Written by: Tim Linehan, Linehan Outfitting Co.
One day this past season I hit the boat ramp after a great day of fishing here on the Kootenai River with the intent of pulling my boat out quickly so I could get my clients on the road for their flight home. But that was not going to happen. When I pulled up the ramp was clogged by a group of three rafts and a couple kayaks. Despite the ramp being built to accommodate two trucks at a time, a single vehicle with a trailer was in the middle of the ramp. If that wasn’t bad enough, the crew of people proceeded to off load their crafts, store gear individually into the truck once piece at a time, and effectively tied up the ramp for forty-five minutes.
Blocking a boat ramp for an extended period of time, say more than fifteen minutes, is totally unnecessary at the least and actually rude at the worst.
Here are the five most important tips to keep in mind to help you manage your time better at the boat ramp. Trust me: You’ll make more friends this way.
1. No Cutting
If there are several vehicles queued up in the lot adjacent to the ramp, wait your turn and be patient. Even if you’re parked nearer the ramp than others, wait your turn or head for the back of the line.
2. Keep the Ramp Clear Until It’s Your Turn to Use It
Until you are literally ready to back your truck down the ramp, stay clear while others are launching. While waiting for your turn to take your boat out, stay clear of the ramp and store your boat or craft well away from the ramp so others can continue to have access.
3. Be Proficient and Safe
Practice backing a trailer before you make your first trip to the river. This will not only keep you safe and prevent an accident, but it will allow you to expedite the process of getting your boat safely down the ramp and into the water or onto the trailer and off the ramp.
4. Do the Busy Work Before and After You Use the Ramp
Rig rods and other gear as much as possible out of ramp traffic before you back down the ramp. And similarly, off load your gear and make final tie downs, etc. after you’ve loaded your boat or craft and pulled it off the ramp and into the parking lot. There is no need to load or unload all necessary gear while you’re blocking the ramp. Launch your boat or take it out as quickly as possible and do all the busy work in the lot so others can access the ramp quickly as well.
5. When in Doubt, Ask.
If you’re not sure about your place in the queue, or about how to proceed with any aspect of launching or taking your boat out, ask someone who looks experienced.
Boat ramps are meant to be used quickly and efficiently. By applying these tips you’ll improve your boat ramp etiquette and make friends at the same time. Your efforts will be greatly appreciated.
Tim Linehan is the owner of Linehan Outfitting Co. on the Yaak River near Troy, Montana.