When launching your boat, be courteous


Launching a boat isn’t rocket science but it is the root of too much evil language and too many angry tempers and hard feelings.

Pity the spouse who is jackknifed on dry land because that’s when the name calling begins, followed by doors slamming, fingers pointed, horns blowing, and, well, you get the picture.

It shouldn’t be anything like that. Launching is just part of everyday boating with a trailered boat.

Enjoying time on the water is another part, and ramping out, or loading the boat for the trip home is another.

Important part

Too bad the act of launching gets so little time in most boating courses and very little space in written boating guides, because it is very much part of every boating day.

So, let’s talk. Launching a boat for those new to the challenge, should begin far from any water in a large, unobstructed parking lot.

That’s where learning to back a trailer is mastered. Backing is a skill, nothing less and nothing more.

Use two sticks to demonstrate how it works with one stick representing the vehicle and the other the trailer.

Visualize the effect one has on the other before actually trying it. Use the mirrors and learn the skill, then head for the lake, where backing is the skill part. The rest is common sense.

Prepare first

Prior to the ramp and well out of the way of the ramp itself, there is a prep area where every boater should do just that; prep the boat for launching before approaching the ramp itself.

That means arranging gear inside the boat, removing trailer tie downs, stowing the tarp and other things like removing motor straps or supports. It is important, however, to keep the bow connected to the trailer winch.

After boating, simply load the boat, crank it tight to the winch, then pull away from the ramp before wiping down and completing final duties to make way for others who are waiting to use the ramp.

It is extremely frustrating for courteous boaters who are prepping their boats in the proper area for launching prior to going forward to the ramp to be blocked by a less than courteous person who seems unaware that there is a certain ramp etiquette that includes waiting in line, taking turns, and helping others if needed.

Take turns

And consider these other suggestions. Once afloat, move the boat out to the end of a ramp-side dock so that the next boater can use the ramp.

It saves time and clears the area. If you are ready and behind one or more boats still prepping their boats you can leap frog them to the ramp but do it nicely by asking if they mind.

That’s a good example of ramp etiquette.

On weekends there may be several boaters waiting to ramp in and out. It can get testy in a hurry so be a good boater, be patient, and be understanding.



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Mike Tontimonia has been writing weekly columns and magazine features about the outdoors for over 25 years, a career that continues to hold the same excitement for him as it did at the beginning. Mike is a retired educator, a licensed auctioneer and marketing consultant. He lives in Ravenna, Ohio and enjoys spending time at his Carroll County cabin. Mike has hunted and fished in several states and Canada from the Carolinas to Alaska and from Idaho to Delaware. His readers have often commented that the stories about his adventures are about as close to being there as possible. He is past president of the Outdoor Writers of Ohio and a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America. Mike is also very involved in his community as a school board member and a Rotarian.



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