Invasive species regulations are now in effect in many states and many of them now require boaters to remove the plug and drain the bilge and live well before transporting a watercraft. In our Basic Boating Safety Course we have an extensive section on trailering and one of the things we emphasize is to make sure the drain plug is in before launching your boat.
The majority of recreational boats in the United States are trailered to and from the water. Your boat trailer is only one part of the entire boating package, which includes the boat, trailer, hitch and towing vehicle. Neglecting the trailer’s maintenance can result in damage to your boat, your towing vehicle or both. Below is our check-list for launching.
- Do initial launch preparations away from the ramp so as not to impede launching for others.
- Raise the outdrive or motor, remove the support bracket and install the drain plug.
- Disconnect the trailer wiring. Remove tie down straps and again check the drain plug.
- Make any equipment adjustments necessary and check the drain plug.
- Connect the fuel tank, check fluid levels and check the drain plug.
- Drive to the ramp and back the boat and trailer down the ramp, keeping the tow vehicle’s wheels out of the water.
- Set the emergency brake, shift into Park, and block the wheels.
- Someone should get aboard the boat, turn on the blower, lower the motor, look for water entering the boat, (in case you forgot to check the drain plug) sniff the bilge and start the motor.
- Make sure you have attached a bow line to the boat, then release the winch and disconnect the winch line.
- You should be able to launch the boat with a slight shove or by backing the boat off the trailer under power.
- Return the towing vehicle to the parking lot as soon as the boat is launched so the next person in line may proceed.
- Move the boat to an area away from the ramp to load additional equipment and passengers.
A bright-yellow warning sticker has been created by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to help remind boaters to “check their drain plug.”
The DNR suggests that the warning sticker be placed next to the boat trailer’s winch handle, or somewhere else that the boater is likely to see it before the boat is launched.
If you think this is a good idea, contact your local State Boating Authorities and suggest they follow the lead set by the Minnesota DNR.