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Old 07-10-2014, 01:56 PM
Roman Roman is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2014
Boat: 1991 Maristar 240 Open Bow w/ 454
Location: Michigan/Windsor
Posts: 202
So I suck at loading the boat on the trailer

So the past 3 or 4 times I've taken out my new to me boat...I've sucked hard loading it.
I pretty much have no experience, and Im scared to power load since I've seen horror pictures of damaged hulls like stress cracks.

I find my first problem is my boat is moving at an uncomfortable speed going into the trailer...then I go to idle and loose steering (cant seem to coast straight).

Last time out I had to put the trailer in so deep to load, the guide poles were 1 inch above the water line. Crazy steep ramp. also there was no dock beside so I could guide the boat is nicly which made it ever harder. Pretty sure I scratched the gelcoat a bit on the bottom from those stupid guides

So can anyone give me pointers as to how to do this properly or what to look out for and what to practice? My GF thinks she can do it better, but I wont let her since she's already a pro reversing the trailer (one shot wonder). I cant let her be amazing at this first otherwise I lose my man card! I need to figure it out first.

So ya...any and all help is greatly appreciated. Ive been lucky so far, the ramps I go to have not been busy. First time out I Let everyone watching know we were total newbies and if they saw us doing something wrong to stop us. luckily they did. The rest of the times We've been alone with friends and im just a stress case. I need to fix it.
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Old 07-10-2014, 02:01 PM
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nickespi nickespi is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2011
Boat: 2002 MasterCraft X-30
Location: South
Posts: 891
I use only ramps with docks for this exact reason. I tried two separate times to load by driving on and things went terrible both times. Never again.
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Old 07-10-2014, 02:10 PM
bochnak bochnak is offline
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Join Date: Sep 2013
Boat: 94' Prostar 205 - Indmar 5.7 TBI
Location: Mount Prospect,IL
Posts: 323
Once lined up 30-40' away, put it in neutral and coast as long as possible. Make small steering corrections and bump into gear for 1 sec and back into neutral, and coast some more. Repeat this over and over. I would say you will be in gear for 4-5 sec total over that 40' going 1-2mph.

I do this when pulling up to the shorestation. Patience is key.
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Old 07-10-2014, 02:11 PM
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thatsmrmastercraft thatsmrmastercraft is online now
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Join Date: Sep 2008
Boat: 1977 Stars & Stripes
Location: St. Paul, MN
Posts: 14,888
Operating an inboard is entirely different than an I/O or an outboard. First you need to practice boat control. Get out on the water and bring an extra throwable pfd along. Toss the throwable over and practice maneuvering around it at slow speeds forwards and backwards. Remember that the only time you have steering is when you are in gear with the prop directing water past the rudder. To go slowly forward, you need to bump the throttle in and out of gear. Less in gear time means slower speeds. Same goes for backing up. Bump it in and out of reverse.

What is your idle speed at in gear? If it's over 600 RPM you will have more problems moving slowly. adjust accordingly. The weight of your boat and the power of that big block are a lot to manage.

I was also nervous about driving on my trailer at first. You need to find the right depth for the trailer to load AND have good boat handling skills before you should try to drive on. Once you have that in hand, it is as easy as a good approach and a couple bumps of the throttle and you are on.

Most people have problems putting their boat on their trailer, the problem is normally that the trailer is too deep. Pay attention how deep you are putting your trailer in when launching your boat. It doesn't need to be near as deep to load it.

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Old 07-10-2014, 02:12 PM
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Join Date: Aug 2009
Boat: 1994 Falcon
Location: Southwest
Posts: 183
The one suggestion I have is that you line up to the trailer from a pretty good distance if you are new. Then as you head straight line toward the trailer kick it in and out of gear to go slower. If you do that the boat will travel straight when out of gear. The one thing that is still hard for my wife is that she turns the wheel too much when coming in. It does not take that much to start moving the boat around and once you start it is hard to go straight. Also not sure on your boat but for me trailer depth is vital. I have the very front of my tandem axle fender out of the water. Just barely out of the water. that way when I am coming in the pole will actually guide me if needed. Once the nose is a few feet form the back of the trailer and you are going straight kill the throttle and let it float the rest of the way. Get out and winch it on and drive away.
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Old 07-10-2014, 02:13 PM
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Kweisner Kweisner is offline
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Join Date: Oct 2012
Boat: 2007 Prostar 197
Location: Southeast
Posts: 432
Start with a good line up to the trailer, then in and out of forward gear as you ease toward the trailer--I usually am in gear only 1-2 seconds at a time then back to neutral. You will not pick up too much speed this way. Remember your steering does not work when you are in neutral. Only turn the wheel while in gear and try to use small movements, otherwise you end up swinging the back of the boat all over.

