Boat Ramp Courtesy  By Capt. Gus Gustafson

Courtesy at the boat ramp is no different than the considerations given others while going through a serving line. Simple things like waiting your turn, being thoughtful of those ahead and behind and executing the unloading or loading process quickly, will go a long way toward making everyone’s day enjoyable. For those new to boating, the following considerations will help make your next trip to the boat ramp less traumatic.

First and foremost, prepare the boat for launching in the designated staging area. Do not block the ramp. Duties such as loading ice chests, fishing tackle and equipment, removing tie-downs, detaching trailer lights, inserting the drain plug, and attaching bumpers and dock lines, should be completed before getting in line to launch the boat. Once at the ramp, the time spent launching should be kept to a minimum. In the event of motor problems or issues that might cause delays, pull the boat from the water or float it to a position away from the launch site.


Among the most frustrating things to watch at a ramp is a novice attempting to back the trailer into the water for the first time. Everyone has seen the drill. The trailer moves slowly backwards until it runs off course and has to be pulled forward to begin the process all over again. While this might seem funny to some, it’s frustrating to the driver and an aggravation to those waiting in line. Backing a trailer is no different than other new ventures. To become efficient, it takes coaching and practice. If you want to save the embarrassment and scorn of fellow boaters, practice in a field or empty parking lot before going to the ramp.



Photo by Steve Hillebrand, US Fish and Wildlife Service

If you think launching a boat with the help of others is difficult, try launching it alone. Even the most experienced boater might like assistance on a hectic weekend day at the ramp. Be a Good Samaritan and lend a helping hand, even if it’s only to hold a dock line during the launching process.

At the end of the day, be aware that there will be a line of boats waiting for their trailers to be backed into the water. Again, it is important to be courteous and not cut ahead in the line. Once loaded on the trailer, move your rig to the staging area to the right of the ramp. It is usually in the same general area away from the ramp where the boat trash containers are located.


Tip from Capt. Gus:

When backing a trailer into the water, don’t rush it or become annoyed or frustrated. When all else fails, seek help from fellow boaters at the ramp or wait until the crowd subsides to try again.


Capt. Gus Gustafson is an outdoor columnist and a full-time professional fishing guide. For more information, visit or call 704-617-6812


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