How To Launch And Reload A Jet Ski From A Trailer (Video)

Flying through the water on a jet ski is just about as much fun as you can have! But before you get to the fun part you’ll need to launch your jet ski into the water from its trailer, and once you’re done you’ll need to load it up onto the trailer again.

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In this article, and accompanying videos, we’ll safely show you how to launch a jet ski from a trailer, and once you’re done for the day, how to load a jet ski on a trailer using step-by-step instructions.

How to Launch a Jet Ski From a Trailer

Launching a jet ski into the water from a trailer is not as difficult as it may seem at first. With a little bit of preparation, and ideally a buddy to help you out, you’ll be out on the water in no time.

How to Launch a PWC from a trailer

Unloading your Jet Ski (Step-by-Step)

  1. When you arrive at your destination, park in the rigging area away from the boat ramp area so you can take your time getting your craft ready to go.
  2. This is a great time to put your life jacket on so you don’t forget it.
  3. Take a quick walk around your jet ski to make sure that everything appears in good shape and that nothing has come loose during transportation.
  4. Remove the safety strap from the back of your personal watercraft (PWC) and make sure that the “bungs” or drain plugs have been put back on your craft, and they are tight.
  5. Either disconnect the power cable between your car and trailer or make sure they are secured high enough to avoid them going into the water while connected.
  6. Start the jet ski’s engine for a quick second or two in order to make sure you are good to go before you hit the boat launch ramp.
  7. It’s now time to get in the line of tow vehicles (if any) at the ramp waiting to launch their watercraft.
  8. Back your trailer down the boat ramp and into the water until the rear of your jet ski starts to float.
  9. Put your towing vehicle in drive with the safety break on. Hop out or get your friend to remove the safety chain and release the winch line.
  10. You can now push the jet ski off the trailer. Step-up onto the PWC before the water gets too deep and let the craft float out a to a point where the water is at least 3 feet deep.
  11. Once your out on deep enough water, sitting on your craft, you can start the PWC and gently head back in towards the shore or dock. Make sure to shut off the engine when the water is less than three feet deep and coast back into shore. If the engine is running in less than 3 ft of water, you run the risk of sucking sand or rocks into the impeller damaging your equipment.
  12. If you haven’t quite made it to shore all the way, hop off the jet ski and drag it up until it’s secure.
  13. Get back in your vehicle (or have your friend do it) and drive the car and trailer up off the ramp and park it in the staging area.

Congratulations, you’ve just launched you jet ski! Have a fun time in the water!

How to Load a Jet Ski On A Trailer

You’ve just had an amazing time out on the water but your day isn’t entirely over until you reload the craft on its PWC trailer. Proper reloading is essential to ensure you have a safe ride home and prevent damage to your craft.

Reloading you jet ski onto a trailer.

Loading Jet Ski On A Trailer (Step-by-Step)

  1. Secure your jet ski safely next to the dock or on the beach. Head back to your car and inspect the trailer to make sure the hitch is firmly attached to the tow vehicle. (Alternatively, you can wait on your PWC while your buddy gets the car and trailer).
  2. Before backing down the ramp, again disconnect any power cables between the trailer and your tow vehicle or secure them.
  3. Slowly back down the boat ramp. Some of the larger boat ramps allow for two vehicles at a time; in that case, use only one side of the ramp to allow other users space. 
  4. Confirm that the banks on the trailer are in the proper position, and then flip the lever on the winch to the unlocked position, so the winch straps are accessible.
  5. Back the trailer into the water until the carpeted bunks are mostly submerged. (Depending on how steep the ramp is, don’t let the water level get above the wheel bearings on the tire of the tow vehicle. Also, to prevent water from getting into the exhaust pipe, leave the engine running).
  6. Use the parking brake on the tow vehicle for safety while you or an assistant loads the PWC onto the trailer. Ideally, the driver should stay in the vehicle in case of an issue while on the ramp with the engine running.
  7. Drive the jet ski carefully onto the trailer (if you’re new to this process it’s better to attach the winch cable to the craft and winch the PWC aboard by hand), adequately align the bow when moving it onto the bunks, and hook it to the trailer.
  8. It is essential to have two people loading up a PWC because, at some point, you will have to get off of it to hook up its front to the trailer. And if the ramp is very steep, the craft will slide back when you get off.
  9. To hook up the PWC, remove the winch strap and put it through two metal parts where a roller is connected. Pass the winch strap under these rollers to hook it in place for safe towing.
  10. Winch straps have a safety hook that should be set in place, and you can pull the jet ski further onto the trailer and tighten the winch straps using the lever. Make sure at this point to reattach the safety chain.
  11. Once the jet ski is safely attached, drive back up the ramp and once again pull into the staging area.
  12. Start the jet ski’s engine and give it a couple quick revs to clear out any water from the exhaust before turning it off.
  13. Remove the drain plugs (bungs) at the back of the craft and hook the safety strap around the back of the watercraft.
  14. Once again, walk around the craft to double check that it is securely attached to the trailer.
  15. Make sure to reconnect the power cord between the vehicle and trailer (if disconnected), and double check that your trailer lights are working properly. Also, make sure that no gear is sitting loose on top of the PWC.
  16. You’re now ready to head home. It’s a good idea after driving for a few minutes to stop again and check to make sure that everything is tight and secure as the jet ski will tend to shift on the trailer a bit when you first begin driving.

You did it! Your jet ski is now safely loaded onto your trailer. When you get home, it’s always a good idea to hose the PWC and trailer off to remove any loose road grime or contaminants.

How to Back Up a Jet Ski Trailer

Probably the thing that strikes the most fear into the heart of new PWC owners is process of backing up their jet ski trailer. This is especially true if the marina and boat launch is crowded. Here are some guidelines to follow for how to back up a jet ski trailer.

  • Practice – Before taking your jet ski out for the first time, visit an empty parking lot and practice backing up. This will save you a lot of frustration when the time comes to back down a crowded ramp.
  • Take it slow – When you’re doing anything with a trailer (especially backing up) go slow. Trying to back up quickly is a problem because any little mistake in direction can go bad quickly if you’re moving too fast.
  • Make small steering adjustments – By making small steering direction changes you can see the effect by watching the trailer and correcting if necessary.
  • Get some help – When backing up a PWC trailer, it helps to have a friend behind you guiding your direction. A helper can also spot problems or obstacles long before they cause an issue.
  • Open the hatchback – By opening the hatch back on an SUV or dropping the tailgate on a truck before you back up, you will be able to get a better view of the trailer (especially when it’s empty).

Backing up a jet ski trailer is no different from backing up any other trailer, aside from one thing. Because a jet ski trailer is very short, it is quite possible that you won’t be able to see the trailer (especially when empty) from either your review or side view mirrors.

You can use the method mentioned above (opening the hatchback or tailgate) or you can pick up a trailer post guide like this one at Amazon. This will help show you which direction the trailer is turning even if you can’t see it clearly.

How to back up a boat trailer like a pro!

Final Thoughts

One of the great things about jet skiing is that it’s easy and fun to do for experts and beginners alike. Now that you know how to launch and reload your jet ski on a trailer, you’ll be ready to quickly hit the water any time the notion strikes. Have a blast!

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