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"This one goes to eleven." 2007 ProStar 197 TT w/MCX and Powerslot.
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Old 07-10-2014, 02:16 PM
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FoggyNogginz FoggyNogginz is offline
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Join Date: Aug 2006
Boat: 1998 PS205, then a 2002 X9, and now a 2012 X14V
Location: Center Hill Lake & Old Hickory
Posts: 704
I find that trailer depth is one of the most important things when it comes to driving onto the trailer. As a rule of thumb, I suggest that too shallow of a trailer depth is better than too deep when it comes to positioning the boat, and that using the winch strap for the final two feet is a perfectly fine practice for any beginner, or for anyone under windy/choppy conditions. If the trailer is too far into the water, then your boat will slide left, right, or right up into your truck perhaps. If the bunks are too shallow, then they will stop you from pulling the boat all the way onto the trailer without backing in a few more inches, but this is still safer for your boat, your truck and your passengers. Getting the trailer depth correct will also vary with the pitch of the ramp, and the height of your tow ball...so this takes some practice at each unique ramp and with each tow vehicle.

Understanding that reverse in these boats will always pull your stern out to the direction of prop rotation is also key. So you want to approach slowly without using reverse if at all possible. In order to do this, many drivers will use a pattern of taking the boat in and out of gear in short segments to produce a "slower idle" or slower approach speed without using reverse. Once the boat begins to touch the bunks, take the boat out of gear and let it "settle" (i.e. stop moving from side to side) on the trailer. The you can put the boat back into gear and move as far up the bunks as you are comfortable with before securing the boat with the winch strap.

Here is a video demonstrating some of this from a stern drive boat: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iy8JOJgOVRE

I hope this helps, and I find that patience, sobriety, and caution are actually the best attributes that anyone can have at the boat ramp. Congratulations to you for taking this seriously. Enjoy your summer!


Cmon...lemme just push one button...
- Red X14V on Center Hill & Old Hickory lakes in TN -

Last edited by FoggyNogginz; 07-10-2014 at 02:33 PM.
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Old 07-10-2014, 02:21 PM
MasterCraft 4 Ever MasterCraft 4 Ever is offline
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Join Date: Oct 2013
Boat: 1988 MasterCraft Tristar 190
Location: Midwest
Posts: 27
I'm fairly new at inboard boats myself so if your girlfriend is better then let her do it. You can learn from her before trashing your boat. Near me it's $100 an hour to fix gel coat. Besides if she feels like part of the boat team then it is easier to justify keeping it and buying new stuff for the boat. Happy wife=happy life...sucks if they seem to be better then us at some things but learn from her before the "I told you so"! comment pops out. Totally understand the man card thing though.
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Old 07-10-2014, 02:24 PM
DBrown2 DBrown2 is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2007
Boat: 2005 MC X Star, PP
Location: Southeast
Posts: 538
Typically I watch for the front most Runners to just go under water, then tell the driver to stop...
I do as above... the slow bump in gear method... then once the boat nose goes between guides I bump it one more time. Once it stops, I ask the drive to back up more... like a foot or so... then I drive it up more waiting for the click... if no click I just use the winch to pull it up the rest of the way.

That's Mr. Mastercraft has good suggestion on Tossing out something on open water... I also suggest practice coming into docks (Friends Waiting on Dock) from both sides... front and back... This gives you a good idea of how the boat will maneuver.

Lastly Note how far your Nose is from the back of your Tow Vehicle.. .this will also help with powering up the trailer...

Remember its Nice Quick Bumps... Not Power Bumps
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Old 07-10-2014, 02:37 PM
icewake icewake is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2007
Boat: 94 Prostar 205
Location: Guntersville Lake
Posts: 249
I come into the trailer at approximately a 30 degree angle and aim for inside of the left guide pole. Once i get about 5-6 feet out I put it in reverse (most of the time its just a quick tap into reverse) just enough for the back end to kick to the right. This does two things 1)provides better control for slowing me down 2)kicks the back end around so now im perfectly lined up with the trailer. At this point my speed is almost zero and I am also lined up. I then pop it in gear for a second and it will guide me nicely onto the trailer. The only time this method does not work perfect is if the wind is blowing right to left if looking from boat to trailer.
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