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How to Lift Your Pontoon Boat off the Trailer Bunks

How to Lift Your Pontoon Boat off the Trailer Bunks

By: Auroramarine


This is a proven method for lifting your boat off the trailer bunks for temporarily working on your pontoons. Cleaning, restoring and protecting your pontoons when your boat is still on the trailer is difficult. You can’t get to the bottom of the pontoons so they stay dirty and covered in marine growth plus the cleaners are likely to damage the carpeting and wood on the bunks and can damage the paint on the trailer. Following is a safe and easy way to lift your boat off the bunks by about 6 to 8 inches so you can protect your trailer with plastic and get to the bottom of the pontoons. If the boat were ever to slip off the blocks, it only has a few inches to fall back onto the trailer so there is no damage. Still, it’s important to work safely. 

1. Hydraulic Bottle Jack of a capacity that meets or exceeds the weight of your boat.
2. 9 to 12 cinder blocks or wooden blocks 8" x 8" x 16"
3. 2” x 8” planks cut to 16” length pieces. You will need a minimum 3 pieces, but more may be required. 
4. Wooden shims as required

CAUTION: This is a safe procedure when done correctly and with care. If
you do not feel confident in your abilities or equipment to handle heavy
weights, do not lift your boat in this way, get professional help

1. Place the boat and trailer on a firm, level surface [Diag.1]. 



2. Lower the tongue of the trailer to the ground to elevate the transom. [Diag.2]. You may need a friend to help keep the tongue down.


3. Block the transom using cinder or wooden blocks [Diag.3]. Make sure that there is a 2”x8”x16" wooden plank between the pontoons and the blocks to prevent damage to the boat. If the blocks and wood do not fit between the ground and the boat, you may have to use additional pieces of 2”x8”x16" wooden plank to compensate for the difference.


4. Place a hydraulic bottle jack under the tongue of the trailer and raise the front of the trailer [Diag.4]. When the jack extends as high as possible, you may have to place blocks and wooden plates under the front cross member to support the boat. Then lower the jack and use wooden plates under the jack to give you additional height. Continue jacking up the trailer. This procedure may have to be repeated several times to gain the necessary height.


5. Continue raising the front of the trailer until the boat is level or slightly bow high. Place blocks with a 2”x8”x16" wooden plank on top, under the front cross member to support the boat. [Diag.5]. Start lowering the jack until the weight of the boat is supported on the three columns of blocks and plates. Make sure that the boat is well supported on each column and is stable.



6. Lower the bottle jack. Extend the trailer jack to support the tongue and remove the bottle jack [Diag.6]. The boat should be well supported and stable on all three columns and the bunks of the trailer should be about 6 to 8 inches lower than the bottom of the boat. This will give you clearance to clean and polish the areas normally supported by the bunks. 

7. Do not remove the trailer. It will act as a safety device to catch the boat in the event that it slips off the blocks or if one of the blocks breaks or the ground becomes infirm and the blocks sink.

8. Do not proceed to work on the boat until it is well supported and stable.

9. To reseat the boat on the trailer, reverse the above procedure.

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