and backing up using mirrors or looking back. Try both methods and see what you prefer. Make sure you reset all the way out between repetitions for the most real life practice session.
We hope these tips will serve you well for many boating years to come aboard your Sportsman Boat. Share them with your friends and get some practice time under your belt.