Trailering Magazine Archives - Featured Articles
Etiquette at the Ramp
Having a loud conversation on a cell phone in a restaurant, the inability to say "thank you" and taking a full shopping cart into the express checkout lane at the grocery store rank as just some of our culture's most major guffaws.
A recent survey revealed most Americans (79%) believe rudeness in society is a serious problem.
And then there are the boat ramp stories
In these days of too many boats and not enough launch ramps, thinking about "all of us" rather than "me" becomes all the more important for boating safety and time well spent. As a result of concern that too many new boaters are on the water without a clue about "seamanship," much less manners Sterling Publishing has reissued and updated Chapman's Boating Etiquette which will be in stores this month.
BoatU.S. Trailering first ran a story about boating etiquette in October 2000. Because cooperation between boaters on land and on the water can sometimes be the difference between a good day and a bad day or between an accident and just a close call, this new edition of Chapman's Boating Etiquette is essential.
Arriving at the Boat Ramp
BoatU.S. message boards (www.my.boatus.com/forum), from time to time, will tell a story of how one inconsiderate boater can delay others at the boat ramp. In the same spirit, the antics of a newcomer to boating is sometimes described in "The Off Ramp" section of this magazine (page 36). Here are a few suggestions that will keep you from being the topic of message boards and trailering magazines:
- While waiting in line or prior to backing down the boat ramp, this is the time to move everything from the tow vehicle that will go onboard (coolers, clothing, equipment etc). Doing this when the boat is in the water will only make the wait for those behind that much longer.
- But don't remove everything (see "The Off Ramp" in this issue). Unhook the boat from the winch once it is in the water. While the person with you walks the boat to the dock, move the tow vehicle and trailer up the ramp and park in an appropriate area. By doing this, the next vehicle in line gets access to the ramp. Don't make others wait while you're having a discussion with your crew about where to go or else those waiting for will happily tell you where you can go.
- If someone is having trouble at the ramp, offer to assist. If this is your first time with a boat in tow, practice backing your boat and trailer between a few plastic cones or between a pair of parking spaces in a large parking lot prior to arriving at the ramp (schools on weekends and shopping malls early in the morning are two common venues for doing this). If you are new, try to avoid the peak periods (i.e. a summer weekend).
- The trailer parking spaces should be used for tow vehicles and trailers only. If you are an invited guest and you arrived in your own car, park away from the ramp in a standard parking area.
- If you are the one asking for assistance, limit the questions. Focus on the issue at hand and thank the boater who has provided the answers. While many boaters are good natured and want to help, it's not appropriate to start asking how to bleed the brake lines after they've helped you properly back the trailer into the water.
- Have a routine at the ramp. Know what needs to be done and how it should be done. This will make your time at the ramp go faster.
- When returning to the boat ramp, drop off the person who will get the trailer at the dock and then wait for them out on the water. When the trailer has been backed into the water, then it's time to bring the boat into position for retrieval.
- Once the boat is on the trailer, secure the safety chain to the bow eye and move up the ramp. Secure the tie-downs and return equipment and coolers to the tow vehicle in a staging area at the top of the boat ramp but away from traffic going up and down to launch and retrieve.
- If a boat is passing you in a channel, slow down. This allows the boat to get by quicker.
- If anchoring near other boats, allow enough room to swing without coming too close to other boats at anchor in the event of a wind shift.
- Use the VHF radio for the purpose of obtaining information. If you want to have a chat with someone else on the water, use the cell phone. And while we're on the topic, keep requests for a "radio check" to a minimum. Channel 16 is for initial contact between boats and for contacting the Coast Guard.