Moving a Jet Ski from a Trailer to a Stand

You probably weren’t thinking of logistics when you bought your jet ski, But there’s a few things you’ll need to plan for once the fun is over. This includes how to transport and move it from your trailer to a stand.

So how do I move a jet ski from a trailer to a stand?  To move a jet ski from a trailer to a stand, start by making sure you have help from at least one other person and the vessel is secure. Then, begin removing your tie-downs and prepare to slide it off the trailer and onto the stand. You may consider investing in a PWC lift to move your jet ski safely.

Some Important Considerations

For most of us, we buy things we know we want – and hopefully will use for years to come – without actually thinking through all of the logistics. But those impulse buys can be our greatest investments. 

For avid water sport enthusiasts, your own jet ski may just be one of those purchases. 

Whether or not you bought one on a whim, there’s likely zero regrets after long fun-filled days out on the water. Now you just need to know how to place it on a stand for storage or necessary off-season repairs.

While moving a jet ski from a trailer to stand doesn’t sound too complicated, remember that you’re going to be moving a heavy – and expensive – piece of equipment, and you’ll want to do so carefully.

There are a few key factors you’ll want to take into account before you get started, including how the stand, cart, or dolly will fit your PWC, the weight capacity of the stand, and the height. 

There are also different types of stands on the market, and which will best fit your needs depends mostly on whether you are looking for a place to store your PWC or if you need to do some work on it – or both. 

Before we get into how to move your jet ski, we’ll first talk about the different options out there, and some important things to look at when it comes to proper off-season storage.

Jet Ski Transfer and Storage 

If you’ve made the decision to purchase a PWC without fully investing in the purchase of some sort of dolly, stand, or cart to move it, you’re in good company.

It’s pretty common for this to be a bit of an afterthought but, certainly, one you need to invest in and research. 

Without one, storing and moving your jet ski will prove much more difficult, and it will certainly lessen the life and quality of your PWC, not to mention the fact that you can really hurt yourself trying to move a 500 (or more) pound craft without help.

Which is It – Stand, Cart, or Dolly?

The most confusing part of determining which device you need is differentiating between the terminology – in other words, what is the difference between a cart, a stand, and a dolly? 

The honest and shortest answer is not much. They’re really all quite similar but may have different features or design aspects.

The one difference to take note of is a boat or launching dolly, which is quite similar to a trailer and not the same as a storage stand or cart.

You cannot use a boat dolly to transport your PWC in the same way that you’d use a traditional trailer for transporting your watercraft from your home to the beach. 

It is smaller and is generally used to launch small boats and PWCs into the water (source). These are a bit different from what we’re looking into here.  

Regardless of what you call it – a stand, cart, or dolly – it is not much different from the type of dolly that you’d use to move a heavy piece of furniture or equipment. 

That type of dolly is unique in that it will have a platform and four wheels, as opposed to two, as you’d see with a stand-up dolly for moving a large bookshelf or a stack of boxes (source).

Below are the most important considerations you’ll want to take a look at before deciding what to buy. 

Notice weight balance is achieved by keeping ski forward on stand

Weight Capacity and Size

The first thing you want to look at is ensuring that the weight capacity is high enough for the weight of your PWC and the size is big enough to fit. 

Not all jet skis are the same size and weight – some range over 1,000 pounds, which you will clearly not move easily without the help of a cart or stand that can withstand that amount of weight.

A Sea-Doo Spark, for example, weighs around 425 pounds, while some of the newer, larger Kawasaki models are over 1,000 pounds. 

Many users recommend the “Aquacart” model for the best jet ski dolly in that it is the most durable and can withstand a weight of up to 1,300 pounds.  If you’ve got a larger size model jet ski, you may want to investigate this one further (source). 

This stand also is highly reputable for the fact that the wheels are some of the largest on the market. With regard to wheels, in general, it is advised that you take a look at the wheels on the cart that you choose and go for the cart that has thicker or larger wheels. 

Larger wheels provide more stability and also allow you to move your PWC a bit more easily when it is on the stand, regardless of the weight of your watercraft.  

