Boaters sometimes find themselves alone on the water. Whether it’s due to current health guidelines or simply a preference for solitude, many boaters feel “alone time” on the water is time well spent. But boating alone can also bring challenges.
For example, loading a boat onto a trailer by yourself can be difficult.
Bassmaster Elite Series professional angler Brandon Lester of Fayetteville, Tennessee, shared a few essential tips to make the loading process a little easier:
“Our Bassmaster tournament rules preclude us from having someone else in the boat during our three days of official practice,” Lester related. “So that means I launch alone in the morning and trailer the boat in the evening – alone. After a long day on the water, I’m looking to get my boat on the trailer as efficiently as possible.”
Lester’s tournament boat is a 2020 Phoenix 920 Pro XP powered by a Mercury 250hp Pro XS.
Lester, 32, has fished 90 Bassmaster tournaments, finishing in the Top 10 twenty times and amassing $638,999 in career earnings.
“My biggest piece of advice (when loading a boat on a trailer), based on my experience and watching people at boat ramps, is to back the trailer in the water to the proper level,” said the five-time Bassmaster Classic qualifier. “Boat trailer bunks, or running boards, are designed to center the boat on the trailer. If the trailer is too far in the water the boat hull will get out of alignment, the back end will swing around, and the keel of the boat can run up onto the trailer fenders, causing damage.
“Conversely, if the trailer is not far enough in the water, the boat won’t be able to get completely up to the trailer winch easily.”
Lester follows a straightforward rule to position the trailer properly in the water.
“I back those bunks in to where they are sticking out of the water about halfway,” he said. “Once I’m back in the boat, I idle onto the trailer under control. I don’t give the motor a bunch of gas. I just want to guide it up onto the running boards. The boat will center itself on the trailer and should be within a few feet of the trailer winch.
“Then I let the boat settle a second to make sure it is straight on the bunks. Then I push the boat up on the trailer with steady power from the motor. My four-stroke Mercury has plenty of power to push my boat right up on there.
“Then I fasten the winch clip to the boat’s towing eye and make sure to crank the winch down tight. Depending on the ramp height, and the type of motor on the boat, it might be necessary to raise the motor so it doesn’t scrape the ramp exiting the water.”
After the Boat is Loaded
“Once I’ve pulled off the ramp and parked, I pull the drain plug and empty the livewells. I fasten the boat buckles on the trailer and then brace the motor. I make sure the trailer lights are all working properly and everything is either stored or tightened down inside the boat, and I’m ready to go.”
Lester simplifies the process with a TrickStep from Mark Peiser Manufacturing. The three- and four-step system attaches to the boat trailer, providing easier access in and out of his boat.
For more guidance on trailering a boat alone, check out the below video of Brandon Lester loading his boat after a day on the water.
*Power loading – using the engine to load or unload a boat onto or off a trailer – can damage launch ramps and is illegal in some states. Please sure to review local laws and regulations.