Launching your boat can be as easy as 1-2-3 or it can be a difficult and embarrassing event. Here are some tips to help you – and the other boaters around you – have a happier day.
Before You Leave the House
Lots of time can be saved by doing some things at home before you leave.
- Make sure all your life saving equipment is on board and properly stowed.
- Make sure the drain plug is inserted.
- Locate your bow and stern lines and stow the in an easily accessible place.
- Clear you anchor rope and anchor; there’s no bigger mess than a tangled anchor rope.
At the Launch Ramp
- While you are in line waiting to get to your turn at the ramp, put all your personal items on board. That includes food, coolers, towels, clothing – anything that you brought in your vehicle that needs to go on the boat.
- Move your vehicle along with the rest of the line as it progresses to the ramp; there are people behind you looking to move forward as well.
- This is NOT the time to start taking rods out of their storage and getting them set up to fish.
- Attach the bow and stern lines to their appropriate cleats.
- If you use fenders, now is the time to set them on the gunnel.
- Remove the stern tie downs that hold the boat on the trailer.
As You Back Your Boat Down to the Water
- Back the boat into the water to the depth that your trailer needs.
- Unhook the bow from the trailer winch.
- If you are alone, climb into the boat, start your engine and back the boat off the trailer.
- DO NOT “beach” the boat on the boat ramp. Idle it or take it to a position on the dock that will allow other boats to launch.
- If you have a partner, he can pull the trailer out and park the vehicle. If you are alone, make it a point to be quick about tying off your boat and removing your vehicle from the ramp; again, now is NOT the time to be fiddling with tackle.
Parking Your Vehicle
- Move your vehicle from the launch ramp to the parking area as quickly and safely as you can. Remember, you have a long attachment to your vehicle. Give your parking neighbors room to get in and out of their vehicle.
- Make sure your trailer is straight behind your vehicle.
- Make sure you have not cut someone’s egress by blocking him with your trailer.
- Make sure you lock your vehicle and take the keys with you!
Leaving the Ramp
- Move your boat away from the dock as soon as practical.
- One last reminder – now is STILL NOT the time to fiddle with tackle. You are taking up valuable dock space that another launching boat needs to use.
- Even if signs are not posted, anywhere around the ramp and the dock is automatically a NO WAKE zone. NO WAKE means just that – NO WAKE. Some people think that means “go slow” or “not up on plane”. This is idle speed folks. Use only enough power to allow steerage of your boat.
- Once away from the ramp, you can fiddle with whatever you like to fiddle with. NOW IS the /ul]time to take out rods, tackle, gear, etc.
Launching a boat can be simple and quick if you follow these basic rules. Common sense is what most of them are about. Having a routine set up every time you launch will prevent bad things from happening – and it can also prevent writers like me from writing about you!