Preparation is critical for boat launching to be a smooth operation.
Most ramps have areas designated for pre- and post-launch activities.
You should always use these areas and never (even if the launch is empty) do your preparations on the ramp itself. This is just plain rude and shows no consideration to other users.
Clogging a boat ramp simply equates to bad ramp etiquette and the cause of many arguements.
1. Launching the boat.
- Evaluate the pitch and length of the ramp as compared to the length of the boat and trailer.
- Line the boat and tow vehicle up with the ramp in a straight line.
- Prepare a bow and stern line for easy retrieval and make sure any plugs are installed prior to launching.
- Back down the ramp slowly, using someone at the back of the boat to guide you. Make sure the wheels don’t drop off the end of the ramp.
- Submerge the trailer only as much as necessary to float the boat or roll it off, depending on which type of trailer you have. Keep in mind that if you have a multiple axle trailer, if you back one or more of the axles over the edge of a drop off, the remaining axles will be supporting the weight of the boat, unless, of course, the boat is supported by its own buoyancy.
- When the boat is clear of the trailer, make sure there is nothing still attached, such as the bow strap or cable, then slowly pull the trailer from the water.
2. Leaving the Ramp.
- After launching your boat, quickly park your vehicle and trailer. This should be a pretty simple operation, but keep a few things in mind. First, off launches can be busy places filled with families and moving rigs, so always drive with caution and be alert for youngsters.
- Try and minimize the footprint your vehicle and trailer leave when parked. I’m often amazed at how much space some people use when parking rigs on an angle, not backing up fully into a spot, or several other creative space-hogging maneuvers that leave other boaters shaking their heads.
- Keep in mind that as often as launches are busy, they can also be void of activity – making them prime spots for theft. Don’t leave valuables in your vehicle and keep things out of site.
- When parking your rig, make sure you use the parking brake, especially if on an incline.
3. Retrieving the boat.
- Evaluate the pitch and length of the ramp as compared to the length of the boat and trailer
- Line the tow vehicle and trailer up with the ramp and back down the ramp slowly
- Submerge the trailer only as much as necessary to float the or roll the boat on, depending on which type of trailer you have. Keep in mind that if you have a multiple axle trailer, if you back one or more of the axles over the edge of a drop off, the remaining axles will be supporting the weight of the boat, unless, of course, the boat is supported by its own buoyancy.
- Gently drive the boat onto the trailer as recommended by the manufacturer using the trailer’s winch as directed by the type of trailer you own. – Once the boat is straight on the trailer, double check to make sure the bow is latched to the winch and all lines are free from the undercarriage of the trailer.
- Gently pull the trailered boat forward, making sure not to spin the vehicles tires. Once the tires start spinning traction has been lost and it will be almost impossible to remove the trailer from the ramp. If the wheels start spinning, try to add more weight to the rear of the tow vehicle. Be careful about having people climb onto the bump of a tow vehicle as this could create an accident.
- If the tires continue to spin, gently apply the parking brake while simultaneously applying power, alittle at a time until the wheels grab the ramp surface, and the rig moves forward.
4. Long term maintenance.
- After each use, the trailer’s brakes should be flushed with fresh water, regardless of whether you submerged it in fresh or salt water.
- Use a petroleum based solution to wipe the tires and prevent dryrot.
- Periodically grease the axle hubs, making sure not to overfill grease retaining hubs. This could blow out the “o” ring seals and promote premature failure.
When driving your boat from the ramp, keep your eyes peeled for signs regulating no-wake zones. Of course, as a general rule, it’s best to not blast-off from theramp to ensure you don’t make waves for other users. Also, most ramps are close to shallow water; so don’t let your enthusiasm get the best of you. Take your time and slowly drive to deeper water before getting on plane. Otherwise you might find yourself returning to the ramp sooner than you think with a damaged motor and/or hull.