By Mark B. Fridl
Those of you who have a slip are very fortunate indeed. Your boat is always ready to go, and in the water. But for the rest of us, who have to dry sail, we have to tow our boats to the water, and launch and recover them for every outing.
Nothing ruins a day afloat like some person hogging up the ramp. At the beginning of the trip, it is an ominous omen that things may be not going right, or we have just picked a lake that has too many boaters on it. At the end, it may just be the last frustration in a bad day of fishing, either way, you feel that the boating faternity has let you down. Let’s see if we can eliminate the hard feeling between fellow boaters.
First, when you get to the ramp to launch, park away from the ramp. Walk down to the ramp, and check it out, for jetty locations, things which may hamper your launch or recovery like a drop off, or other obstruction underwater. Next, prep your boat to launch. Get everything ready, from the gas in to the straps off, and most of your gear in. Don’t forget to pull your light connection apart so you don’t have hot lights hitting cold water. This will eliminate one source of lights not working. When the ramp is clear, back in, and prepare to launch. Set your parking brake, and if necessary block the front wheels to prevent rolling into the lake. Get your boat into the water, and away from the actual ramp, either bringing it to the other side of the jetty, or moving it further out so others can move in when you pull out. Tie up, pull your truck and trailer out and into the parking lot. Bring the rest of your gear, be sure you have enough PFD’s and other things, and shove off for a day of fun on the water, knowing that you didn’t tie up the ramp.
When you return at the end of the day, remember that people are coming and going all the time. Approach the jetty and ramp on a disengaged side, that is away from the action, either again on the opposite side of the jetty or at the end of the jetty. Tie up here, and go and get your trailer and truck. When the ramp is clear, back in and set your parking brake and if necessary block the front wheels. Once your trailer is ready to recover, go get your boat, and recover it to the trailer with the least amount of time spent doing it. Leave your gear in the boat till you have recovered it. Winch onto the trailer, pick up your blocks if you have them out, release your parking brake, and pull out steady, and pull ahead to clear the ramp. Now that you are away from the ramp, remove your gear, set your motor for towing, pull any drains, strap it down to the trailer, hook up your lights, test them, and you are on your way.
A simple bit of ramp courtesy will make for an enjoyable day on the water, and if your fishing trip didn’t go so well, at least you had a good time, and getting in and out was pleasurable. Happy and safe boating to all of you from the old timers of Dry Sail!