Boat ramp courtesy is often less than it needs to be. There is nothing worse than waiting, and waiting, and waiting for a rookie to launch, or load their boats. Once the craft is launched, the BS and added tasks become a nuisance for waiting boaters. The boat ramp belongs to everyone, so do what you need to do, and move aside. Your boating time is no more, or no less important, than everyone else’s.
On one occasion, I was trying to launch my boat, while waiting for a boatload of selfish drunks. They were more concerned about loading more beer than safely launching their boat. After the boat was in the water and floating, the truck moved forward with the strap still attached. The boat was dragged up onto the ramp before someone hit the brakes.
On another occasion, a lone fisherman launched his boat and got out of his truck to disconnect his craft. He forgot to put on the brakes and his entire rig was launched. The truck and trailer were completely submerged with the lights still on! In New England, they call these folks “Googans”. In other areas, they have earned many colorful and special names.
Have your boat loaded, rigged, and ready before you back it down the ramp. The straps are off, the gear is loaded, and everyone is helping, or staying out of the way. Keep your rig to the side until it is time to launch. Understand what you need to do and efficiently do it! Once your boat is launched, get out of the way so others can access the ramp. This should be a 5 minute task. If it takes you longer, then you need to ask for advice, and practice your skills. When it is “launch time”, launch!
If the slip is empty, always give others space. Don’t hog the ramp because you do not know how to back up your boat trailer. Practice backing up on an open parking lot ahead of time. Place a couple cones up and back away. Know what you are doing before you do it.
It is ok to ask for help and instructions. Other boaters are more than willing to help you become a better waterman. If you are already competent, enjoy teaching others the right way to launch and load a boat. We learn from mistakes. It is ok to lend assistance when you see a need.
Never touch someone else’s boat. Keep your distance and avoid any contact with other boats. If you see a need, ask permission before touching and helping. Have boat bumpers available to prevent any bumping.
Know your ramp. I once watched a boater trying to load his massive boat using a shallow ramp. The tide was low and the boat was huge. The Captain was using his twin engines to push the oversized boat onto the trailer. The winch was smoking and straining trying to drag the “Titanic” onto his trailer. It took forever to load a boat that was meant for a deeper water ramp and a higher tide. In the meanwhile several smaller boats circled while waiting their turn to load.
Trolling motors are helpful to launch and load. Using these auxiliary motors can serve as tugs to push or pull your boat where it needs to be. These are especially helpful when the wind is a problem.
Boating is about safety and recreation. No one wants to get yelled at or feel stupid at the boat ramp. Practice makes perfect. Mistakes are expensive but preventable. Do your business and go!
Launch, load, and leave!
For more Montana Grant, visit his website at www.montanagrantfishing.com.