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What is a Critical Step to Take Before Launching Your Boat? (10 Steps)

Written by J. Harvey / Fact checked by S. Numbers

what is a critical step to take before launching your boat

Launching your boat can be challenging if you are new to boating. So, what is a critical step to take before launching your boat?

Before launching your boat, you must complete the pre-departure checklist. This boat launching checklist will help you avoid failures and accidents.

Explore the things you should check before launching your boat. These include checking the weather condition, prepping up the boat engine, installing the drain plug, securing the trailer on the truck, and others.

Pre-departure Checklist

Below is the list of important things to check before launching your boat to get some fresh salty air with friends and family. We can add many things to the checklist to properly launch a boat, but I will only include the major steps.

1 – Check the Weather


Check what the weather is like going on the adventure. If the weather is not good on that day, reschedule for your passenger’s safety.

Preparation for an approaching storm is always a good idea. It would be best if you were always ready for the unexpected.

2 – Check if Your Boat is Compliant

You must comply with rules and regulations before cruising the ocean. Ensure you are not breaking any rules and comply with legal requirements first.

3 – Create a Float Plan

Create a float plan before launching your boat. This document ensures that authorities can locate you and your passengers if anything bad happens to the trip.

4 – Test the Boat Engine


Ensure that you do the necessary engine maintenance before launching your boat. Of course, start and test the engine.

Checking if the oil be changed on a boat’s engine is a must. This article provides great engine maintenance tips.

5 – Install the Drain Plug

You must do this while the boat is on land. Otherwise, the water will get into the boat when it hits the sea.

6 – Secure the Trailer on the Truck

Ensure that the trailer is securely attached to the truck.

7 – Load the Essentials on the Boat

Before the launch, ensure to transfer all essentials from the truck to the boat. These may include your coolers, emergency kit, and equipment.

8 – Free the Boat from the Tie Downs


Before the launch, remove anything that ties the boat to the trailer. Of course, keep the boat attached to the trailer using the winch on the bow eye and the safety chains. Remove these when the boat hits the water.

9 – Disconnect the Trailer Lights


You don’t want to drive back home from your boating adventure without a trailer light. Disconnecting the trailer lights ensures you will not have issues with your bulb or fuses.

10 – Double Check Your Items

Before leaving the dock, ensure to check if everything is onboard. It would be too late to check when you are already in the middle of the ocean.

Launching Your Boat

You are now about to learn how to proceed with launching from a dock.

Check out the steps below:

  • Step 1: Put the Trailer in the Proper Position

Position the trailer towards the launch lane. 

  • Step 2: Carefully Back Down

Slowly roll down the truck until you reach the ideal water level to launch the boat. Engage the parking brake to ensure the vehicle does not roll down the ramp.

  • Step 3: Disconnect the Winch and the Chains

Launching your boat from the trailer steps is the next step. It would help to tie a tow rope to the boat to minimize the downward force. 

  • Step 4: Back Down a Little More

After unhooking the boat from the trailer, back down a little more, doing this will help the boat slide down to the water. 

  • Step 5: Put the Boat in the Proper Position

If you are onboarding the boat, guide the boat using the tow rope. You need to ensure that the area is clear to avoid colliding with other boats – this is your responsibility as a skipper.

  • Step 5: Park the Tow Truck

Find a good spot to park your truck.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are common questions that boaters ask. Check them out.

When should you pull your boat into a launch?

Launch lane courtesy is a good thing to practice. Only pull your boat into a launch lane when the tow truck is ready at the ramp.

Is it hard to launch a boat?

Launching a boat is hard at first. However, the more you do it, the easier it becomes. Launching your boat with a partner is always best until you are confident that you can do it alone.

Which of the following is the proper boat launch etiquette?

Proper boat launch etiquette includes:

  • Completing all the preparations before taking the ramp
  • Launching the boat quickly
  • Pulling your boat into the launch when the tow vehicle is ready


A pre-departure checklist answers the question of what is a critical step to take before launching your boat. There are multiple things you need to check before you launch your boat.

Following the checklist in this article and knowing the safety launching procedure will save you time and spare you from failure and inconvenience. Moreover, it informs you about the basic courtesy of observing the launch ramp.

Happy boating, skipper!

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