Loading a boat on its trailer at the ramp can be one of the most uncomfortable aspects of boating for some people, especially in a fast crosscurrent, which is often encountered on rivers and tidal estuaries. The good news is it doesn’t have to be.
In this video, Barry Stokes, former host of “Let’s Fish TV," shares a great tip to help you navigate the current and get your boat safely onto the trailer the first time, every time.
The secret is starting from a downstream position, with the bow directly facing the current. Use the thrust of the engine to slowly work upstream to a position just behind the trailer. At the last moment, make a decisive 90-degree turn and drive the boat on the trailer.
Many people try to start on the upstream side and let the current push them into position, but that method provides little or no control while drifting with the current, and it’s very easy to get carried past the trailer. By starting downstream and using slow and steady thrust, it’s easy to drive into the ideal loading position without fear of floating past.
Be aware that strong currents can actually push an empty trailer well off-center and even push the downstream tire off the edge of the ramp. The way to combat that is to back the trailer in only as far as is needed to load the boat, but no farther. The deeper it goes, the greater the chance that the current will overcome the friction of the trailer tires on the ramp and start pushing it around.
This same basic technique described in the video can also be useful when there’s a brisk crosswind at the ramp.