Tips on Beach Launching
The following tips have been accumulated from many experienced boaties with years of experience.
The local cray fisherman do it all the time so if you’re on the beach when a commercial boat comes in;
it’s worth the effort to watch and learn. They go out any day in most any weather.
Launching your vessel
The first rule is always have a good look at the situation. If the surge is big in the morning, it generally
gets worse in the afternoon.
The down side of a big surge can be frustrating.
If the surge is running and comes a long way up the beach then you may drown your vehicle.
If there is a lot of movement then there is a good chance the sand is very soft and you may bog your
vehicle. Take a walk into the shallow water and you will get a better assessment of sand movement.
If you stand still and your feet are quickly buried then your trailer and boat will do the same.
Launching your vessel is all about good preparation and equipment and it can be very easy.
Quick operation is very important. If you have a four wheel drive make sure it is engaged in 4WD,
don’t wait till it is too late. Make sure everyone knows what they have to do.
A good idea is to have someone in the boat, ready to lower the motor and drive off when the boat and
trailer are in the water. This will mean they can turn the boat around and collect the vehicle driver off
the beach or jetty when the vehicle and trailer are parked up.
When the trailer is backed into the water, ensure the boat is not going to roll off onto the beach. A line
over the bow and looped over the trailer winch post works on smaller boats. Ensure the line can be
easily released when you are ready to slide off the trailer. There are a number of quick release
devices on the market that can be purchased from Trailer or boat chandlers.
If the vehicle is backed in quickly and braked firmly the boat should easily roll off. Too much speed
could fling your buddy into the sea so caution is important.
If you decide to launch without someone on the vessel ensure you have a good line attached to the
bow and turn the vessel bow into the sea as soon as it leaves the trailer.
*** Important note**** Always stand on the seaward or windward side of your vessel. If you are on
the leeward side or downwind of your boat it will go straight over the top of you when the sea takes
over. A ten foot dinghy will crush you if the ocean is behind it pushing.
Recovering the vessel is the hardest part of the operation.
If the surge is strong the safest way of recovery is to drive the vessel hard up onto the beach and drag
it out of the surf with your vehicle. A strong rope and hook on the rear of the trailer can be a great help
in this situation. I have a quick release tow rope permanently attached to my trailer
Once the vessel is dragged up the beach out of the surf the trailer can easily be reversed under the
boat. As you are dragging your boat out it will line up with your trailer making it easier to winch on.
Good winches are a must when it comes to beach launching but remember that any winch will burn
out if it is put under excessive load. Always reverse your trailer under your boat easing the load on
your winch. Try to avoid wire rope as the modern synthetic spectra ropes are a lot stronger and less
harmful when they break. I always insist on the driver never leaving the car during the operation
If the surge is not as harsh and you can winch the vessel onto the trailer in the water, keep the vessel
in line with the trailer by utilising a stern line with a helper standing on the seaward side of the boat.
On larger vessels (6 – 8M) keeping the motor legs down will keep the boat straight. The motors must
be raised when the boat is winched onto the trailer.
A switch mounted on the bow of the vessel connected to the tilt motor can make this operation simple.
Before the trailer is driven out, reverse up half a meter, to get over the sand in front of the tyres.
Once you have seen this done the correct way you will realise how simple beach launching can be
with the right equipment.
Happy boating and always lend a hand to your fellow boaties you never know when you will need
Written by Peter Candido with help from many experienced boat handlers.
October 20, 2021