Launching a jet ski and returning it to the trailer can be hard for new jet ski owners.
Over the years, I’ve helped hundreds of people launch their jet skis and get back to the trailer. In this guide, I want to go over how to do it and give you some valuable tips you can use to make this process easy.
Prepare The Watercraft
Before launching your watercraft, there are a few things you need to do first:
- Put the drain plugs in, if you don’t, you will sink.
- Remove the straps at the rear. Only do the bow strap when the jet ski is touching water.
- Make sure the jet ski starts up. If it doesn’t start on land, it for sure won’t start in water.
- Add all your gear and items you want to bring, do this before you back down the ramp.
- Have your key and life jacket ready.
- Double-check the drain plug are in.
How To Launch Your Watercraft
The hardest part of launching a jet ski is backing the trailer down the ramp. It requires practice, but the straighter you can be when backing down, the easier it will be.
- If you have a truck, lower the tailgate and look behind you. This is vital if you have a single jet ski trailer, as they’re hard to see out the mirrors. If you have an SUV, then lifting the hatch and lowering the rear seats will do the same.
- If you’re having a hard time figuring out how to steer, then place your hand on the bottom of the steering wheel, this will feel more natural to you.
- Don’t use the backup camera, as some of them can confuse you and distort the image.
- Keep straight as possible. When you pull up to the ramp, swing around so that you’re perfectly straight with the ramp. Do this even if it means you feel like you’re far away from the ramp. The straighter the trailer is, the easier it is to back up.
- If you feel like you’re going crooked, then you are. Pull up to straighten back out.
- Go slow.
- NEVER unlatch your trailer to readjust it. Ramps are on hills straight to the water, and gravity will take over and put you and everyone at the ramp in danger if you remove the trailer from the vehicle.
- Practice. On a weekday, go out to the ramps and practice backing in, or go early in the morning when no one is out. This is the only way you’re going to get good at this.
When the jet ski is in the water, here is how you take off:
- Put your life jacket on.
- Attach the key to you and the jet ski.
- Turn the engine on.
- Put it in reverse.
- If the jet ski is not moving, lightly give it gas until it does.
- Back the jet ski straight up, avoiding other boaters.
- Attached jet ski to dock or safely beach it so you can park your vehicle.
How To Launch Without Reverse
There are a few jet skis without reverse or brakes, and it’s a little harder for you.
You will want to back the trailer up a little more than you normally would with a jet ski with reverse. You want the jet ski just about floating.
Unlatch all straps and rotate the jet ski around. The front of the jet ski will be at the rear, so all you do is start the engine and take off.
How To Board Your Trailer With ease
Reboarding the trailer is the opposite of launching.
The trick is knowing how far back the trailer should go. You want the bunks of the trailer to be sticking 1/3 out, as shown in the image below.
If you back too far in, you won’t have enough friction to stop the jet ski and hold it while you put the front bow strap on. If you’re not far enough in, you’ll be fighting the front strap to pull it on the trailer.
You want to approach the jet ski trailer slowly, do this by going back and forth with forward and reverse. Keep it straight down the middle between the trailer bunks, and you’ll feel the trailer catch you. Once caught, you can give it a little gas, don’t over do it, if in doubt, get off and use the front bow strap to pull the jet ski on the trailer completely.
Make sure the front bow strap is attached and locked before pulling the jet ski out.
Once out of the water, remove drain plugs.
Boarding A Jet Ski Trailer Without Reverse/Brakes
If don’t have reverse or brakes on your jet ski, it can be more tricky when boarding the trailer.
There are 3 ways you can do this:
- If the water is calm, you can idle to the trailer and slide on to the trailer.
- Right before you see waist-deep water, spin in a circle at idle speed and shut the engine off. You can then walk it to the trailer. Warning – this way is more likely to scratch the bottom hull, timing is everything.
- When 3 jet ski lengths away from the trailer, spin the jet ski in a circle at idle speed. This kills your momentum, and then point it to the trailer and slowly get on. Shut the engine off when almost touching the trailer.