Image Courtesy of Fishing Michigan Dept. of Conservation

LAUNCHING AND RETRIEVING – By Faye Smith (SmithSkiff)

Boating used to be the sport of gentlemen and ladies. You were able to count on certain codes of behavior from your fellow boaters and they could rely on you to adhere to those same unwritten codes.


If you have launched or retrieved your boat at a busy ramp lately, you are painfully aware of the “It’s all about ME” mentality that prevails. No longer is it about using patience, waiting your turn, and lending a helping hand to your fellow boaters. The impetus now seems to be, “Get there before the next boat” and “Blocking the ramp as you wait for your boat to appear”! We haven’t taken the time to learn the unwritten gentlemen’s codes that has kept the Launch/Retrieval process running smoothly for generations. Perhaps we need a refresher course.

The next time you approach a busy launch area, it may be helpful to keep the following things in mind:

LAUNCHING AT A BUSY RAMP: WAIT YOUR TURN! USE PATIENCE! BE POLITE!

1. BE READY TO LAUNCH WHEN YOU ENTER THE LAUNCH AREA. So many boaters today pull into the launching area and THEN get out to remove the covers and tie downs, put the boat in order, put out the burgee and colors, and load the coolers, skies, tubes etc.. Get all of that done before you enter the area and be ready to launch your boat.
2. MAKE SURE YOUR ENGINE WILL START BEFORE IT LEAVES THE TRAILER. If you have someone driving your vehicle, have them back down the ramp until you can safely start your engine. When it starts, THEN back off of the trailer.
3. WHEN YOU ARE CLEAR OF THE TRAILER, MOVE YOUR BOAT OUT OF THE WAY. The driver of the vehicle will take it to the parking area and come back down to get into the boat. Only at that time should you approach the dock and only then long enough to pick up your passengers. If you are alone, then of course you will need to tie up to the dock while you move your vehicle and trailer, but don’t take longer than is necessary, people are waiting.

RETRIEVING YOUR BOAT AT A BUSY RAMP:

1. BOATS, DO NOT GET IN LINE FOR RETRIEVAL UNTIL YOU SEE YOUR VEHICLE AND TRAILER. Unless you are alone and need to get your own vehicle, your driver should be in line waiting with your vehicle and trailer in the same order as the boats are lining up for retrieval.
2. VEHICLE/TRAILER DRIVER, DO NOT GET IN LINE UNLESS YOUR BOAT IS PRESENT AND WAITING. So many times drivers get into the retrieval line, blocking traffic, and adding to the confusion and their boat is nowhere to be seen.
3. WHEN IT IS YOUR TURN, MOVE AS QUICKLY AS SAFETY PERMITS. Make sure that your boat is safely and securely on the trailer.
4. MOVE OUT OF THE RAMP AREA: So many times boaters will pull up the ramp into the retrieval area, stop, and begin to unload, tie down, and cover the boat. Move your boat and vehicle into a less crowded area such as a parking lot before you start to ready your boat for travel. It will give the boats behind you more room to maneuver and take some of the stress off of their driver.
5. TAKE YOUR TIME, BE SAFE! Try to keep in mind that we are all in this together. Offer help IF you can be helpful; stay out of the way if you can’t. Others will make mistakes, be rude, get angry…. That doesn’t mean that we need to respond in kind.

A Holiday at the Launching Ramp

If we follow these basic guidelines, the Launching & Retrieving process will be a Holiday at the Launching Ramp.

Thanks Faye!

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7 Responses to “Launching & Retrieving Your Classic Boat – “It’s All About ME””
  1. Randy Rush-Captain Grumpy

    All so true. I have to say when you have a wood boat people tend to cut you a little more slack -almost respect at the ramp.

  2. matt

    Its true. I did have a guy on a jet ski who just kept going by to look at the boat. Not realizing that he was creating havoc. That one cost me a scratch or two.. I want to install cannons on my boat to shoot at jet skis.. There i said it.. %^^&*#@$(%^%#)$)#^)#&^@_^_ Wow, that just hit a nerve!

  3. anonymus

    Get ready before you hit the launch the lapstrake codes.
    Great vintage shot!

  4. Scott Robinson

    I know several couples that used to make a picnic lunch and go watch the launch ramp antics for entertainment ! So true , Scooter

  5. Al Benton

    In our area the old unwritten rules are still followed fairly well at the ramps, even by the grumpy, impatient folks. They’re just louder than the rest of us (who usually do our grumbling under our breath). When help is needed it’s usually the grouchy ones that steps forward to lend a hand.

    Try launching at 5:00 am with a hundred fishing boats with the same idea of getting on the water before the sun comes up. I couldn’t believe how smooth this went, like a well oiled machine. It was amazing, pleasure boaters should do this at least once.

  6. Rick

    People here are usually very well behaved though it is fun to watch some of their antics. When I launch my classic there is usually more help offered than I can use, as there are very few in my area, and a lot of people want a closer look. Talking to everyone about it is half the fun of owning one.