It’s a common sight –you see boat owners eagerly getting in line to wait for their turn on the boat ramps and launch their vessels. For those who are new to recreational boating, you should know that waiting to launch or retrieve your boat will not always be a pleasant experience. There will be delays, incidents, and tempers flaring every now and then. However, all of these can be easily avoided by following the public boat ramp safety tips and etiquette.
Before You Leave
Never leave your home without checking you have everything first. Make sure that aboard the boat you have all your safety equipment, including the trailer hitch, safety chains, tie-down straps and life jackets for each passenger. Run the motor once to check that it will start easily and that the battery is fully charged. Ensure that you have enough fuel. Lastly, check if the vessel is secured properly to the trailer and the trailer is safely connected to your car.
Before Queuing For The Ramp
Park in an area where your car will not block the traffic flow. Get all the items that you need from the car and store them carefully in the vessel. Put the switch in the ignition and make sure to switch the battery on. To bring fuel to the engine, make sure to pump the fuel bulb. Take away the tie down straps and connect the winch handle to the trailer winch. Then, connect the bow rope to the boat and remember to check the bungs.
Note: Move your vehicle into the waiting line only when you are done. If you’re a first-time boater, observe other boaters to learn how proper boat launching is done. Also, take your time to check the water depth, the flow of the water and any slippery areas on the ramp.
Launching Your Boat
When it’s your turn to launch, make sure all children with you are safely seated on the vessel wearing life jackets. Make sure that no one is behind before reversing the trailer into the water. Disconnect the safety chain then disconnect the winch to push the boat off the trailer and into the water. Remember to maintain control of the boat. Using the bow rope, lead the boat away from the ramp.
If there is someone driving, ensure that the engine is at a good height. Start the engine then have somebody push the boat off the trailer so that it can move away from the ramp.
Note: If the ramp is wide enough to launch two or three boats at the same time, make sure give space for other trailers. Keep your trailer to the side if possible. Before stepping out of your car to launch your boat, ensure that the handbrake is on and the gear is shifted (or parked). This will keep your car from rolling down the ramp. Once the boat is launched, remove your car from the ramp immediately so that the next in line can start launching as well.
Make sure that the trailer is safely connected to your car and it has not been tampered with before driving to the ramp. Ensure that the length of the winch rope should be long enough to retrieve the vessel. Winch the boat slowly into the trailer, then activate the winch brake and connect the safety chain.
Once the boat is secured, tow the trailer away from the ramp and the traffic flow. Switch off the battery and secure tie-down straps, the tow lock, and all safety equipment.
Note: You need to time appropriately the queuing of the boat for retrieval and the vehicle for towing to avoid any hassle. The key here is to have a good coordination among your crew so that you can retrieve your vessel as fast as you can.
Practice Boat Ramp Safety and Etiquette
Remember to be considerate of others when launching or retrieving your boat. Practice a good routine so you can go about the boat ramp procedure more efficiently and make sure to put safety as a priority. Do all these and your boating experience will be better than ever.