So now that we are skipper’s it is time to put the boat in the water. Hang on they didn’t cover the art of reversing down the ramp to the water! Having to twist your head around every time you reverse your boat down a launch ramp can become a real pain in the neck, and with larger boats, the view over the seat doesn’t take in the entire picture. The solution is to learn to use the mirrors as your primary reference when reversing. Here are some simple tips that you can practice and make the art of reversing your boat a little easier.
Bearings: Always walk the boat ramp area and visualize your path into the water. Take note of small bits of landscape along the side of the ramp and ensure to fix your mirrors to show these small bits of the landscape as you reverse down the ramp. Always remember to do your pre-launch checks on your boat before placing it in the water.
Hands Down: Once you a ready, the trick is to place a hand on the bottom of the steering wheel. Now watching your boat in the rear-view mirror, move your hand in the direction you want the boat and trailer to go. Move your hand to the right, and the boat goes right in your mirror. When reversing in a straight line, the goal is to keep the boat trailer evenly spaced in both mirrors. If it starts to move more into one mirror, push in the opposite direction with the hand to move the trailer back in line.
Straight and Easy: If possible always try to align your vehicle and boat in a straight line. So you are ready, but before you reverse, take a moment to look in both mirrors and identify fixed reference points. This will keep you on the straight and narrow. As you reverse make small corrections early to keep the trailer centered in the mirrors. Always take it slow and keep assessing the situation even if you have to stop a couple of times. If you make a mistake all you do is pull forward and reposition. The trick is to take it slow and don’t rush.
Turning Point: On shorter ramps, you may have to reverse around a turn to reach the water. You will want to make a smooth, medium turn that leaves your vehicle and trailer in a straight line before the trailer hits the water. For the average trailer, you will require about two rig lengths from the top of the ramp. Visualize a fixed pivot point for the turn, and identify an object that lines up with the end of the turn. Always remember reversing is a lot easier when you have some assistance from an observer. The observer should always position themselves that you can see them in either of the mirrors. Agree on a simple set of hand signals to guide you around. The observer shouldn’t be there to confuse the matter but to be of assistance.