Most Kiwi boat owners have launched off the beach at some point. Whether there’s no other option, or the boat ramp’s too busy, sometimes it’s necessary to get a little sand and salt water on your trailer.

Problem is, we’ve seen dozens of boaties muck up their beach launches and retrievals and get stuck (or worse). To make sure you don’t make the same mistakes this summer we’ve come up with an easy guide to launching and retrieving your boat at the beach.

Check out the beach first

Before you back onto the beach, take a look around. If the beach is unfamiliar, take note of where the soft sand is and avoid it. Look around for tracks from where other boaties have backed their boats in and follow their lead.

If you know any of the locals, ask them where the best spot to launch is. There may be deep or shallow spots at the beach and picking the right area could make your launch a little easier. Last of all, before you drive down, make sure your truck or tractor will easily be able to make it up the track off the beach and you won’t get stranded.

Launching on the boat is safe and easy if you know what you’re doing.

Prepare your boat before you launch

Before launch, make sure your boat is ready to go so that you’re not running around sorting it out while other boaties wait to launch:

  • Put the bungs in.
  • Take off your tie downs.
  • Check that the motor lock is off.
  • Make sure all the gear you need is in the boat.
  • Attach a rope to the bow of the boat if someone is going to hold it, or have a capable driver ready at the wheel.

Now that you’re prepared, you’re ready to get your boat in the water and get out there.

Being quick and efficient is the secret to a good beach launch.

Be effective and efficient

When you launch your boat be fast, effective and efficient. Take your safety shackle off before you get the boat in the water, unhook your boat from the winch and push it off. Make sure you have someone there holding the vessel on a rope or someone at the wheel to drive.

When you retrieve your boat the same rules apply – be as fast as you can. Get the trailer into the water about halfway up its tyres and have someone ready to run the winch rope out and hook it on when the boat gets close. Once it’s hooked, wind the winch up as quick as you can and drive out of the water straight away, using constant steady acceleration to avoid sinking into the sand. The quicker you do this, the less chance there is of getting stuck.

If you’re worried that the sand is too soft, try backing up to the water at a 45 degree angle – that way one tyre will pop out at a time. You should try to avoid launching in waves but if you must, make sure you turn the vessel around and hold the bow into the waves so that it doesn’t get pushed back into the beach.

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