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How to Launch a Watercraft

How to Launch a Watercraft

As a new jet ski owner, there is a lot to learn. One of the first things you need to learn is how to launch a watercraft from your trailer. If you can’t get it off the trailer and into the water successfully, you can’t get out and enjoy it! Here are a few great tips to help you master this important aspect of jet skiing.

1. Check the ramp before backing in

You should always inspect the ramp before backing in as well as any surrounding areas to make sure you enough clearance. Nothing is worse than backing into a ramp and not being able to properly maneuver or get out when finished. You should look for anything in the ramp setup or the water that might interfere with a successful and safe launch.

2. Run through a pre-load checklist

When it comes to how to launch a watercraft, you should run through a quick checklist before you even back up to the ramp. This should include things like:

  • Removing the watercraft cover
  • Undoing the rear tie-down straps
  • Checking that the drain plugs are tight
  • Unplugging the electrical hookup
  • Loading on board any items in your storage area that you want to take with you


3. Start the watercraft before backing in

Before you back in, start the jet ski up which will make it easier to launch. You never want to start a jet ski in the water, but you also never want to leave it on land or the trailer turned on either so once you start it, make haste to get the trailer backed into the water.

4. Be careful backing into the water

When backing into the water, make sure you follow a few tips to ensure safety for your towing vehicle. For starters, if you have 4WD, you should engage it for extra traction. Some launch ramps are full of slippery algae and a bit of extra traction is always helpful. Secondly, never back in and turn off your towing vehicle especially if you are submerged to the point the exhaust is under water. This can cause water to travel up the exhaust and lead to issues for your truck. Finally, don’t back in too deep. You should have a long enough trailer that you can back the entirety of the trailer into the water without flooding your personal vehicle you are using to tow.

5. Guide it into the water

Once the trailer is submerged, the jet ski should start to float enough to guide it out of the trailer and into more open water. When doing this, be careful of others loading from nearby ramps to make sure you have the right of way before leaving the ramp on your jet ski. You should also note that launching a jet ski is a two-person job since you will need someone else to move the towing vehicle from the launch ramp and into a designated parking area. Leaving the tow vehicle in the ramp is a bad idea for the vehicle itself, and also because others will want to use that ramp to launch.