If you are new to boating, you may not believe that the boat ramp can actually be a very stressful place, especially on a summer weekend. There’s a ton of people trying to get their boat in the water at the same time, the kids are in the back screaming, and the precious few parking spots are disappearing right in front of your eyes.
Fights CAN and DO break out at the boat ramp! Sounds like a terrible way to start a day, right? Fear not, there is a way to stay out of going to fisticuffs with someone who’s not handling the pressure well! It’s Boat Ramp Etiquette.
Boat Ramp Etiquette is pretty simple, and effective, if you just follow these simple rules:
1. Do not jump in line
This seems pretty simple. Our ability to stand in lines in our society is really what separates us from the animals. Even if you don’t like what someone ahead of you is doing, even if you think you could do things faster……don’t jump the line. That is a recipe for things to get heated.
2. Do not hold parking spots
So you are 10th in line and you only count 5 parking spots left in the lot. You decide to push your wife or kid out to go stand in the spot. Bad idea. I’ve seen this go sideways so many times. If you stay in the line, and you are good at counting, you should have a spot available once your boat is floating. Don’t risk the safety of your loved ones.
3. Don’t block the ramp with your boat
This one isn’t as big of a deal at a ramp with multiple ramps but at a one ramp park, like Trails End Park in Wilmington, it can grind everything to a halt. Get your boat in the water quickly. Hopefully, you’ve taught someone on your boat how to pull back from the ramp and idle (and then gently pull up to pick you up when you get back from parking). If you haven’t done that, or you are by yourself, at least be on a trot back from the truck. Your fellow boat ramp warriors will feel the respect.
4. If your boat won’t start, MOVE
If your boat, trailer, and truck are blocking the ramp, that is NOT the time to crack open the cowling and start diagnosing. If it won’t crank after a couple of minutes, pull it up out of the way and then you can go to work on it. You should always see if your motor will crank before even leaving to head to the ramp.
5. Know how to back a trailer before heading to the ramp
It’s OK if you don’t know how to back your new boat trailer. No one is born with trailer backing abilities….it takes practice! A Saturday in July is not that time to practice, though. Find a terrible weather day, or a day in the off season, to head to the ramp and practice over and over. Not knowing how to back your trailer on a busy day can lead to you getting nervous and in a hurry. Getting in a hurry can lead to you doing something stupid that will mess up your boat, trailer, or someone else.
6. Be Nice!
This one is the rule that could fix so many problems at our ramps. Just be nice! It’s not hard.
There are some other more nuanced parts of this but this should keep you out of a dustup. New to boating? Our New Boater Training classes might be for you. Let’s navigate the boat ramp together!