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Your crew is worn out, tanned and ready to rest up for another day. It’s time to pull the boat out. Although this is really similar to launching in reverse, there are some key things to consider. Here’s the rundown.

Ground Rules

Like many things with a boat in motion around a stationary object, loading up is best done slowly and carefully. Don’t worry about the lineup at the boat ramp, they will all wait their turn just like you did. Just concentrate on the task at hand and make sure you don’t put yourself between the boat and the trailer. Remember: Slow is smooth and smooth is fast.

“Go Home” Button

Axis makes it easy to get your boat ready to trailer. When you’re ready, hit the “go home” button to drain the ballast, stow Power Wedge® III and Surf Gate®, and deactivate cruise control. It’s as simple as that.

Boat Ramp Champ (In Reverse)

If you’re loading solo, you can beach or dock the boat and get the trailer yourself. If you’ve got help, they can grab the truck and trailer while you idle the boat. This way is almost always faster when there’s a backup at the ramp. In the meantime, prep the boat by stowing your fenders and lines and swiveling board racks back in.

Backing In

If you’re backing the truck in, take it slow and try to get the trailer to the same depth you used to launch the boat. Every ramp is different, but typically backing in until the front bunks are at the waterline is a good depth. Try to back in straight and keep your windows down and music off so you can hear any signals from your spotters or boat driver. When you’re at the right depth, put the vehicle in park and set the emergency brake.

Drive It On

Here again, slow is the name of the game. Just like you’re kicking a field goal, keep it between the uprights and you’re going to be golden. It’s easy to overcorrect at slow speeds, so try to use small steering movements and short bursts of forward to keep going straight. Try to aim the bow at the winch stand and don’t come in too hot. You can always back up and take another shot at it if you feel like you’re off track.

Hook It Up

Hook the winch strap onto the boat’s bow eye and center the bow on the bow roller. Reverse the winch selector so it’s pulling in and clicking, then start winding the boat in. When the bow eye meets the roller, the boat is where it needs to be and you can connect the safety chain if your trailer has it.

Tow It Out

If you stick your tow vehicle in four-wheel drive or four low, you might make your life easier here because the transmission is doing less work and everything happens a little more slowly and with more control. If you don’t have either of these, put the vehicle in drive and release the parking brake while slowly easing down on the accelerator. Do your best not to spin the tires as the boat comes out of the water.

Ready To Roll

Move your rig out of the way of other boaters trying to load, and get your boat and trailer ready to roll. Fasten transom straps, pull the plugs and turn your batteries off. This is also a good time to unload gear, refreshments and snacks. Your electronics should still be plugged in to your tow vehicle, and your safety chains crossed in an “X” pattern so you should be good to go! And it’s easy to do so we’ll say it one more time, don’t forget those transom straps!

On Your Right! (Again)

You’re going to want to swing extra wide on right turns because curbs and other stationary objects will be close to the trailer, and the trailer will get closer to them as you turn. Don’t be afraid to use multiple lanes and wait for the perfect moment to pull out when you have plenty of space and time.

Use Your Mirrors

Your mirrors are your best friend while towing. Use them before changing lanes, turning and to check your rig. Most tow vehicles drive a good five miles per hour below the speed limit on the highway so stay in the slow lane and give yourself plenty of time for exits and turns. Advanced notice from your navigator (or checking the route out ahead of time) is key here.

Back It Up

Since things work in reverse while backing a trailer, it might take a bit of getting used to. If you get stuck, remember the trick of using one hand at the bottom of the steering wheel; whichever way you turn that hand the trailer will go.

Park And Prep

Now is the time to make another sweep for anything that needs to come out of the boat while double checking that the batteries are off and the plugs are out. Tilt the seats on edge so the compartments dry out and cover the boat, making sure to fasten all Velcro and tighten the ratchet straps at the back. Set your chocks in place and you’re ready to unhook.

Unhook It

You might have guessed this is the opposite of hooking it up, but we’ll tell you anyway. Unhook the safety chains and electronics, release the coupler and raise it off the vehicle’s ball with the tongue jack and pull the vehicle forward. And that’s all she wrote! Your Axis is ready for another great day on the water and you’re ready for a relaxing night looking back on a great day.


Did you miss the info on how to dock like a pro? No worries, read it here.


*This document is meant as a guide. Always check state and local regulations as well as U.S. Coast Guard regulations for specific boating rules and regulations. Areas and conditions can be unique so it’s best to check ahead of time. 

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