5 Essential Tips for Trailering a Pontoon Boat

Trailering a pontoon boat can be intimidating the first few times you do it, and you’re likely to end up with a few dings and bends on the boat or trailer if you aren’t careful.  I’ve learned the following tips mostly the hard way, so I hope they are helpful for you as you learn to trailer your toon.

#1: Don’t trailer in high winds

We’ve all made the mistake of staying out on the water a little too long and not getting out of the lake when nasty weather comes.

One of the first times I was out in my brand new G3 Pontoon boat, I saw a storm approaching but took a few extra spins on the lake before heading for the dock–thinking I could beat the storm.

I learned the hard way that pontoon boats turn into huge sails when the winds are up.  The large fencing around the boat makes it difficult to navigate against the wind.  In the end, it took 6 men to push the boat into position and get it on the trailer.

#2: Get a dock hook

A dock hook is a long telescoping rod with a hook on the end that boaters can use to grab dock cleats and pull the back end of the boat into position when the wind is pushing against you.

A dock hook is not expensive on Amazon, and can save you a lot of headache.

#3: Don’t pull the trailer in too deep

One of the biggest problems I had when learning to trailer my toon was pulling the trailer in too deep into the water.  When you do this, the boat is still floating, so even if you pull straight onto the trailer, the winds push the back of the boat off to the side since the back is still floating.

Just pull the trailer in deep enough that the tops of the wheel wells are barely under and you’ll have much better results.

The best method I’ve found is to pull the trailer back until the wheel wells are wet, and bring up the front of the boat.  Then, have the driver of the truck go slightly deeper, and you can then drive the boat the rest of the way up the trailer.

#4: Use the dock as a drift break

If you have winds or waves pushing the boat which makes trailering tough, have your truck driver put the trailer up close to the downwind side of the dock.  By doing this, the dock will break some of the wind and waves from pushing the boat.  Also, you can use your dock hook to pull the back over to the dock and keep it from drifting.

#5: Get everyone off the boat, or at least the front of the boat

Having weight in the front of the boat makes getting the pontoon boat on the trailer a lot more difficult.  You’re driving the boat onto the trailer, so additional weight means you need to use more thrust on the engine to get up the trailer.

Also, having passengers in the boat obstructs your view of the trailer to make sure you’re on straight.

I usually let everyone off the boat and then get the pontoon on the trailer myself to avoid this problem.


  1. We just recently got a pontoon and I’m trying to learn how to trailer it. You’re right, it can be a little intimidating! I’ve noticed that I want to put the trailer deep in the water so I’ll be sure to be more careful with that. Thanks for sharing this information.

  2. I have had a pontoon for years and the only comment I have is on #3. You are correct, you do not want the trailer in too deep because the boat will float; however, you don’t want it too shallow because thrusting to drive on the trailer can shear off the winch or bend the support. So, back your trailer all the way in the water to ensure all of the bunk rails are wet. Wet carpet is allows the pontoons to slide easier. Then pull the trailer out of the water about a 1/3 of the way. Usually if you have walk in approx 12-18 inches water to stand on the trailer, you have it right (I wear rubber boots for this portion). Slightly raise the motor to lift the boat and drive on the trailer. It will glide easier than you think so be careful. I try stop 2-3 feet from the winch but sometimes a stop 2-3 inches from the winch. Then simply winch the boat up the rest of the way. Very important to have all the carpet wet to prevent tearing and prolong your boat. Email me for other hints.

  3. I loved your tip to get a dock hook to help align the boat to the dock. Getting the extra assistance when you have limited mobility is really helpful. If possible, practicing using it before you actually need to would be helpful.

  4. Pingback: The Complete List of Tips for Towing Any Boat to Any Destination | BetterBoat Boating Blog

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