The boat launch ramp can be a place of great entertainment – and great frustration. How well a boater launches and retrieves has an impact on everyone else, mostly in how long they have to wait for the ramp to be cleared. But there’s also a big impact on just how much fun we have, because watching boat ramp follies can be quite hilarious, too. (Note – before letting the follies get too far out of hand, it’s always a nice idea to offer help to someone who may not be as experienced as you are). If you want to make sure you’re someone who’s in and out fast as opposed to being one of those entertainment providers, make sure to avoid these three things you should never do at the ramp.
- Never transfer gear from the truck to the boat while you’re clogging up the ramp. This should be done ahead of time, when you’re pulled out of the way, to help speed the launching process and keep the ramp clear. This matters even when the ramp is empty as you pull in, because two or three other boats could arrive right as you’re in the middle of loading, blocking the ramp.
- Don’t remove the safety chain prior to backing the boat into the water. This goes double for those who have “slick”bunks or rollers on their trailer, because that makes it more likely your boat could pull free and start sliding off the trailer prematurely. Many people get away with doing this for years so they think it’s fine… then one day, perhaps the ramp’s steeper than you’re accustomed to or you tap the brakes accidentally as you’re backing up and wham – suddenly, your boat is laying on concrete. Ouch.
- If at all possible, have someone in the boat as its launched, ready to start the engine and pull it out of the way immediately. In the case of very small ramps with a single, small pier, this may be difficult. But even if it means pulling out of the way then pulling back to the dock later to pick up a crew-member returning from parking the truck, the people waiting in line will really appreciate the fact that you opened up the space for them in a matter of seconds.
For more on best practices at the boat ramp, be sure to read 5 Tips for Single-Handed Boat Launching and Launching and Retrieving: How Far Should You Submerge the Boat Trailer?