Trailering Tips

How to Back-Up a Boat Trailer

Before going boating, you must get the boat into the water. The last step in that process often involves backing a trailered boat down a launch ramp — an endeavor that can sometimes be stressful or intimidating for many boat owners.

Check out Discover Boating's Boat Towing and Trailing Guide for information on all aspects of towing and launching. These tips also apply to backing the trailer away from the ramp — into your driveway, for example.

backing up a trailer

8 Steps for Backing Up a Boat Trailer

  1. Before you leave the staging area, always walk down and inspect the ramp.
  2. When possible, align the boat and trailer so you can back straight down the ramp.
  3. When possible, it’s handy to back down the ramp with a dock to the left, or driver’s side.
  4. Slow is pro! Back up slowly, allowing you more time to correct the trailer if needed.
  5. Remember, with a trailer, steering is backward: steer the wheel to the left and the trailer will steer to the right—and vice versa.
  6. When in doubt, pull forwards to straighten out and start again.
  7. Consult your rear-view backup camera, if applicable, but also consult your exterior mirrors.
  8. Finally, once backed down the ramp and the stern of your boat is floating, don't forget to set the parking brake before exiting your vehicle!