How To

    Warning: Bad Boat Ramp Etiquette Can Get You in the Water – Hot Water

    Picture this – the sun is shining, there’s a gentle breeze and your mood is sky high as you head to the lake for a fun day on the water. However, at the boat ramp is a fellow who has backed his trailer down the ramp and is now slowly poking around his boat, obviously looking for something. As the line of people waiting to launch their boats grows, you can almost feel the irritation radiating from the crowd. Suddenly your perfect day feels partly cloudy.

    It doesn’t have to be this way, though. Boat ramp traffic jams can be prevented if everyone practices common courtesy. Following these simple steps can help everyone hang on to their happy mood.

    Any boater safety course graduate will tell you, it pays to prepare your boat for launching or for the drive home well away from the ramp. This will allow others to continue launching and retrieving their boats.

    • Use at least two experienced people to launch and retrieve the boat—one to drive the towing vehicle and one to operate the boat. If you have to launch and retrieve the boat by yourself, place wheel chocks behind the wheels of the towing vehicle.
    • Never block a ramp with an unattended boat or vehicle. Move the boat away from the launch lane immediately after removing it from the trailer. Return briefly to pick up the vehicle driver once he or she has parked the vehicle and is back at the ramp.
    • When retrieving, do not pull your boat into a launch lane until the towing vehicle is at the ramp. The line is formed by vehicles with trailers, not by vessels in the water. Drop off the vehicle driver, and wait offshore and clear of the ramp until he or she arrives with the trailer.

    You can learn more about boating safety by taking an online boating safety course at The training offered at this site is approved by the state agencies responsible for boating safety education, and it’s the same material that’s taught in the classroom.

    Studying at is free. Those who must be certified before they can buy a boating license pay a one-time fee, which is due only if they pass the test. Students can take the test as many times as they need to pass it. Online boater safety courses are available in participating states, so visit to take a course specific to your state.

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