Smaller wheels, while functional for small watercraft, are not as efficient when it comes to maneuvering the cart from one place to another. 

Height

The height of the cart is another important factor to consider in that a low stand will allow for easier sliding from trailer to cart. But, if it is too low, you’re really going to need some muscle (and the help of others) to get your jet ski onto the cart safely. 

On the other hand, a higher stand may require a jet ski lift, though investing in one may prove more useful than you think, beyond moving your PWC.

If at some point you need to work on your PWC for repairs or painting on the underside, a lift is going to make the job much easier.  

Also, if you happen to need to move your jet ski without anyone else around, having a lift is going to make that possible – otherwise, please don’t attempt moving your PWC solo. Jet ski lifts, however, can be pretty expensive, and you don’t want to cut corners on quality. 

Remember, it’s going to be responsible for moving anywhere upwards of 800 pounds, on average, and your safety, as well as that of your PWC, are going to depend on it. 

Still, you can find lower-cost options, including those that come with a jet ski hoist as well as those that come without. 

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Transferring Your Jet Ski from Trailer to Stand

Once you’ve decided what type of stand, cart, or dolly to use, you’ve made it to the fun part: moving your PWC from your trailer. It’s not an impossible task, but there are certain steps you want to take to ensure your safety.  Move slowly and carefully, don’t rush it, and get someone to help you.

You’ll want to make sure that your trailer is still attached to your tow vehicle before getting started (source). This is important because the last thing you want is your trailer moving around as you are attempting to move your PWC – keeping it attached will ensure that it holds steady. 

And, if you think about the basics of gravity and physics, as you move the weight of your PWC further toward the back end of the trailer, it’s going to cause the front end of the trailer to lift upwards, which can be incredibly dangerous. 

Another tip before attempting to move your PWC is to empty your fuel tank if it is not already empty. This will reduce the weight of your jet ski by about 100 pounds or so, making it easier to move. 

Follow the steps below to safely and securely move your PWC from trailer to stand without a lift:

First, center the stand so that it lines up with the bunks of the trailer – you’ll want the engine of your PWC centered between the bunks. Next, disconnect the winch strap and tie-down straps first.

After that, slide your PWC towards the rear of the trailer, but be sure that the center of the hull is supported.

Finally, if the stand is not too low, continue to slide your watercraft off of the trailer and onto the cart, with at least one person on each side, supporting the hull.

If you are having trouble sliding your watercraft, or if the carpet covering on your trailer bunk is worn, you may want to look into using something to help lubricate your PWC, making it easier to move. 

You can use a product called “liquid rollers” to make loading and unloading your PWC much less tasking. Others have even suggested using a bit of cooking oil, but that is an improvisation that is not necessarily recommended!

In either case, reducing the friction will make movement easier and protect your PWC from becoming scratched as well.

If your stand is a bit higher than your trailer, you’re going to want to either use a lift and sling in order to get your jet ski onto the cart or recruit anywhere from 4 to 6 people to help hoist up.  

Having a lift will allow you to move your PWC solo if necessary, though it is still a better idea to recruit someone to help you to avoid damage to your PWC – or yourself! 

The best advice with regard to the use of a lift to help move your jet ski is to read the specific instructions on how to properly operate one and anchor the straps safely to your PWC. 

They’re all a bit different, but you’ll want to make sure that the straps are properly secured, centered, and support the hull of your watercraft well. 

Jet Ski Stand Options – Buying or Building

We’ve already mentioned the Aquacart stand, which does seem to have rave reviews across the board. It’s durable, sturdy, and the wheels are large enough for ease of movement with the heaviest of watercraft. 

The downside to this cart is that it is large, and it is one of the heavier ones on the market.  However, they have many other options on their Amazon store.

You’re also going to be paying more for the Aquacart as compared to others but, depending on what you are looking for, the investment may be well worth it.

There are a few different versions of the Aquacart available. Below are some characteristics among the top 3 rated Aquacarts.

