How To Back a Boat Trailer Like a Pro | BoatUS

Backing up your boat trailer can be a
challenge. But by practicing a few simple techniques, you can turn yourself into a
pro, whether you’re headed for the launch ramp or back to your driveway. Set
yourself up for success by using some markers to practice in a large empty
parking lot. Check that your side mirrors are properly adjusted. From the driver’s
seat you should see the side of the trailer on the inner half of each mirror.
The outer half of each mirror will show any approaching hazards. Now you’re ready to go so turn on your hazard lights to let other drivers know you’re on the
move. The key to successful backing is remembering that the back of the trailer
moves in the opposite direction of the vehicle. So by turning the steering wheel
clockwise, the vehicle will go to the right, as usual, but the back of the
trailer goes left. This can be confusing to remember, especially when you have a
line of boats behind you at the ramp. So here’s a great tip: grasp the wheel, palm
down, with one hand at 6 o’clock. From this position, if you want the trailer to
the left you move your hand to left. If you want the trailer to move right you
move your hand to the right. Ok let’s give this a try now. Pull the truck and
trailer forward to give yourself plenty of room to maneuver, with the wheel
straight and the vehicle and trailer in alignment. Shift into reverse, grasp the
wheel at 6 o’clock, look around for any obstacles, then keep
an eye on the passenger mirror. As you gently accelerate, move your hand on the
steering wheel, move it to the left so the trailer goes left, to the right so
that the trailer goes right. Once the trailer begins to arc through its turn,
bring the vehicle’s wheels back to center to follow the direction of the
trailer. Remember, it’s better to understeer then oversteer so you don’t
accidentally jackknife. This happens when the vehicle folds back on the trailer
creating a small angle. You can see he’s over steered a bit here, so simply pull
forward to straighten out and then begin again. With a few practice sessions under
your seatbelt you can begin to negotiate more complicated situations. A well-executed backing something to be proud of and the way to make that routine is
through practice. You can do this. Practice makes perfect. you

11 thoughts on “How To Back a Boat Trailer Like a Pro | BoatUS”

  1. as an 18 wheeler driver I noticed you did not mention the 2 most important things that were not mentioned are always look in both mirrors no more than a second at a time. if you are looking at a mirror too long, the boat can go to the oposite side way to fast and you get a jack knife before you realize it. next is to start thinking about the back up as you pull into the dock area. get the rig in position before you even start to back. this way you will be ready to back easily right away

  2. Good tips. I earned by grade school diploma on how to back up the hard way, after driving our 4Runner cross country while pulling a UHaul trailer and ended up taking a wrong turn down a dead-end road that didn't have any room to turn around. At night.

    You get really good really fast when you have to back up around two curves for about a mile. It took about a half mile for me to finally start to steer without thinking. I think I never had to pull ahead the last quarter mile.

    Experience and necessities are both great teachers!

  3. I'm sure you guys will laugh at this, but I need help AFTER the boat launch process. My issue comes in trying to park in a crowded parking lot at the boat. If it's not a straight forward pull ahead spot, I'm screwed. We just bought a bigger boat and I really need help with this. any advice? I don't want to be the girl at the boat ramp that has to ask for help because I've got our truck and trailer in a situation I can't get out of. thanks!

  4. When backing a trailer, the further you have to back the more difficult it becomes. Back slowly, in idle if you have a diesel engine. When the trailer starts to jack STOP! counter steer wheel, slowly pull forward just enough, inches to one or 2 feet in most cases, stop, counter steer wheel and again start backing slowly correcting steering slowly and minimally. if need be, stop adjust wheel and resume backing. NEVER PULL ANY FARTHER FORWARD THEN ABSOLUTLY NECESSARY! Again, the further you have to back the more chance of getting out of wack. Always use side mirrors and focus on where trailer tires are going. if you use a spotter, gag them, have them hold a sign that says stop if you are about to hit something, otherwise they are mute. a spotter trying to give directions is frustrating and worthless. if they think they can do better let them try! Finally, 35yrs driving and backing tractor trailers and launching my boat has taught me a plethora of tricks and techniques.

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