How to Load a Drift Boat. Guide to Trailering a Drift Boat


Loading a drift boat on trailer

Drift boats are becoming a very popular inland fishing and river riding vessel. Drift boats are easy to maneuver on the water and offer many benefits that other boats don’t can’t. However, due to the unique hull shape of a drift boat many people wonder how to load the boat on a trailer. Here we will show you how to do that.

How do you load a drift boat? There are 2 ways to load a drift boat onto a trailer. Wet loading and dry loading. Start by backing your boat trailer into the water until it is fully submerged. Float the boat onto the trailer by pulling it with a line. Alternatively, back the trailer up to the edge of water without getting the tires wet. Haul the boat onto the trailer with a winch or line.

Steps for loading a drift boat

There are 2 ways to load a drift boat onto your trailer.

  1. Wet loading.
  2. Dry loading.

Wet loading is the most common form of loading for most boat types because their size and hull designs don’t allow them to be hauled over surfaces or loaded without the aid of water – image a v-hull boat being pulled onto a trailer for example, not only would you damage the bottom of the boat as all the weight is concentrated on a small area but the boat would also keel over as it balances on the small area.

Because a drift boat has a flat bottom it is perfectly fine to haul it onto a trailer and so wet loading is unnecessary. The flat bottom means you can safely haul the boat onto the trailer without the need for water. In fact many drift boat owners actually haul their boats over dirt and up muddy banks before loading their boat onto the trailer.

However, many drift owners prefer the wet loading process and so I have included it here.

Wet loading process

Start by backing your boat trailer into the water.

Many people will back the trailer so far that their tow vehicle’s wheels almost reach the water’s edge or even get wet. This will totally submerges the boat trailer in the water.

Once your tow vehicle is in position you should put the emergency brake on. For extra safety you can put some chocks behind the wheels to keep the vehicle from being pulled back. However, this is usually unnecessary with a drift boat as they are very light watercraft.

When the trailer is submerged the bunks and/or the rollers should be completely wet.

In this position you can simply push or pull the boat into position and float it up onto the trailer.

Then simply secure your boat and drive it to the post-launch area, if there is one.

Once you reach the post launch area ensure you unload all your equipment from your boat and reattach the wiring from your trailer to your vehicle.

You are now ready to head home.

Dry loading process

This is a much more common way of loading a drift.

Just as it is perfectly acceptable to launch a drift boat from dry land it is equally okay to load it the same way without having to back your trailer into water.

With a dry load you can actually pull the boat out of the water onto the dirt and winch it or pull it up with a line onto the trailer.

However, a better way is to back your trailer close the water’s edge and pull the boat up onto the trailer with a winch or rope. This is easier if you have rollers on the trailer to assist in moving the boat.

As with wet loading you now need to secure the boat and reattach the wiring on the trailer to your tow vehicle so the brake lights and blinkers work.

How far should you back the trailer?

A common question for new drift boat owners is how far they need to submerge their trailers in order to safely load their drift boat?

If you have ever watched someone loading a boat you may have seen them totally submerge the trailer in the water. Most boat owners will back up so far that their tow vehicles back wheels enter the water.

But, does a trailer really need to be under water to successfully load a drift boat? No it doesn’t! A drift boat can be loaded without the trailer wheels even getting wet.

The truth is that the wheel bearings on your trailer will last a lot longer if you keep them out of the water.

Many ramps will have drop offs or sand build up to help launch and load the boat. In places with these you should never back the trailer so far up that the tires are completely submerged. It is easy to pull a drift boat up onto the trailer in those places.

In fact you don’t even need to get the tires wet if you are loading on a ramp or if your trailer has rollers. A little practice and you will see how easy it is to load a drift boat while keeping your trailer completely dry.

Having said that, you should just launch and load your drift boat in whatever way makes you feel comfortable whether that be by wet loading or dry loading.

You can see below how these guys are launching their drift boat without having to get the trailer tires wet. To load you simply reverse the process.

Loading a drift boat is a crosswind or current

Although a drift boat can handle some pretty rough water most flat bottom boat owners will head for shore when the wind picks up and the weather turns bad. High crosswinds and very strong currents and flat bottom boats don;t play well together.

So if the weather turns bad you want to head for home how do you load a drift boat in those high crosswinds and strong currents that are pushing your boat to the side?

In this case you will always want to execute a wet loading process. So, submerge your trailer in the water.

Make sure you sink the bunks or the rollers to at just the minimal depth necessary to float the bow of your boat onto the back end.

You should ensure the the tops of the bunks or rollers are not submerged in the water. This way they can act as a type of brake and thus keep the your drift boat from overshooting.

Point the boat in that same direction as the wind or the current i.e. head into the wind or current.

If you have an outboard motor match the speed of the current so you get the boat at a standstill, remaining in one position.

With the trailer to the side of you have the bow tip slightly down stream of the trailer.

Throttle up your speed so the boat is moving at a very slow pace while turning into the trailer. Allow the bunks to grab the bow and keep your speed at a steady pace that is just fast enough to give you control and you will slide onto the trailer.

If your drift boat is not fitted with an outboard motor then you need to attach a bow line and a stern line. Make sure the trailer is submerged in the water. However, make sure the trailer isn’t too deep in the water or you may find your boat drifts over the bunks and goes sideways.

The stern and bow lines will give you complete control over the boat’s trajectory and you can simply walk the boat onto the trailer.

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