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How to Lift a Boat Off a Trailer? – 2 Simple Methods

Written by Anthony Roberts / Fact checked by Jonathan Larson

how to lift a boat off a trailer

After unhooking your boat from a trailer, what’s the next thing that you need to do? You have to remove the boat from the trailer. There are two methods how to lift a boat off a trailer, which is by using a portable lift and a hydraulic jack.

Know the proper steps in using these tools so you would know the one that works best for you. You’ll find them in this article and don’t worry as they’re simple and easy to follow when you do it at home or in the garage. 

Ways to Raise a Boat Off a Trailer

Method 1: Using a portable lift


What to prepare

  • Portable lift
  • Pre-made chock woods, DIY wood blocks, or bricks
  • Boat stands
  • Hitch pin
  • Spring pin

Many boaters depend on a portable lift as it’s easy to unload a boat off a trailer. This tool brings convenience as you can save time and energy.

A portable lift makes it easy to unload a boat and lowers the chances of accidents and hurting yourself. You may move your vehicles with a car lift, but a portable lift can do the same.

Step 1: Ensure enough air on trailer’s tires

When doing this task, ensure the trailer’s tires have enough air so they won’t budge. This factor also ensures that lifting the boat will go smoothly without hindrances. The right amount of air is based on the manufacturer’s recommendation.

Step 2: Support from wood or brick

The trailer’s side needs some support when you lift your boat to stay as it is. You can buy some pre-made chock wood, or you may make ones if you can find blocks of wood nearby. The latter choice is more economical than the former.

When you put a boat on blocks, you also oversee its stabilization. Again, it’s a precaution to avoid mishaps.

Step 3: Ensure the right setting of trailer’s tongue

You have to put the trailer’s tongue on the lowest setting to form a slope. This is a preparation for the next step.

Step 4: Boat on the transom

You have to set up some boat stands to let the boat lean on the transom. It’s done for stability and the boat won’t fall. Before proceeding to the next step, lift the trailer’s tongue up.

Step 5: Secure the trapeze and bow eye

It’s important to secure the trapeze and bow eye by using a hitch pin and clips.

Step 6: The trapeze to the pivot stand

The pivot stand is portable, but it’s an effective lifting mechanism. After the trapeze is connected to the bow eye, the other end of the trapeze should be linked to the pivot stand.

A spring pin can hold the trapeze and pivot stand together. Don’t forget to make the trapeze slightly higher than the pivot stand.

Step 7: The placement of the eye nut and winch stand to the trapeze

The next step is connecting the eye nut and winch stand on the free end of the trapeze. You can further tighten the cable by turning the winch. See to it that the legs of the winch stands should be projecting away from the center.

Step 8: Take care of the safety chain

Every time you purchase a portable lift, there’s a safety chain that is necessary for the base of the stands. Too much tension is not good on the chain as it can disintegrate the length of the chain. It’s also advisable to leave two links to loosen the chain.

Step 9: Close the gap between the trailer and boat

Again, lower the trailer’s tongue to make a gap between the trailer and the boat. It’s done for easier release.

Step 10: Cranking the portable lift

Before you go, put the tongue down for safety. You can begin cranking the portable lift once you take a boat off a trailer.

Do it slowly and surely, and be mindful that the stands are in place. When everything is set, you can lift the boat out of the trailer without any trouble.

Step 11: Arrange the boat stands

When the trailer is taken out, arrange the boat stands. Note that boat stands have different placements that are indicated in the user manual. A ramp or an inclination is not helpful when you use a portable lift when taking your boat out of a trailer.

If there’s an inclination, the trailer may roll off on it. Since you can’t see it coming, you might hurt yourself and damage some pieces of equipment or properties.

Method 2: Using a hydraulic jack


What to prepare to get the boat off the trailer on land

  • Hydraulic jack
  • Wheel chock or pieces of wood
  • Thick plywood or cardboard

It’s a method recommended for vessels 15 to 25 feet long. Hence, it’s what you need for a bass boat, small boat, and pontoon boat.

Step 1: Placing the boat in a secure spot

Put the boat in a secure place like an even and solid, concrete ground when moving a boat out of the trailer. Due to its weight, the boat can plow the uneven ground.

Step 2: Support for the wheels

While working, unnecessary movements from both the boat and trailer are bothersome. Use a wheel chock to prevent this from happening. Some pieces of wood are an alternative if you have them around.

Step 3: Use the hydraulic jack the right way

At this point, you can use the hydraulic jack. To not damage the vessel’s exterior, layout thick plywood or cardboard over the hydraulic jack. Next, you have to lift the boat to create space for the runners.

Step 4: Add boat stands

After lifting the boat, it’s time to place the boat stands on its sides and edges.

Step 5: Separate of the trailer

As the boat is supported by the stands, it’s fine to pull out the trailer by letting the boat slide. Do it carefully and slowly to not knock down the hydraulic jack.

Step 6: Take off the hydraulic jack

Put hollow blocks in the boat’s middle part for additional support before doing this step. Lower the hydraulic jack to separate it from the boat. Do it slowly to avoid any mishaps.


Can I jack up a boat on a trailer?

Yes, you can jack a boat off a trailer. As mentioned, you can choose either the portable lift or the hydraulic jack. You need to do it for many reasons besides the boat getting in and out of the water.

You may need to do it to replace bunks and to paint the bottom part of your boat when cleaning. This also happens when the boat is for repair.

How do you lift a boat on a trailer with straps?

You lift a boat on a trailer with straps if you use a boathouse lift attached to the boathouse’s roof. There are polyester straps or strings that can lift your boat. It’s crucial to have proper reinforcement so the hull won’t be squeezed.

The spacing between the slings should be correct so it can support the boat well and the boathouse lift can function properly. It’s expected that the boat’s center of gravity is in the middle of a pair of slings.

You have to make some calculations to set the center of gravity correctly. The straps or the slings should be under the hull, specifically on the flat part. Some boat storage facilities use straps or slings, too but with a forklift.

Ideally, the forklift has long, padded forks that you can usually find at a dry-storage marina. However, a sailboat can rock but putting some support on its end will make it right.

How do I get my boat off my trailer bunks?

Here are the steps on getting your boat off your trailer bunks:

  • Step 1: The boat and trailer should be placed on a solid, level surface.
  • Step 2: Let the trailer’s tongue get in contact with the ground so the transom is uplifted. You’ll need a hand for this step.
  • Step 3: Place wooden or cinder blocks on the transom to protect the boat from damages. Make sure that these blocks fill the gap between the boat and the ground.
  • Step 4: Put a hydraulic bottle jack below the trailer’s tongue and elevate the front side of the trailer. You may need to raise it several times to achieve the ideal height. The boat’s front side needs support, so you can add wooden blocks under it.
  • Step 5: You need to raise the trailer until the boat reaches the level height. The right time to lower the jack is when the boat’s weight is contained on the column of blocks. Be mindful of providing adequate support to the boat for its stability.
  • Step 6: After the trailer jack is lowered, you can take out the bottle jack. Don’t remove the trailer, as it can catch the boat if the latter slips off. You now have the clearance to get your boat off from the trailer bunks or clean the boat’s bottom.


The most common methods on how to lift a boat off a trailer are by using a portable lift and hydraulic jack. Vessels 15 to 25 feet long should be lifted with a hydraulic jack, while the longer ones should be moved with a portable lift.

In some instances, straps and a forklift are utilized. If you have a boathouse or happen to drop by, you’ll need straps to lift your boat from the trailer. When it comes to a forklift, some storage services use it.

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