I want to launch a 12-foot aluminum boat at an off-road location.

I previously launched the boat/trailer at this location by attaching the tongue of the trailer to a 4-wheeled dolly (link 1 & link 2).

  1. Launching into the water (the easy part): Push the boat/trailer/dolly down the beach by hand. The trailer goes about two feet deep into the water. When in the water, push the boat off of the trailer and drag the trailer back up onto the beach.
  2. Retrieving the boat (the cumbersome part): Push the empty trailer (with dolly) into the water. Winch the boat onto the trailer and strap it to the trailer. Back the truck (4x4 1500 Silverado) up to the top of the hill. Use the trailer winch and a rope to winch the trailer/boat/dolly up to the truck (done in two steps since the winch only reaches halfway to the truck; hence the rope extension). At this point, with the trailer winched close to the truck, there is a lot of tension on the winch cable due to the incline. So, rather than try to wrestle the trailer onto the hitch ball, I drive the truck/trailer/dolly up the incline onto flatter ground. Then I attach the trailer to the truck.

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That works OK. But step #2 is a lot of work after a long day on the water.

Is there an easier way to retrieve the boat at this off-road location?


I haven't found this kind of thing for sale in Canada.

  • 1
    If I were to back the truck right down to the water, I assume I'd get stuck, even with four-wheel drive. The trailer is rather tall and doesn't have pivoting rollers, so the trailer needs to be two feet deep in the water in order to get the boat onto the trailer. That means the truck would need to be positioned on the loose pebbles, possibly partially in the water. I don't think there'd be any traction on loose, wet pebbles, so I think the truck would get stuck.
    – User1974
    Commented Jul 4, 2023 at 2:20
  • 3
    A) If you take off the outboard motor first, can two people carry the boat up the beach? or B) once you have the boat on the trailer can you simply tow it up the beach and the slope with a long tow rope? I looks as though there is a straight run back from the top of the ramp. Commented Jul 4, 2023 at 13:49
  • 1
    The trailer winch is designed for the force and length to pull the boat onto the trailer, and it is likely overloaded for pulling the boat and trailer up the beach/landing. Would a car winch do the job? A 5000# winch might be able to handle the job in one step and could also pull your truck out of most situations.
    – Dave X
    Commented Jul 24, 2023 at 4:49
  • @WeatherVane A) Unfortunately, I don't have someone with me when using the boat to help carry it. B) I like the idea of towing with a long rope. The only issue might be that I wouldn't be able to see the trailer/boat from up on top of the slope in the truck. So if the trailer/boat were to tip over or catch on something, I wouldn't see it and possibly damage the boat or trailer by dragging it into the embankment, etc.
    – User1974
    Commented Feb 19 at 1:59
  • 1
    @WeatherVane Your tow rope idea worked well. Thanks! I posted it as an answer.
    – User1974
    Commented Jun 2 at 19:36

2 Answers 2


@WeatherVane's comment from Jul 4, 2023, ended up working well:

B) Once you have the boat on the trailer, can you simply tow it up the beach and the slope with a long tow rope? It looks as though there is a straight run back from the top of the ramp.

I was able to use a 50 ft rope to easily tow the trailer and boat up the slope, with the dolly attached to the front of the trailer.


There's "dinghy wheels" which are swing-down wheels attached to the rear transom of the vessel; they may make it easier to manhandle the boat into a better position to get it onto the trailer.

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