DRIFTWOOD OUTDOORS: Rules of the boat ramp

Boat launch etiquette important to follow

If you’ve ever been to a busy boat launch on a hot summer weekend, then there is a good chance you have experienced the ill effects of someone who is either ignorant of proper boat launch etiquette, or is simply rude.

I tend to always believe it is the first, but am sure it is on occasion the latter. The first can thankfully be remedied, the latter not so much.

Boat launch etiquette is pretty simple. In fact, it really comes down to one word — hurry. If there a lot of people in line to access the ramp for either putting their boat in or taking it out, the last thing they want to do is wait on you while you take your sweet time securing your vessel and all of its accessories.

When you are launching your boat, back your trailer down to the water’s edge and let a driver hop in the boat. Back the trailer into the water until the boat slides off and pull up and off the ramp while the driver maneuvers the boat to a dock or another place where you and the rest of your passengers can get onboard.

When pulling your boat from the water, you will ideally have someone in the boat to drive it onto the trailer. You back down into the water, they pull the boat on the trailer, and you pull them out and up into the parking lot where you will then secure the boat with straps. None of this needs to be done on the ramp.

Now, of course, there will be times when you are going out in the boat on your own and a driver for launching and trailering isn’t available. For this, you again need to revert to rule No. 1 — hurry. Just do your best to get the boat off or on the trailer in the timeliest manner possible.

The launch ramp is a great place to make friends. If you see someone who is launching or trailering alone, offer to help. I know I would appreciate such a gesture, and chances are you would too. If you’re a fisherman and they obviously are as well, then while you’re helping is a great time to chat about what’s working or where the fish are biting. You never know what sort of knowledge a stranger you’re out helping might clue you into.

Another aspect of boat launch etiquette is keeping the ramp as clean as possible. I can’t tell you how many piles of beers cans I’ve picked up over the years that folks have dumped out in the parking lot after realizing they had better not drive home with a cooler full of evidence. Please put all your trash in a proper trash receptacle. If there isn’t one nearby, then take your trash home with you, or to the nearest trash can. And if you do come across an unfortunate pile of trash, be the bigger person and pick it up. Litter ruins outdoor experiences for all who must endure it.

Boat launch etiquette is pretty simple. Like most things it life it simply comes down to treating people the way you’d like to be treated. Hurry up, help out and keep the ramp clean.

See you down the trail …

III

Brandon Butler is an outdoors columnist for the News Tribune. Contact him at outdoors@newstribune.com.

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