Skip to main content

Oregon State Flag An official website of the State of Oregon »

Power Loading

Power loading is when a boater remains in their boat and keeps the motor trim low to "power" the boat onto the trailer. Power loading may be faster, but the practice is costly and impacts everyone who uses the boat ramp.  For longer wakeboard boats that do not have winch mechanisms, operators are strongly encouraged to "bump" the throttle just enough to dislodge the boat from the trailer and shift into neutral quickly to prevent scouring from power loading. What should a boater practice? Get out of the boat, get onto the boarding dock, and "walk and guide" the boat onto the trailer using a bow line.
Here's what happens when you power load:

What happens when boaters "power load."
Power loading causes damage to the toe of the boat ramp that requires costly repairs and may damage your trailer.

When the toe of a boat ramp is undermined, it compromises the integrity of the ramp itself, causing damage to the rebar and other material on the ramp.  This can cause boat ramps to be shut down, as is the case for Clackamette Park, in Clackamas County.  In many cases, the boat ramp requires a complete rebuild that costs hundreds of thousands of dollars.  And these are boater dollars that come from registration and titling fees.  So it really behooves all boaters to protect "their" investment, and take the extra 5 minutes to properly load their boat onto the boat trailer.  View a short video from the Boat-Ed study guide about power loading.

Images below: Brownlee Reservoir in 2015 during the drought.  OSMB staff surveyed the ramp toe for damage.  
Brownlee Reservoir during a low water survey to assess damage to ramp toe
Looking at the end of the ramp...

Brownlee Reservoir ramp toe and the "hole" from power loading
Looking from the side of the ramp toe.

And meet power loading's cousin, freshwater back-flushing. This practice can not only undermine the toe of a boat ramp, it can also introduce aquatic invasive species. Some species have adapted from salt water to fresh water. 

Image of a motorboat's whitewash and message to stop the practice of backflushing boat motors or jet drives