How to Backup Your Boat Trailer

Backing Your Boat Trailer

One area that new boat owners can struggle with is backing the trailer down the ramp.  On a busy weekend, there is nothing more embarrassing than being “that guy” who jackknifes the trailer back and forth down the ramp only to have to pull forward and start over dozens of times. 

The debate over using mirrors or turning and looking where the trailer is going is like politics….both sides think they are completely right.  We find the thing that matters most is what you are used to and comfortable with.

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The key to backing a trailer really is repetition and muscle memory.  Like Alan Iverson said….”we talking ‘bout practice”.

We recommend heading to an open area with as little traffic as possible.  Any parking lot, field, or unpopulated street will do, just make sure you know exactly what is behind you once you start practicing.  Once you’re in a safe practice environment, first start working on slowly going straight back.  Pull to where your trailer is directly behind you, put in in reverse and back up slowly trying to keep the boat going straight.  The boat will naturally want to turn slightly, so just keep a close eye on it and when you see it start to waiver, correct it with small movements of your vehicle. 

A big issue we see new owners do with backing is to overcorrect.  They key is, go slow and make minor corrections.  If the boat gets too far off course, stop, pull forward to straighten things back out and start again.

Choosing the Best Ramp

One thing we see many boat owners struggle with on a busy lake is trying to be the Ace Ventura of boat backers and squeeze that trailer in to a tight space “Like a Glove”!  There really isn’t any need for this.  I find that a little patience can help make sure you get enough ramp space to feel comfortable with new backing skills.

We generally like to take a spot on either side of the ramp.  Having a visual of a distinct line will help you direct that trailer more accurately, than being in the middle with little to go off of as you stare intently into your mirrors.  Pick a side, wait for the right spot to open, and take it slow.

It’s better to go slow and be more accurate then to get frustrated by going fast and watch your trailer dive side to side looking like defenders in Tecmo Bowl flying around at 45 degree angles constantly.