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Boat ramp etiquette makes for a more enjoyable outing

Like paying taxes on your hard-earned money, waiting in line is one of those unpleasant facts of life. No matter whether there is a destination or a chosen activity, all of us should account for the anticipated line time in the planning process. This is true for everything from daily chores to weekday weekends in a busy lake.

If you take advantage of a good weekend weather forecast for boating, you can bet that many other like-minded sailors will be doing the same. While there is plenty of water to roam on most recreational waterways, there is only so much space on the launch ramp. Which means that when you are launching your boat and when you are taking out your boat there may be a row.

For the most part, sailors take the line standing in stride, but frustration can occur when one works and crawls the line movement. Such a gum of actions is usually associated with a violation of launch ramp etiquette, which begins with not considering the impact of the other sailors and not taking steps to minimize that effect. Since there is no directing traffic on the ramp, they alone can go a long way towards keeping the line running.


If you spend enough time watching activity on a busy launch ramp, it will not take long to identify those who are experienced and those who are not. Experienced sailors make little movement and move in and out quickly. Inexperienced sailors, on the other hand, may have a hard time supporting their trailer, and each attempt adds minutes to their launching time.

If you are new to boating, practice spending some time with your boat on the trailer and learn to use your mirrors. Just do it somewhere other than the launch ramp. School parking is an option on weekends or summer days. There you will find both the place to work and the lines pre-painted.

This is a good opportunity to train those who will accompany you on the launch ramp. It never hurts anyone who can guide you in a tight spot, and that means being able to communicate with each other. A sensible set of hand signals can avoid some real trouble.

Imagine how comfortable you would look and how confident you would feel if you could pull the trailer up and back into the water in almost a continuous movement. Your skill will go unnoticed and will be appreciated by your fellow sailors, especially when you get the trailer out of their way.

Having another person, who knows how to backup the trailer or load the boat, can help at the end of the day. Be sure to tie the boat to the courtesy dock or kick your other boat out of the way until the trailer is in the water. In this way other sailors have space to deliver a trailer to their boats if they are first prepared.

Once the boat is secured to the bow, take it off the ramp before removing the cooler, water toys, fishing equipment and other gear.

Another simple thing to keep the line running is to use a lane or staging area prepared for its intended purpose. This is a designated area where sailors can load their coolers, water toys, fishing gear and other supplies for the day before pulling on the ramp. While this seems like a simple step, it takes longer for some people to realize and can be a real line stopper.

Bass Pro Shops US Open

Bass Pro Shops will be the regional qualifier for the US Open National Bass Fishing Amateur Team Championship on Saturday at Colville Bay Marina. Roland Martin will serve as the celebrity weightmaster when the wait-in is taking place at 2:30 in the afternoon, with other family activities going on in the afternoon.

Freelance writer Doug Nielsen is a conservation educator for the Nevada Department of Wildlife. Their “In Outside” column is not affiliated with or endorsed by NDOW. Whatever opinion he states in his column is his own. Find him on Facebook at @dougwritesoutdoors. He can be reached at [email protected]



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