When you invest in a boat, you need to know how to use it while being courteous towards other boaters. Observing boat launch etiquette helps you get your boat into the water safely while respecting other boaters’ space. Let’s go over the boat ramp rules for launching and loading a boat in a respectful and efficient way.
The following tips can help you launching your boat effectively:
- Prepare your boat in the staging area: Before you put your boat on the launch ramp, make sure it’s ready to go. That’s what the staging area is for. When you reach this area, your boat should still be attached to the vehicle that pulled the boat to this location. Park the vehicle and your boat in the staging area and perform the following actions:
- Install your boat’s drain plug.
- Put your key in the boat’s ignition and turn it on to test the battery. This action ensures that your boat won’t have a dead battery when you put it in the water.
- Load all your gear, including safety gear, into the boat.
- Remove all tie-downs, winch straps, and braces from the boat.
- Attach fenders to the side of the boat that will face the dock.
- Attach dock lines to the boat’s bow and stern cleats.
- Bring your boat to the launch ramp: Once you’ve performed all the preparatory steps listed above, you’re ready to drive your boat to the launch ramp. Use the following steps to get into the water without blocking other boaters’ access to the ramp:
- Don’t hog the ramp. If the ramp has lanes, stay in yours.
- Respect launch ramp traffic. During peak boating seasons, such as the summer months, ramps can have long lines of boats trying to launch on them. Move with the line’s traffic flow and wait your turn to launch.
- Don’t park in the courtesy docks in ways that block ramp traffic. Some ramps have courtesy docks that boaters can use as they prepare to enter the water. Use them if you need to do so, but don’t clog the flow of the ramp’s traffic.
- Observe ramp walk rules: Don’t have anyone walking alongside your boat as you bring it down the ramp. Instead, have one person in the vehicle that’s unloading the boat and another person in the boat to drive it once it’s in the water. This practice keeps everyone safe on the launch ramp.
- Retrieve and load your boat respectfully: Loading your boat on your trailer is the exact inverse of launching it into the water. As with launching, it’s best to wait patiently in the loading line and respect the flow of traffic. You can tie your boat to a courtesy dock while you wait for your vehicle and trailer to show up, but make sure you don’t block other boats coming up the ramp.
If you use these tips and steps as you launch and load your boat, you’ll get through both processes smoothly and efficiently. You also won’t interfere with other boaters as they launch and load around you.
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Boat ramp etiquette matters because it helps you get along with other boaters. It also keeps everyone safe as they get their boats into the water. Overall, you need to be aware of what you’re doing to ensure you get your boat into the water safely and effectively. If you lose your awareness or concentration, you could end up in an accident before you even get your boat to the dock. Staying aware and alert throughout the launch process makes it easier for you and everyone around you to get into the water and begin using their boats safely.
Not if there’s traffic on the ramp. Load and unload your passengers on a nearby courtesy dock after launching your boat into the water. If there’s no courtesy dock nearby, idle near the ramp but away from the main flow of traffic to get your bearings. Once the ramp traffic clears, return to it to load your passengers onto the boat.
Yes, you can. Some boat owners launch their boats in the predawn hours to avoid heavy ramp traffic. If you launch your boat at this time, it’s best to turn on your boat’s navigation lights so you can see where it’s going and other boaters can see it when you put it in the water. It’s also good to keep your trailer lights on in the parking lot as you prepare to launch your boat.
When you finish using your boat and load it back up the ramp, you should clean, drain, and dry it. “Clean, drain, dry” is a best practice that helps boat owners keep their boats in excellent shape. It prevents watery critters, such as zebra mussels, from nesting in different areas of your boat and damaging it. During this process, you should remove weeds from your boat and its trailer. You should also drain the bilge, live wells, and bait wells. Then make sure that everything dries out after you load your boat. This process helps you maintain your boat effectively throughout its lifespan.
Why do we know so much about boat ramp etiquette? Finance Solution provides financing to boat dealerships. We help them work with their customers to secure the right financing options for their financial needs, so we understand how important relationships are. We want you to understand boat ramp etiquette so you can develop good relationships with the boaters around you.