Boating Basics Online is reader-supported. When you buy via our links, we may earn a commission at no cost to you. Learn more

How Far to Back a Boat Trailer Into Water? Things to Know!

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

how far to back a boat trailer into water

You can create blissful memories in the water and under the sun with your boat. However, every moment is not only intended for having fun. There are some things that you have to work on for the sake of sailing safely and with no problems.

For instance, how far to back a boat trailer into water? Some boaters find this process an undertaking. They may struggle to retrieve their boats or back a boat into the water when on a trailer.

In regards to this, two-thirds part of the trailer’s bunks or rollers should be submerged. When necessary, you have to keep the wheels out of the water. I know two sentences are not enough to lay out all the details. There’s more to know in the following statements.

The Certified Boat Trailer

how far do you back a boat trailer into the water

Whether you’re an expert or not with putting back trailers in water, you need to know what authorities require manufacturers. By knowing and understanding the necessary parts of a boat trailer, this process will be a piece of cake for you.

It’s also for your safety and you’ll be free from spending money on repairs when some parts are damaged. NMMA or National Marine Manufacturers Association has set federal safety regulations and industry standards to be followed by boat trailer manufacturers.

Their products will be recognized as certified boat trailers when they have safety chains, couplings, VIN plates, lighting, brakes, capacity ratings, registration, and winches. To ensure compliance, third-party inspectors visit the manufacturers every year.

Steps When Putting Back a Boat Trailer Into Water


Knowing these steps will improve your skills in putting back the boat trailer into the water. You will no longer need boat trailer towing service when you execute them correctly.

Step 1: Keeping an eye on your trailer

You have to stop what you’re doing if you don’t see the trailer’s sides because this means you can’t see where you’re going. Side mirrors play a big part in this matter. Without it, backing can be risky.

You can check through the side mirror when you’re in the driver’s seat. One-third or half of the trailer should appear from your side. In this way, you’ll be able to detect any hazards or threats. Ensure that your trailer is in sight at all times. You can buy an extended mirror or wider side attachment.

Step 2: Utilizing hazard lights

Never back a boat trailer into the water if you don’t have hazard lights. It’s a must-have when using towing vehicles. This item is for your fellow boaters to know that you’re moving a boat trailer. They’ll recognize your action and be careful of their own to prevent collisions.

Quality hazard lights are from ONLINE LED STORE, HONLEEX, and PSEQT. Make sure they’re working before you put your trailer back into the water.

Step 3: Move slowly

Taking your boat trailer to the intended area should be done at a slow pace. It’s better to take time doing it rather than going fast and causing an accident. Know that the trailer’s back can get out of control once high speed is applied.

Step 4: The right way to steer the trailer

You have to steer the trailer backward. Also, be observant of how the trailer responds to your steering. Putting the vehicle then steering clockwise takes you to the right while doing it in reverse causes you to go to the left.

It may be hard for some to remember but you can pull it through by practicing with dedication. To make it simple for you, the trailer follows the wheel’s movement. Thus, the wheel turning to the left results in the trailer going to the left too.

The confusion only exists when referring to the trailer’s rear as it goes right when you turn left. If you’re new to this, clear your head and be particular about the left and right sides.

Step 5: Practice makes perfect!

It sounds like a cliché but it works. You can practice in a parking space, garage, or any open area. Some lines may help you to check if the steering is mutual with your intuition. It’s fine to give yourself some time to get it right.

Step 6: The boat should be ready

Before you can back your trailer into the water, your boat should be ready. The ratchet straps should be in the proper place. You don’t want to discover that something’s off when you finish loading the boat on a bunk trailer in the water. It can happen if you’re not mindful of this step.

Step 7: Holding the wheel

When holding the wheel, you can find several directions to turn to. It’s a common thing to hold the wheel’s bottom with your left hand in a 6:00 position. Next, you have to put your vehicle in reverse.

Don’t fail to gently feed your vehicle with gas to keep the wheel straight. Stay focused on the direction where your trailer is heading through the mirrors. Then, you can slowly turn the wheel in the direction that you prefer.

Observe how your trailer reacts as you handle the wheel. Some trailers respond quicker than others. It must be done slowly, especially if you’re using a new trailer. You can move your hands to the left and see what the trailer would do.

Step 8: Watch closely for the unexpected

How far do you back a boat trailer into water? Watch closely as your trailer starts to move in a direction. Then, turn the wheel and keep backing up. Stay at a slow pace in case unforeseen deviations happen.

Step 9: Getting help

It can be daunting for inexperienced boaters to back a boat trailer. So, don’t be shy to get help from someone who’ll be behind you and give hand signals regarding your movements.

The other person can let you determine the amount of space that you can back up. He or she can also tell you if you need to move left, right, or towards the center. Nevertheless, it’s fine if you can do it by yourself.

Step 10: Getting into the desired position

You can feel frustrated when things don’t go as planned. But you can grab the chance to straighten your actions. It’s not a problem to give it a second, third, or more tries. You can pull forward to do it all over again.

Successfully Backing a Boat Trailer

Make sure you have read through every step on how far to back a boat trailer into water. Doing so will prevent you from having a hard time retrieving or launching your boat. Also, you won’t be submerging your boat too far. Once you’re familiar with the steps, you’ll always have a good ending with your boat trailer.

5/5 - (2 votes)