Return to Dock Checklist

Retrieving Boat:

  • Moor boat correctly with bow, stern, spring lines and/or fenders.

  • Tie bow and stern lines to cleats for person handling lines – Hang fenders if necessary.

  • Have person stand on dock and assist steading the boat.

  • Secure boat to dock.

  • Back trailer down ramp slowly – Roll down the windows in the tow vehicle and have all passengers, human and pets, get out of the vehicle before backing down the ramp. This helps communication with the backup spotter, and it helps in the event the tow vehicle goes into the water; the driver will be able to escape when the power windows become inoperable. In addition, remove seat belt, in the event a quick escape is needed. Ensure all passengers are on the dock or out of way of traffic.

  • Submerge the trailer completely.

  • Remove boat lines from dock and float or drive boat on trailer.

  • Attach winch strap and tighten until boat touches winch stop / roller. 

  • Slowly pull boat up the ramp stopping only if boat is not on trailer properly.

  • Continue to parking area so ramp area stays clear.

  • Remove boat drain plug.

  • Ensure non-essential loads (running lights, VHF, stereo, etc.) are off.

  • Stow gear, cushions, tables etc. so they CAN NOT FLY OUT of boat while trailering.

  • If applicable, fold down & secure Bimini top.

  • Connect boat trailer tie downs.

  • Connect secondary safety cable located at winch.

  • Connect boat trailer lights plug to tow vehicle

  • Close float plan by calling person whom you originally contacted.

  • Shut engine off prior to fueling.

  • Remove all passengers from boat.

  • Do not smoke!

  • Turn off electronics.

  • Insert fuel nose in the fuel tank, not water tank or rod holder!

  • Always fuel a new boat slowly.

Cleaning Boat and Trailer
  • For saltwater use, flush engine per owner’s manual instructions.

  • Remove electronics if not inside cabin.

  • Remove personal items, food and gear.

  • Stowe any gear remaining on boat.

  • Wash down boat, motor and trailer with biodegradable boat soap and fresh water.

  • Allow to air dry before covering boat. For best results, wipe down boat with microfiber cloth.

  • Treat vinyl with dressing to promote long life.

  • Store under cover – be sure air circulates underneath.

USCG Safety Plan.png

Click here to learn more about our boat safety education

It is the responsibility of the boat operator to know and follow all the navigation rules.

A navigation rule can be overlooked if necessary to avoid immediate danger. For a complete listing of the navigation rules, refer to Navigation Rules of the Road, published by the U.S. Coast Guard (COMDTINST 16672.2 Series) and available through the U.S. Government Printing Office or on the Web at