Before you can enjoy a day out on the water, you need to know how to properly launch a boat. Launching your boat properly will help you avoid damage to it and can mean that you can get out on the water quickly. Learn more about the etiquette and best practices when launching a boat, as well as what’s best to avoid when getting your boat on the water.
When it comes to using a boat ramp, be courteous. Others need you to get your boat in the water and your trailer out of the way before they can do the same. Try to prepare your boat for launching as much as possible before you get to the ramp. Doing so will reduce the time you spend at the ramp and will reduce the wait times for other boaters.
It’s likely that different locations will have different rules you must follow when launching a boat. For example, the National Forest Service has different prohibitions for boat launches at various locations in Daniel Boone National Forest. One area of the forest does not allow for motorized boats, whereas other places do not allow fishing or swimming near boat ramps. Some ramps require a fee before use. Other national and state forests and parks may have similar rules regarding boat ramp and water use.
Always check the local rules for the body of water before you launch your boat at the ramp. Doing so will help you avoid serious ramifications. Breaking the rules in national parks or forests could mean a hefty fine, imprisonment or both.
You won’t find every ramp use rule written in a guide. Some guidelines are considered etiquette that every boater still needs to know. The difference between these etiquette tips and regulations is safety. While etiquette guidelines focus on respecting other boaters, the formal rules keep everyone safe on the water. Both are critical to ensuring that you and all other boaters enjoy your day.
Before you get to the ramp, check your boat. You should have disconnected your boat from the trailer lights, attached a safety rope to the bow, stored all your necessary equipment on board, inserted the boat key in its ignition and inserted the drain plug. For safety, though, you should keep both the trailer’s safety chain and winch strap attached until you move the boat to the water.
In addition to preparing your trailer, you need to get yourself ready. If anyone in your party needs to go to the bathroom, have them do so before you get to the ramp. Also, check the ramp area to be sure it allows for launching. Some places will have separate launch and retrieval locations.
Look at the water and the area around the ramp for any obstacles that could delay your launch. For example, if you spot driftwood or algae, move it out of the way as much as possible.
Explain everyone’s assigned tasks in launching the boat if you have guests. Children need to get out of the towing vehicle and stay nearby. Keep them out of the way of both the boat and truck. Others may help to watch the children or assist you in guiding the boat toward the ramp.
Fill out a float plan before you hit the water. Make sure to leave a copy with at least one person onshore. In case something happens, the authorities will have an idea of where you intended to go for the day.
Once you have prepared everything, you can get your boat to the ramp.
You can launch a boat by yourself, but you may need some practice at maneuvering the boat and towing vehicle into place. Here are a few launching tips to make the process a little easier. The procedure for how to launch a big boat is similar to launching a small boat. However, make sure your towing vehicle can haul the large vessel and buy towing insurance to cover accidents.
Getting a boat from the trailer to the ramp is always the first step. While you should do this process quickly, don’t work so fast that you make mistakes. Follow these steps for launching your boat from a trailer:
Once in the water, you still need to get your boat off the trailer. You must also move it to the end of the dock.
Moving the trailer into position gets your boat to the ramp, but you still need to disconnect it from the truck and maneuver it out into open water. Here are the steps to follow for that part of the process:
If you have to do a one-person boat launch, you still follow most of the same procedures as when launching with two people. The difference is how you push the boat off the trailer and guide it to the dock.
When launching your boat, you want to avoid several common mistakes. Some of the most frequent safety and etiquette errors include:
While most of the steps to load your boat require the reverse of actions you did while launching your boat, you need to know all the details about loading your boat back onto your trailer safely and quickly.
Just like you want to avoid hogging the ramp during unloading, you want to get your boat out of the water and away from the ramp as quickly as possible. Other boaters likely will wait for you to finish. Proper boat ramp etiquette requires you to use the ramp only for loading and unloading your boat from the trailer. Don’t use this point to take equipment out of your boat or to chat with friends.
Formula Boats wants you to have a safe and speedy boat launch. We also want to help you enjoy other aspects of boating and life on the water. Explore our site to see the types of customizable boats you can purchase for your day on the water.
You can choose from a wide range of options, including both pulse-pounding performance boats and luxurious yachts at Formula Boats. The best thing about our craft offerings is the ease of customizing your boat from the ground up. If you want a boat that truly fits your personality and lifestyle and has no match at the marina, our FormulaFlex program is for you. With it, you can choose upholstery, electronics placement and exterior colors for your boat. For questions about our boats or to learn how to take the first steps into customizing the boat you want, contact us today.