Boat Launching Tips & Etiquette

By Capt. James McManus

When this article comes out it will be close to Election Day. There is nothing I hate worse than the back-and-forth of political ads. Thankfully, it will be over soon and regardless of the outcome, the world will continue to turn, the sun will come up, and fish will eat. This year, with everything that’s happening, I am not surprised that local lakes have been packed. Some states have reported a 60 percent increase in license sales. If nothing much good comes out of the elections, at least this can be looked at as a positive. With this increase, there will be more novices both on the water and, more obvious sometimes, at the boat ramps. Here are a couple of tricks to make your trip more successful and those around you have a more enjoyable experience.

First, be aware that you aren’t the only one at the ramp. Even if you are at first, more folks will inevitably show up. Do not pull into the top of the ramp and start loading your boat. That’s what the parking spaces are for, get everything ready and keep things clear for others. If you are new to boating, don’t be shy about asking for help. We all had to start somewhere and better to swallow a little pride than eat a piling or run something other than your boat into the lake; even better than asking for help, for the first couple of times, bring experienced help with you. Once on the ramp, don’t remove your crank and safety chain until the trailer tires are barely in the water. If you have ever tried to reload a boat that prematurely slid off the trailer halfway to the water, it’s a lesson you will never forget. Also, I should mention that you should remove the transom tie downs in your aforementioned parking space. A boat that is still tethered to the trailer can lift the rear wheels and I have seen 3 submerged vehicles that simply rolled into deep water because the rear wheels were lifted by the attached boat and trailer. The next step depends on your boats specifics, if you are able, and have a designated captain, simply start the boat and slowly back in once the boat starts to float. With only a single captain and vehicle driver, you can tie off the boat with rope and get out and pull it in, or let someone hold the rope but make sure the person is strong enough and does not get pulled into the path of the trailer as you pull out.

When returning, the most important thing is to slowly approach the landing area and again remember that you ain’t the only one there. Beach or tie off your boat and quickly reload and hook crank and chain and don’t forget to trim up your motor. Again, at the top of the ramp, continue into a designated parking space or loading area before disembarking. Redo your tie downs and give thanks that, once again, you have returned to terra firma unharmed.

These are only a couple of tips, there is an endless stream of does and don’ts when it comes to boating; the NC Wildlife website has lots of helpful hints that are especially useful for once you get launched. Take advantage of the beautiful fall. In the water you have some of the best views of our mountains and some of the jet skis have been put away…it’s a great time to be out there. Thank God for our beautiful waterways and don’t block the ramps; remember the golden rule. Later, Capt James.

Capt. James McManus is the Owner of 153 Charters. Give him a call for a great day of boat fishing!

Coastal Angler & The Angler Magazine