My neighbor has asked me to pull their pontoon boat out of the lake to store for winter. However, this particular boat has been beached, so much so that I cannot push it back in to the water which I need to do before I can store it.

I'd like get it out of the lake before the lake freezes and potentially damages the boat and the boat ramp is on the other side of the lake.

What are some tips on the best/easiest way to get the boat back in to the water?.....aside from the obvious, pull with rope from another boat and push from shore?

Update: I took a picture of the boat, it's worse than I thought. Unfortunately there is no easy way to get to the beach where it stuck, with any equipment, due to a large hill. I do not have a lot of manpower available, just 2-3 guys.

Thanks.Beached Boat

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    If it is beached then it is out of the lake. Tie it off and wait for water to rise.
    – paparazzo
    Commented Oct 12, 2017 at 19:22
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    I'm trying to get the boat in to the water, so that it can be towed to the boat ramp on the other side of the lake to be stored for winter. I cannot wait until the water rises, since the lake will freeze before then. I wish I knew why the let it get beached. Thanks!
    – Tom
    Commented Oct 13, 2017 at 12:14
  • Who owns the beach the is sitting on? Commented Oct 13, 2017 at 17:01
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    I I reached out the community and the community and mother nature answered! We had record rain on Saturday (6 inches!) which raised the lake quite a bit. So we were able to get the boat in the lake with a couple of poles to pry it. As one cannot count on record rain to help if you find yourself in this situation, I'll accept Erik's answer as it had the most +1's.
    – Tom
    Commented Oct 16, 2017 at 11:12
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    Saw this late however ill just put it out there: there are inflatable rollers to do that, you simply dig a channel in the sand to slide the deflated rollers under the pontoons and proceed to inflate them and move the boat. You could see them being used sometimes to free full keel boats from the sand when one takes advantage of low tide to pull the boat on dry land or to move them where maintenance can be performed. You can often dig a channel big enough using water at moderately high pressure Commented Oct 16, 2017 at 13:36

5 Answers 5


What constitutes “best and easiest?” I suspect you don’t want to pay for a proper boat lift to drive down to the beach and pick up the boat. If feasible that would be the best safety wise and easiest in terms of physical effort.

I once watched a crew of Peruvian fishermen pull a beached fishing trawler all the way onto the shore. Like you suggested in your question with enough bodies pushing or pulling you could move the boat anywhere you want.

If you don’t have the manpower and have plenty of time you can trench around and under the pontoons. Once the trenches are deep enough you can flood them and float the boat out. Depending on what lake this is and the regulations you might get in trouble for enacting your engineering project.

Another option that might work is to load up the back end to try to lift the nose. Depending on the slope of the beach you might be able to swamp the back of the boat enough to get the nose free. Of course you might screw up systems that weren’t designed to be submerged or grind the back end of the pontoons against the lake bed causing damage and/or increased resistance.

One final option would be to put a couple of old tires between one or both pontoons and the front bumper of your pickup truck. The tires will hopefully protect the boat and the truck as you use the truck to push the boat back in the water.

After the most recent edit showed that some of my hare-brained schemes wouldn't work I cooked up another. What you can do is get a tall jack like a Hi-Lift that you can attach a sling to wrap around a pontoon. Additionally get a bunch of 4 inch ABS pipe (the black plastic pipe) that is cut to extend about 4 inches on each side of a single pontoon (roughly 16 to 20 inches). The idea is you jack up the boat and stick pipes under the pontoon. If the pipes will roll then it will be easy to push the boat into the water. If the pipes don't roll then it will offer a low friction surface that will make it easier than fighting the mud.

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    My only addition to this answer would be to use another boat for added and continuous pulling power. If you have a lowered friction and start moving its better to keep it going and create some momentum.
    – HTDutchy
    Commented Oct 19, 2017 at 13:53

I am looking at this using techniques from a 4x4 recovery.

My approach with just a few men would be a hilift jack (you would probably need two) and rollers. The boat has a great point for the jack to access on the lower gunnel. Lift one side, insert rollers and do the same on the other.

Another option would be to row out with a decent size anchor, and use a winch to pull the boat back. Again, a high-lift jack can be used as a winch with appropriate chains or wire (rope would be too stretchy).

Its possible to 'walk' hilift jacks - jack the boat (you would be needing 4 jacks), and push the boat backwards off the jacks.

Note the jacks would need large base plates to prevent them sinking into the mud.

Note2: Hilift jacks are dangerous, the above suggestions come with real risk of property damage or personal injury if not done properly.

Based on this, I would arrive at the boat with at least 2 hilift jacks, a big anchor (if it does not have one already), winch and wire strops, base plates (500x500mm), rollers and a couple of lengths of 4x2 (100x50mm) timber.


Yell at some of the fisher boys on or near the beach. Tell them you need the boat in the water. They will be down with palm log rollers & have you in the water in 10 minutes. Give them some money for this. Same as removing boat from water.

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    The principle set forth in this answer is valid. Find some teenagers, maybe your own? But it will cost you more than a dollar!
    – ab2
    Commented Oct 13, 2017 at 0:02

Doesn't anyone understand multi-purchase block and tackle setups? That stuff is bread and butter to sailors.

Learn a couple of rope tricks; it can get you out of a mess.

If it's stuck, sucked tight in sand or mud, don't give big jerks; that could pull it apart. Place tree limb pieces 2ft long under pontoons and ahead of it to slide it.

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    Can you be more constructive and specific, please?
    – Martin F
    Commented Nov 23, 2023 at 17:27
  • Your answer could be improved with additional supporting information. Please edit to add further details, such as citations or documentation, so that others can confirm that your answer is correct. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center.
    – Community Bot
    Commented Nov 23, 2023 at 17:27

Even 350 HP ski boat would not be able to pull that out.

Dig it out with a shovel would be a lot of work.

This is a task for a commercial salvage company.

Or put like 30 people on it. 2-3 is not going to do it.

It is far enough out that a frozen lake is not going to hurt it.

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