AQ -19
(Mid-Range Price)
AQ-30
(Higher-Priced Model)
AQ-11
(Lower-Priced Model)
Universal DesignUniversal DesignLow Profile Design
Fits up to 1,300 lb PWCsFits up to 1,300 lb PWCs or 1,800 lb with 6” casters)Fits up to 1,300 lb PWCs
19″ Bunk Height30” Tall11.5” Tall
48” Long Bunks48” Long Bunks48” Long Bunks
Caster Wheel Brakes4-way Swivel Casters4-way Swivel Casters
Adjustable 14-20” Bunk SpacingAdjustable 12-20” Wide Bunk Spacing20”, 14”, or 12” Wide Bunk Spacing

Another more affordable option is the SBT jet ski stand. It is a lower cart at 11 inches in height and can hold up to 1,200 pounds. Similar to the Aquacart, it also has larger wheels, helping to make transferring your PWC and moving it much easier. 

The SBT Jet Ski stand is cheaper but also much smaller than Aquacarts.

However, the one complaint about this cart is that, due to the lower height, it can make the movement of your PWC a bit more challenging. If you are a rider with a smaller stand-up style or lightweight PWC, you probably don’t need something as elaborate as the Aquacart.

A more simplified dolly will provide you with the support and movement you need, but holds a lower amount of weight, so keep that in mind.

Should You Build a Cart? 

You’ll find quite a few threads and Pinterest pins about how to easily build a PWC cart or stand.  However, it is not necessarily recommended, primarily for safety reasons. 

A home-made stand is not going to be as sturdy or as durable, and you run the risk of severely damaging your PWC if the stand doesn’t hold up. 

Because jet ski stands are not all that expensive, especially the more simplified versions, and they’re more than a worthy investment, buying one is the better option. 

How and Where to Store Your Jet Ski

For many of us, each time we walk into our garage, we wonder how we’ve managed to fill up every inch of space with everything under the sun.

From tools to gardening soil to the kids’ sports equipment – you’d begin to wonder how we manage to fit our cars in there too.

But for most of us with an inclination for summer adventures and water sports, we also want to store our jet skis in the garage – which is a good place to do so since it offers good protection from the winter elements – and theft too.

So, if you don’t have a shed – and don’t plan to rent one, which is also an option – you’ll need to make some room for your jet ski stand, especially since fitting a trailer in there will take up a lot more space. 

You can absolutely store your jet ski on your cart or stand. Most carts and dollies have locking wheels to restrict movement, making it an ideal storage spot. 

Regardless, you should cover your jet ski with a PWC cover, which will protect it from exhaust fumes, damage, and help prevent unwanted creatures from making a winter home in your exhaust pipe. 

Either way, before you cover your PWC and store it away, make sure you winterize it first, saving you a lot of time and money next season.

To learn more about winterizing, storing, or repairing your jet ski, you can read one or both of the following articles: “How to Keep Mice out of Your Jet Ski” or “Painting the Bottom of a Jet Ski.”

And incidentally, if you do plan to paint the bottom of your jet ski, that stand is going to come in very, very handy! 

Final Thoughts 

You’re going to need to move your jet ski – whether from trailer to stand, trailer to water, or even from one trailer to another. Having a proper stand, cart, or dolly is going to make that job possible and much simpler. 

Don’t procrastinate in the investment and, if you don’t have help from a few friends, be sure to look into a lift to help avoid unnecessary accidents and damage to your PWC.

And finally, try to skip the temptation to build a stand yourself, unless you’ve got lots of experience in doing so. A good, properly made durable stand is going to keep you and your PWC safe and is well worth the investment. 

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Tim Conner, M.D.

Tim Conner, M.D. started boating in 1974. He has been involved in recreational boating continuously since then. Dr. Conner has been active in boating and watersports safety education for decades. He rode his first jet ski in 1997, and rejoined the personal watercraft arena in 2012 with a Sea-Doo GTX 155, followed by 2 supercharged SeaDoos. Scuba certification came in 1988, and he and the family have traveled the world snorkeling and scuba diving for decades. The family has recently taken up paddle boarding. Click the photo for a lot more.

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