Boat ramps can be a complicated place. There are usually a lot of people with expensive equipment, trying to use a tight space as efficiently as possible. With so much going on, there are a few rules that luxury powerboat owners should obey. The next time you head to the boat ramp for a day on the water, follow these etiquette tips to make the boat launching experience simple and pain-free for everyone.
1. Use the Staging Area
The boat ramp is designated for one thing: launching your boat. It’s not where you should undo straps and put in drain plugs. Launch your boat quickly and get out of the way for the next person in line.
Most boat ramps have a staging area (or empty space in the parking lot) where you can prepare your luxury powerboat for the water without getting in the way of others who are ready to launch. This is the perfect place to take your time, load all the essential boating gear, and get your boat ready for launch:
- Remove tie-downs and straps
- Load equipment
- Angle engines for approach
- Insert drain plug
- Check that battery and motors are in working condition
Once you’ve gotten your boat ready for launch, it’s time to get in line for the boat ramp.
2. Respect the Flow of Traffic
Especially in the summer, it’s not uncommon for boat ramps to get crowded. Like driving on the road, make sure you follow any lane or traffic rules in place around the ramp. It’ll help move the process along much quicker and safer.
If there aren’t any clear signs or traffic signals, go with the flow of traffic. Going against the flow is a sure-fire way to damage your luxury powerboat, tow vehicle, or trailer (not to mention someone else’s equipment as well).
3. Wait Your Turn
Lines can be frustrating, but they’re a part of life. No matter how long or frustrating the line may be, you should always wait your turn. Cutting in line is rude to those who have waited their turn and increases the chances of damaging your equipment. You wouldn’t do it in a bank or restaurant; don’t do it at the boat ramp.
4. Turn Off Your Headlights Near or On the Ramp
Many boat ramps have multiple launching lanes to accommodate more boats. If you’re launching at night, turn your headlights off when backing into the water. That way, when someone pulls into the neighboring lane, they can see in their mirrors to back down the ramp. Not only is it courteous to other boaters, but it can also help them stay in the lane and not accidentally crash into your luxury powerboat.
5. Stay in Your Lane
Like driving on the road, lane markers are there for a reason. If you find a boat ramp with multiple lanes, be sure to pick one and stay in it. Hogging multiple lanes is poor etiquette and slows down the progress.
Many ramps are large enough to accommodate multiple launches at a time but don’t have marked lanes. In this case, make sure you leave enough space for someone else to launch or retrieve their boat next to you.
6. Bring a Friend
Launching your luxury powerboat can be tough for one person. That’s why it’s always helpful to bring a friend. Having another set of hands (especially someone who’s experienced with launching a boat) can really help the process go faster with fewer complications.
While one person backs the trailer down the ramp, the other can ride in the boat to get it out of the way once it’s in the water. When the two disconnect, the boat and trailer can both leave immediately, clearing the way for the next person in line.
The biggest boat launch faux pas you can make is taking too long at the ramp. Speed up the process by bringing a friend to help you launch.
7. Don’t Block the Ramp
Two things need to happen after you launch your boat. First, you need to park your trailer and tow vehicle. Second, you need to get your boat out of the launch area. The longer you take to accomplish both tasks, the longer your equipment ties up the ramp. Make sure you move your equipment in a timely manner to let others use the ramp. This is why it’s a good idea to bring a friend!
Even if you follow boat launching etiquette and bring a friend, be sure to keep the process moving. Don’t wait until you’re at the ramp to load your coolers and socialize. Get in, launch your boat, and leave. There’ll be plenty of time for socializing out on the water.
8. Be Wary of Where Your Park Your Boat
Once your boat is in the water, you’ll need to wait to pick up your friend who parked the trailer. While you’re waiting, make sure your luxury powerboat is out of the way so others can use the ramp.
The best option (if you brought a friend) is to idle in the water nearby and wait. When your friend gets close, head over to the dock and pick them up.
If you go alone and need to tie up your boat to park the trailer, do it on the far side of the dock, away from the ramp. That lets people continue to use the ramp while you park your tow vehicle.
Never tie up to someone else’s boat at the dock without asking. It’s very inconsiderate. You wouldn’t like someone tying up to your luxury powerboat without asking, so don’t do it to others.
9. Don’t Power Load Your Boat onto the Trailer
Power loading is when you touch the trailer with the nose of the boat and rev the engines to push it as far forward as it’ll go. Yes, it saves you some energy using the winch, but it also damages the launch ramp.
Boat ramps are shallow, and when you hit the throttle that hard, it sends a jet of water into the ground, kicking up sediment and creating a hole in the sand or mud. If enough people do it, the hole can get deep enough to trap trailer tires, making it impossible to pull them out of the water.
It might take more effort, but the best way to trailer your boat is to approach at a normal loading speed and use the winch to pull the boat the rest of the way onto the trailer. It’ll keep the boat ramp in good shape for years to come.
Launching Your Luxury Powerboat
Boat ramps seem to be a world of their own. They have rules and etiquettes all boaters should follow to be courteous of others. In general, the main idea is to make launching your luxury powerboat as quick and efficient as possible. The faster you get in and out, the more courteous you are to your fellow boaters.