Boat ramps

Boat ramps

David Sparks Ph.D.
David Sparks Ph.D.
Boating etiquette: be quick and courteous at boat ramps

Remember everyone was new to boating at some point, so be patient

As summer arrives, more people will be boating and boat ramps can get busy. To ensure things go as quickly and efficiently as possible, follow these tips. And remember that everyone is trying to enjoy their day on the water, so people need to work together. 

Be patient, and don’t let a short temper spoil a good day on the water.

When launching your boat: 

Prep your boat and have it ready to launch before backing down the boat ramp. Have your plugs in, boat unstrapped from the trailer, and everything loaded including coolers, life jackets, fishing gear, etc. This can go a long ways to limit congestion and the frustration that comes with it. 

If the ramp has multiple lanes, take advantage and use any open lane – even a middle one.

If there’s room, launch portable craft, such as kayaks, canoes, paddle boards and other small craft at the edge of the ramp to allow access for trailered boats. 

Move your boat to the end of the dock, or down the beach before tying up to allow room for other boats to launch

When retrieving your boat:

Tie up your boat at the end of the dock, or have a buddy keep the boat offshore while you fetch your trailer. 

Sandals or hip-boots can help. Wading in a bit can speed up the process of hooking a boat to a trailer.

Boat ramps can get sandy and slippery. Anticipate using all-wheel drive modes when pulling out a boat on a slick ramp to avoid getting stuck and blocking the ramp.

If the boat ramp facility does not have trash service, pack out what you pack in, or even pack out a little extra and “fill your net” to help keep Idaho waters beautiful. 

Other helpful tips: 

Remember, boat launches have two-way traffic: “launch on the left, recover on the right.”

If you are new at backing up trailers, practice at home first. Busy boat ramps can be stressful enough already. Everyone had a first season launching a boat, and there are a lot of new boaters out there, and remember you were once one, too.  

Boat ramps are not intended for fishing, picnicking, sunbathing, etc. Find other places better suited for those activities to avoid crowding boat launch facilities.

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