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Power loading damages boat ramps!

What is power loading

Power loading is when a boater uses the power of the boat motor to load and unload a boat onto and off of a trailer. This action can erode sediment and dig large and hazardous holes at the base of the ramp while also pushing eroded sediment into a mound a little farther out.

Boating tip: Power loading can damage your boat, motor and trailer, as well as the boat ramp.

illustration of boat causing deep mounds

The impacts:

  • Trailer tires can get stuck in the holes that are created. When this happens, a tow truck may be the only option to retrieve the trailer and vehicle attached to it.
  • The boat or lower unit can run aground on the mound.
  • Boats and equipment can incur costly damage.
  • In extreme cases, the end of the launch ramp can collapse, leaving it unusable and causing the access to be closed.
  • The mounds caused by using engine power can result in a barrier for both launching and loading.
  • Repairs by DNR crews are costly and can cause temporary closures until repairs can be funded and take place.

Before launching your boat:

  • Check the ramp: Look for uneven surfaces at the end of the ramp, especially during low water levels. These can be deep holes caused by engine use, which can trap trailer tires, and sediment mounds that might ground your boat. For a smoother launch, consider using a hand dolly or your trailer winch.
  • Winch, don't race: Avoid using high engine power to load or unload. Use your winch and maintain a slow, controlled speed – slightly above idle should suffice. This prevents erosion and keeps the ramp safe for everyone.
  • Float, don't submerge: Back your trailer in just enough for the boat to start floating. You don't need to submerge the entire trailer. This makes loading and unloading easier and avoids unnecessary strain on your vehicle.