I can’t remember a year going by without witnessing mistakes and accidents made by novice boaters, or in some cases folks who are just plain inconsiderate when launching their boats. I’ve seen it all too often and it’s sad but people tend to get ramp rage when the conditions are right. Especially on high traffic boat ramps where many people can launch at the same time.
These first two tips can and should be done at home before you get to the water.
batteries are the angler’s life line, without them your dead in the water. I see this mistake quite often, a guy goes to put his boat in the water and it doesn’t start because the batteries are dead. Now he’s blocking the ramp, trying to swap batteries or figure out what the problem is and causing other prepared boaters to become upset and ramp rage will soon set in.
So make sure your batteries are charged before you get on the water. Marine batteries do not hold a charge when they sit for long periods of time such as over wintering. I use an onboard three bank charger (charges three batteries at one time) that I installed in my battery compartment.
These units today are very compact and can be purchased online or at any outfitters store such as Cabela’s. Just plug it in to an 110v house receptacle and your batteries will stay charged and maintained while your boat is not in use.
Make sure you motor will start before you arrive at the ramp. This is especially important the first time you try to start it for the season. The best way to do this is use a motor flush tool. You can find these tools from any marine dealer to a Wal-Mart.
Connect a water hose the motor flusher tool and position it on your motor where it normally picks water up from, this is around the prop area. Once the water flow is on you can hit the key and begin to turn the motor over to make sure the motor will start and run, rev the engine gently a few times to blow the dust out of it and the let it idle for awhile.
Now that you have prepared your boat soundly and mechanically at home it’s time to head to the lake or river. Once you arrive at the ramp you will need to do a pre launch check again so we don’t take up time and space at the ramp.
Prepare to Launch:
Prepare your boat for launching in the parking lot away from the ramp and out of the way of others before you back down to the water. Remove the tie downs, the transom saver, installing your plug and loading your gear or anything else that would prevent you from taking up space on a crowded ramp.
Be ready to launch promptly once you back down the ramp. If you are launching by yourself, you can use a long rope to assist you in a successful launch.
One man launching technique:
Here is an easy to make launching rope and a great method for launching a boat when you are by yourself.
Simply attatch one end of the fifty foot launching rope to the trailer wench or tow vehicle and attatch the other end to the u bolt on your boat.
This allows you to back your boat off of the trailer, while maintaining control of the boat. Now remove the rope from the trailer or tow vehicle and pull it to the bank or dock.
Remove the launch rope from the boats u-bolt and store away for the next time. Now tie your boat to the dock or throw your anchor on the bank so you can park your tow vehicle.
50 foot of at least 3/8 in. nylon rope
2- Snap links
Roll of black electrical tape
Tie one snap link the end of your 50 ft. rope with about three over hand knots, tape the tag end of the rope to the main line of the rope and secure the knot. Repeat with the other end of the 50 ft. rope and your ready to launch.
Remember your Plug:
For some reason this is a very overlooked but probably the most important step in launching a boat. There’s nothing worse than getting down the lake and realize your taken on water. Don’t feel bad, it’s happened to me a few times.
But most of the time you will realize something is wrong by the time you get back from parking the tow vehicle and you can get it back on your trailer to drain.
Backing a trailer:
even though I can’t give proper instructions on how to back a boat online, I can give you some tips that will help in the situation.
Backing a boat down the ramp is another reason you will witness ramp rage, a not so good boat backer that takes up the whole ramp will probably get some rude comments from the other folks that want to launch their boats.
If you’re not comfortable backing your rig, take it somewhere like a big vacant parking lot or field to practice your backing skills.
Remember to always engage your parking break before you put your vehicle in park, this will help you save on transmission issues. I have seen transmissions fail causing the tow vehicle to plunge to the depths.
Once You Launch:
Move your boat away from the ramp to a dock or shoreline and throw your anchor or tie your boat to the dock, so you can quickly get your truck and trailer off the boat ramp for the next guy waiting.
When Loading Your Boat:
Back your trailer in, load the boat on the trailer, trim the motor up, secure the bow to the winch and tighten. Now you’re ready to pull the boat out and away from other folks trying to launch or pull out.
Once you have gotten out of way you can start to prep your boat for the road, attaching your tie downs and motor tote along with removing your equipment from the boat.
Launching or loading a boat is not that hard, it just requires a little forethought and some common courtesy and respect for others.
If you plan ahead, you will save yourself some time and prevent unnecessary ramp rage.