Launching Ramp Tips and Etiquette!
Boats waiting to launch
should give way to boats being hauled out as people in the water waiting to
haul cannot see or count
vehicles in the parking lot and do not know what the waiting order is. You’ll
need the space they are occupying anyway, and since parking is almost very
always limited you or someone else will need the spot being vacated! With no
empty parking spots left no one can launch anyway. Here are some helpful
hints and tips to avoid personal frustrations and danger at the local boat ramps
and to avoid aggravating your fellow boaters.
- Prepare the vessel and
trailer for launching before backing down the ramp
Load all necessary
equipment from your vehicle to the boat in the standby area – not while
occupying the ramp or after launching. Undo your highway hold down straps but
not your winch cable and safety chain. Dry launches are disastrous! Make sure
your drain plug is installed and your battery has juice for starting and the
engine is primed. Have your lines and fenders tied off and ready. If someone
else is prepared to launch before you let them go – don’t hold someone else up
by your lack of preparation. If you are unsure about backing down have someone
assist you or better yet practice away from the ramp before the season starts.
- Launch the vessel into
Back down the ramp until
the proper depth for launching is reached. Set the vehicle in park and firmly
set the parking brake. For large vessels we recommend chalking the wheels at
this point. Undo the winch safety chain and then the winch cable. You might have
to cleat the boat off before undoing the winch strap to prevent pressure from
making the winch cable strap unmovable. Make a controlled launch by using a long
bow line and applying tension on the line with the trailer winch stand, vehicle
part or dock cleat. Note: large vessels can exert considerable pull – don’t let
the vessel get away from you and do damage.
- Immediately remove the
vessel from the launching area to the pickup part of the dock
Don’t be a ramp or dock
hog! In many locations the area directly behind the launch ramp is limited and
if you tie up there while you go to park the vehicle or fiddle with the boat
others cannot launch. In no case should you leave the boat unattended at the
ramp dock for more than a moment or two to start and/or move the boat to the
- Vessel recovery
Essentially the same as the
launch but in reverse! Get the trailer ready while waiting in line. Winch lines
should be pulled off the winch and ready to deploy. Attach any needed lines to
the vessel or trailer. Put your boots on if you need to be in the water to haul.
Wait your turn and back down to the proper depth. Chalk the vehicle wheels if
the boat is heavy or the ramp steep. Haul out as quickly as possible. Secure
winch strap and safety chain. Ease up the ramp and pull the boat and trailer up
to the standby parking area to put away any remaining gear and install highway
hold down straps.
Lastly, have patience. If
you are accomplished at trailering, offer to help others if needed. Someone
probably helped you at one time or another. Don’t let the ramp activity ruin
your boating day!
Note: Special thanks to
Paul Caruso for the idea and putting this together.