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It’s been a great day on the water, now it’s time to load up and head home. Follow this quick guide to make the loading process smooth and leave your boat ready for the next memory-making day on the water.


Like many things with your new Malibu, loading the boat is all about taking things slow. It can be easy to get in a rush when there are other boats waiting, but at the end of the day you need to work at your own pace, and don’t hesitate to back up and try again if things aren’t lining up. And remember, never put yourself between the boat and the trailer.

“Go Home” Button

When you’re done for the day, Malibu makes it incredibly simple to prepare the boat to cruise down the lake. Just hit the “go home” button on the Malibu Command Center and it automatically drains the ballast, disengages cruise control and Surf Gate, and stows Power Wedge III. Now it’s time to head to the ramp.

At the Ramp

When you reach the ramp, you can either dock or beach the boat in the sand while you back the tow vehicle and trailer into the water, or drop off a passenger to get the trailer while you wait in the boat. Prep the boat by pulling in any fenders and swiveling board racks back into the boat.

Backing In

Being mindful of your surroundings and using a spotter to help, back the tow vehicle and trailer into the water to the same depth you launched at. If your Malibu trailer is equipped with a depth alarm, it will tell you with an audible sound you can hear in the truck when the trailer is at perfect loading depth as well. If not, backing the trailer in until the front of the bunks are at the waterline is a good rule of thumb for most Malibu trailers. Try to back the trailer in as straight as possible, keeping your windows down and your radio off so you can hear any instructions your spotters might have. Put the vehicle in park and set the parking brake.

Watch Now

The Truth to Boating: Getting Home From The Lake

Loading Up
Slowly drive the boat onto the trailer, keeping it between the two vertical guides with the bow pointed at the trailer’s bow roller. Give the boat small bursts of forward movement, returning the throttle to neutral between each burst, and don’t hesitate to give small reverse bursts if you’re coming in too fast. Turn the wheel in very small movements to steer without overcorrecting. On some Malibu models, you can use the forward camera to see where the bow is in relation to the trailer, making loading much easier.
Stern Turn
If your boat is equipped with Stern Turn, loading is a breeze because you can boost the back of the boat in either direction with the touch of a button at the throttle. Especially in wind and currents, Stern Turn can be a life saver.

Hook It Up

When the bow eye is close to the trailer’s bow roller, fasten the hook to the boat’s bow eye and reverse the winch direction. Slowly winch the boat onto the trailer until the bow eye meets the trailer’s bow roller on the winch stand.[CSK1]  Connect the trailer’s emergency chain (if equipped) to the bow eye and you’re ready to pull the boat out.

Pull It Out

It’s never a bad idea to put the tow vehicle in four-wheel drive at this point, especially if the ramp is slick or steep. Release the parking brake with your foot on the brake, shift into drive and slowly ease the rig out of the water.

Ready for the Road

If there’s space available, move the boat and trailer out of the way so others can use the ramp. Unscrew the drain plugs, stow your gear, turn the batteries off and reattach the transom straps. Double check that the coupler is securely locked onto the ball, safety chains are attached and the electronics are plugged in and you’re ready to roll.

Wide Right Turns

Particularly on right turns, you’re going to want to swing much farther out so the trailer doesn’t clip the curb. Don’t rush things when you’re pulling out into traffic. Wait for the right time and pull into the second lane on right turns so the trailer doesn’t hit the curb. Swing wide on every turn, but especially right turns.

Watch your Blind Spots

It’s not uncommon to drive five to ten miles per hour below the speed limit while towing a boat, particularly on the highway. Keep an eye on your blind spots and drive defensively and you shouldn’t have any trouble.

Backing Up

Everything is opposite when you back up a trailer. Try this trick: Put your hand on the bottom of the steering wheel instead of the top. Whatever direction that hand goes, the trailer will turn behind you.

Park It and Prep It

When you reach your destination, it’s time to prep the boat for storage. Set the seats on edge so the cushions dry out and clear out any drinks and snacks. Double check that the batteries are in the off position and cover the boat, making sure to connect all the Velcro and ratchet down the rear straps. Back the boat into its storage position and set the trailer brake or use chocks to block the tires.

Unhook It

To unhook the tow vehicle, disengage the coupler, disconnect the safety chains, unplug the electric and raise the tongue using the jack until the coupler is just above the trailer hitch ball. And that’s it! Your Malibu is ready for the next time you want to make memories on the lake.

Refer back to this guide as many times as you need to and remember to take things slow. You’ll be a pro in no time. Welcome to the Malibu family!

Malibu Boats Docking/Trailer Camera

Malibu Innovation

Docking/Trailer Camera

Malibu's award-winning Docking/Trailer Camera let you take the guess work out. Optioned with this bow camera, you can see where your boat is in relation to the trailer so you can load up on the first try.

Miss Part 4 to The Truth To Boating? Check out how to dock your boat here.

*This document is meant as a guide. Always check state and local regulations as well as U.S. Coast Guard regulations for specific boating rules and regulations. Areas and conditions can be unique so it’s best to check ahead of time. 

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