Boat Ramp Etiquette


One of the most frustrating ways to start a day on the water is pulling up to the ramp and having someone that doesn’t know the unwritten rules of boat ramp etiquette. We have all been there when someone is on the ramp and they have everyone backed up. Let’s go over a few of things you can do to make sure you are not that person slowing down others launching at the ramp.

  • When you arrive at the ramp do not pull straight onto the ramp and start preparing the boat. There is no need to prep the boat right on the ramp when there is normally plenty of room in the parking lot where you can get everything ready and not be in the way.
  • Prep the boat for the water the same each time you arrive at the lake. This is going to help you out with not forgetting to do something before you pull on the ramp and launch the boat. Start at the nose of the boat removing the winch strap, working down one side getting life jackets out, working to the back removing the straps, transom saver, put the plug in, prime the fuel line, put the kill switch in, turn your graphs on and whatever else you may need to do. If it is dark put your lights in now and give them a test before you hit the water and realize they aren’t working. The important thing is to get the boat 100% ready for the day on the water before you pull on to the ramp.

  • Practice, Practice, Practice! Before you try to launch the boat and back the trailer down the ramp head out to a local parking lot with enough room and practice both looking back and using your mirrors to back the trailer. This will be useful for when you pull up to a busy ramp and are comfortable with backing a trailer.
  • Turn your head lights off, this is huge especially when launching or loading in the dark. When you are about to swing to line up with the ramp is the time to turn them off and go with just your hazards or running lights. Once you are backing down the ramp there is no use for your head lights and all you are doing is blinding the other people at the ramp trying to back down the ramp.

  • Stick to one Everyone has pulled up and there has been a boat that is using 2 lanes to launch and has everyone else on standby just waiting. This goes back to practicing so you can position the trailer in a single lane and not multiple.
  • Get a set of cheap walkie talkies to have one in the truck and boat. There are times when cellular service is not available at the ramp and there may be a lot of noise where the vehicle driver and boat driver cannot hear each other. Instead of yelling back and forth, it is so much easier to have a set walkie talkies where you can talk back and forth and help each other out without having to scream at each other.

  • Once you have launched find a parking spot that is not difficult to get in and out. If the lot is empty there is no reason to park on top of additional vehicles and trailers, be courteous and give everyone some extra room if possible.
  • If you see someone that is having trouble at the ramp don’t go off on them and instead ask them if you can help out and maybe teach them a thing or two. We were all new to launching a boat at one point in our lives and helping someone out will go a lot farther than just yelling at them! Stay safe and have a good time out on the water

  • Finally, a couple tips if launching alone. Make sure you utilize a ramp on the side and do not take up the middle of the ramp, if possible. If there is an area to beach the boat rather than tie up to the dock take advantage of that to open the ramp up faster. Be as fast and safe as possible if there is a line of boats waiting to use the ramp. Don’t be afraid to ask for some help if you have a buddy at the ram that is waiting to put in, we have all been there and no shame in getting a little help.