When a mean crosswind kicks up, everyone talks about docking. Sure it’s hard to back your boat into a slip when the wind is blowing sideways, but typically at least you have pilings or cleats to work with. What about loading on a trailer?
Getting a boat back on a trailer in a howling wind or sweeping current is one of the least fun things to do. But as some saltwater ramps are affected by tidal currents and many riverside ramps by the steady flow of water downstream, it’s an issue that affects trailer boaters. Here are a few tips for loading onto your trailer in a crosswind or current.
High and Dry
First and foremost, sink the bunks or rollers the minimal amount necessary to float the bow of your boat onto the back end. Make sure the tops of the bunks or rollers are out of the water; they’ll act as brakes to keep your bow from overshooting. If it is legal to use your engine to load at the launch ramp — in many places it’s not — let your horsepower do the work. Use the thrust to push forward, and let the bunks align your boat in place and hold the hull on the trailer.
Help from Your Friends
Without the aid of power, you’ll have to rely on your boat’s momentum. Sometimes the wind or current makes doing this without assistance a near impossibility. Before loading, unfurl the trailer strap or cable as far as it will go and hang it off the end of your upwind trailer guide. Quickly clip it and have a friend winch it up to center the boat.
If the aft end keeps swinging, affix extra-long bow and stern lines and have a friend handle them like reins from the launch ramp dock or on shore. He can keep the boat centered while the winch does the work.
And if any of these don’t work on the first try, keep calm, as they say, and carry on. Back off and try the approach again.