how to lift boat off trailer to replace bunks

Lifting a boat off a trailer to replace the bunks is a task that requires proper equipment and safety precautions. Replacing the bunks is typically done to ensure proper support for the boat and prevent damage. Here’s how to do it:

Tools and Equipment You’ll Need:

  • Boat lift (hydraulic or manual)
  • Tow vehicle (if using a manual boat lift)
  • Ratchet straps or chains
  • Boat stands or blocks
  • Adjustable wrench or socket set
  • Safety goggles and gloves
  • Assistant (recommended)


  1. Safety Precautions:
    • Ensure that the boat and trailer are parked on a stable, level surface, and engage the trailer’s parking brake to prevent any movement.
  2. Prepare the Boat Lift:
    • If you have access to a boat lift (hydraulic or manual), position it near the trailer and make sure it’s on a stable and level surface. Ensure the boat lift is rated to handle the weight of your boat.
  3. Attach Lifting Straps or Chains:
    • Attach ratchet straps or chains to the appropriate lifting points on the boat. These lifting points are often designated by hooks or brackets on the boat’s hull. Ensure that the straps or chains are in good condition and properly rated for the boat’s weight.
  4. Secure the Boat:
    • Double-check that the boat is securely attached to the lifting equipment. Ensure the straps or chains are tight and properly positioned to evenly distribute the weight.
  5. Lift the Boat:
    • If you’re using a boat lift, carefully operate it to gradually lift the boat off the trailer. If you’re using a manual boat lift, you may need a tow vehicle to help pull the boat off the trailer. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for safe operation.
  6. Clear the Trailer:
    • As you lift the boat, have an assistant or yourself carefully guide the boat to ensure it clears the trailer without any damage. Make sure the boat is level during this process.
  7. Lower onto Boat Stands or Blocks:
    • Once the boat is clear of the trailer, lower it onto boat stands or blocks placed on a stable and level surface. These supports will keep the boat elevated when it’s not in the water.
  8. Inspect the Bunks:
    • With the boat lifted, inspect the old bunks to assess their condition. Remove any fasteners (bolts, screws, etc.) that secure the old bunks to the trailer.
  9. Replace the Bunks:
    • Install the new bunks on the trailer using the same fasteners. Ensure that the bunks are properly aligned and secure.
  10. Reattach the Boat:
    • Carefully raise the boat again using the boat lift, making sure it clears the trailer. Align the boat with the new bunks and slowly lower it onto them.
  11. Remove Lifting Equipment:
    • Carefully remove the lifting straps or chains from the boat.
  12. Secure the Boat:
    • Ensure the boat is properly secured to the new bunks to prevent it from shifting or falling.
  13. Test the Trailer:
    • Carefully lower the trailer’s support structure (tongue, etc.) back onto the ground, and remove the trailer from under the boat.
  14. Lower the Boat:
    • Lower the boat onto the new bunks and ensure it’s properly aligned.
  15. Inspect the Boat:
    • After lowering the boat onto the new bunks, inspect the boat’s position to ensure it’s properly aligned and supported.

By following these steps and prioritizing safety, you can lift your boat off the trailer to replace the bunks and ensure proper support for your vessel. If you’re not comfortable performing these tasks yourself or if your boat is exceptionally large or heavy, consider seeking assistance from a professional boat technician or marina with the necessary equipment and expertise.

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