Boat Ramp Etiquette

By: J.Dean

There are approximately 595,000 registered boats in the state of Texas, that number increases yearly and inevitably leads to crowded conditions at Texas boat ramps. Unless we educate ourselves on common courtesy while using the ramp, I'm afraid there might be new laws enacted to protect those less experienced captains.

As anglers we have all heard the term "it takes a lot of patience to be a fisherman", but if you frequent the boat ramps along the Texas Coast, you know as well as I do that patience is lacking. That might explain why fishing can be so relaxing for some of us, we're so wound up by the time we leave the boat ramp there's only one way to go, and that's down.

I do understand peoples frustrations, I'd be a liar if I said I was never frustrated at the boat ramp, but at the same time, I'd never allow that frustration lead to me losing my cool because someone is "taking to long". Unfortunately not everyone thinks alike, and as the case with road rage, there are people that will lose there cool and do who knows what. Those people need more help than we can give them in this article, but until they get that help, there are some things we can do to avoid those situations.

While this article is less than exhaustive, it should provide a pretty good guideline for those looking to enjoy their time on the water, and avoid ramp rage.

Before you back down the ramp.
Prepare your boat at far end of the parking lot, or while in line if at all possible. This includes installing the plug, removing straps, loading gear, readying lines, checking fuel, finding the key, turning on battery switch, or anything else you might do prior to launch.

When it's your turn, back down the ramp, get your boat off the trailer, and move your truck to the parking lot. You should never load gear on the ramp while others are waiting in line to launch. When you back down the ramp the boat should be ready to go.

If you have mechanical issues such as the engine won't start, either launch the boat and tie off to a dock, or leave the boat on the trailer and move to the side. One should never "work" on the boat while blocking the ramp to others.

Most anglers launch in the pre-dawn hours, backing a boat in the dark can be difficult for some in crowded situations. Do everyone a favor and turn off your headlamps while waiting in line, it could get YOU on the water faster if the guy ahead of you can see what he's doing.

Returning to the ramp.
When you return to the ramp, approach the ramp area and tie-off to the waiting dock, never tie off in the ramp area blocking others from using it.

Once your boat is on the trailer, raise the propeller and immediately move the boat to the far end of the parking lot or out of the way of the ramp, only then should you proceed to remove plugs and gear and install straps. etc.

Launching and loading your boat should be routine, you should at least have a mental check list that you go over as you prepare to launch. By being prepared you'll avoid that last minute rush that inevitably leads to forgetting things, such as putting the plug in the boat!

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