Sitting By The Dock (In The Way)

By BoatUS Trailering Editors

It may sound like a popular song, but it's a tune too many hear.

Photo of launching a boat from a dock Unlike what is happening here, when you leave the boat to take the trailer to the parking lot, it's common courtesy to move the boat to the end of the dock so others have room to launch.

Here's the scene at the boat ramp: A boat is launched quickly (that's good), the boat is tied to the dock (also good), the tow vehicle pulls away and is parked (that's good, too), and the next person in line backs down the ramp with their boat trailer but stops midway because the boat at the dock is in the way (that's not good).

This is an all-too-common topic on boating forums. Along with it come adjectives like "irresponsible," among others, and most of this is the result of the boater not being selfish but, instead, just not knowing any better. Still, some ramps, including those operated by Miami-Dade County Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces, have added this to their posted launching rules after numerous boaters complained about having to wait for someone to return from parking their truck: "After launching, move vessel as far back to the rear of the pier as possible so others may launch."

The Seattle Parks and Recreation launch ramp staff has a similar system in use right now. "We don't have this as a rule in terms of it being on a sign," says ramp supervisor D'Juan Brown, "but we have staff who will ask launchers to push their boats back to the end of the dock after launching so someone else can launch while they park their vehicles. There were a lot of complaints five years ago about having to wait, and this was one reason why boaters were upset and threatening to go find another lake. We have practically no long waits at the ramp anymore."

William Boik, Michigan Department of Natural Resources Programs and Grants Manager who is part of the design team that oversees the state's 1,100 boat ramps, says blocking a boat ramp is one of the biggest issues he's faced. "We don't have signs," he adds, "and we don't have a boat ramp lane for different skill levels, but we are building ramps with staging areas so a boater can move their vessel to the other side of the dock. It was becoming a problem because some of our ramps have parking far away and someone leaving their boat close to the ramp had to do a lot of walking to their truck. Boaters catch on pretty quick and while it's not a rule, it's boat ramp courtesy."

Multiple-lane boat ramps usually don't encounter a problem like this but on busy weekends, it's also been known to happen.

The good news is, after a few trips to the boat ramp, an inexperienced boater soon learns about this "rule," whether written or not.

To learn more about etiquette at the ramp read our Why Manners Matter At The Ramp article. 

— Published: Winter 2013


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