Any recommendations or less busy launches or docks available so that I don't hold up or piss off other boaters? I'm just trying to be respectful prior to heading out.
Boat Launches for Beginners
The first lesson I got backing trailers was with semis for UPS. My teacher said to pull towards the loading dock at an angle, then pull straight away from the target to line it up before backing up. Hopefully, little correction is needed to back straight to the target. Lots of good advice from previous posts here but opening up the back of the truck and looking backwards works best for my rig. The pic shows what my parking mentor was talking about.
Also, remember when you load back onto the trailer, pull out of the way of the launch before you stop to secure the straps, pull the plug, stow your gear.
There might not be anyone waiting to launch at the moment, but sure as heck they will show up if you stop on the launch to do it.
I use mirrors, just easier for me. I start with finding the "sweet spot" which i define as going STRAIGHT back and position my left hand for max control ( 12-1:00). Start backing from there making subtle adjustments.
The longer the distance from ball to trailer wheels the easier it is. Adjustments are also less severe, meaning a short trailer is going to react MUCH quicker to steering adjustments. Find an empty parking lot and practice backing the boat into parking spots.
My vehicle, and most vehicles for that matter, have a backup camera. That's super confusing backup up with that! I have a Jeep Cherokee and I usually just lift the tailgate and look out the back. I can back it up into some pretty tight spaces (my boat that is, my ATV trailer is a completely different story!). It's interesting how different trailers turn when you turn the wheel. My boat trailer turns right away when I turn the wheel. The ATV trailer has a couple second lull to it, so it's real easy to over steer!
I barely use my mirrors. I only use them as a check for clearance on each side. I’m much more comfortable turning around and watching through a rear window. Growing up on a farm backing things up with older tractors that did not have mirrors developed a type of sixth sense with this type of thing. After being pressured to get hay wagons backed into a barn in the dark with limited lighting because storms are approaching makes getting a boat trailer backed up a breeze,
Goju, That makes total sense. If you’ve done it forever, you just feel it. But if you have a tough time sometimes, go with goju’s recommendation. Good stuff
Using side mirrors is a must. The rest of the tips on hand-placement, which way to do what-ever....confusing.
Use your side mirrors and practice in an empty parking lot....
Some people can't learn to back up a trailer though. My neighbor had to sell his new boat because he couldn't learn to back it to a launch or back into his garage. Saw him try for 2 hours to get his boat back up into his garage. He just couldn't do it....
Poor schmuck then bought a kayak, dumped that over in a lake and lost all his equipment, then he sold that too. Now he won't fish. Some folks...
I was taught to use mirrors by an old truck driver. He had me put my hand on the top or the steering wheel at the 12 o'clock position. You would then look in the mirrors and think of your hand as a bucket of water land the rear most corner in the mirror as being on fire. You put out the fire by dumping the water on it and it went out by moving out of the mirror. Sounds more complicate than it is.
When ever possible keep the dock in the drivers side mirror. Just slowly back in along side of it. A lot easier than blind side it.
Been said before and I'll say it again.
Practice, practice, practice.
And...never launch "in a rush". Take your time. Bad things happen when you try to go quickly. Crimped trailers, busted lights....etc.
Slow and steady wins the race.
My wife learned quickly about how to back up a trailer. Not rocket science, but slow and steady is a key.