A guide to boat ramp etiquette
After you've towed your boat to the water, you need to get it in there - and that means using a boat ramp. A simple enough task, but you need to be considerate of others when doing so.
There are a few unwritten rules about what you should and shouldn't do - here's what you need to keep in mind when using a boat ramp.
Get sorted before you're at the ramp
Good boat ramp etiquette starts before you even get there, with your preparation at home. You don't want to be sitting at the bottom of the ramp fixing and organising things that could have been done earlier, as you're just going to frustrate others who are trying to use the ramp.
The night before, crank over the engine to make sure the battery isn't flat. If it is, you'll have the night to charge it up. If you can, you should also give the engine a start before you leave home. That way when you get to the ramp there'll be no need to prime the fuel or use the choke - just turn the key and away you'll go.
Load your boat as much as possible at home too. Sure, you can't put everything in there as it can get damaged during transit but the more you can have prepared the better. Once you've arrived, do any final boat loading away from the ramp or off to the side - don't hold other people up by loading your boat in the middle of the ramp.
Remember the golden rule
If there's one thing you need to remember, it's the golden rule: treat others how you'd like to be treated. If people faffing about on the ramp really crunches your cornflakes, don't do it yourself. You should only get in the line of vehicles at the ramp once you're ready to launch. When it's your turn, back your boat into the water - if the ramp has two or more lanes, be sure to only use one. Remove the winch hook and safety chain. Push the boat off the trailer gently - if a driver is on board, they can take the boat to a pickup point while you pull the trailer out. Otherwise, tie a rope to the bow and guide the boat to a point out of the way of other ramp users.
Boat ramps are busy places where everyone is eager to have their turn. When you're considerate and quick, everyone can get their boat on the water a lot faster.
Load with the winch
When it comes time to load your boat back onto its trailer, use the winch whenever possible. Driving it on can damage the hull if you're not spot-on with your aim. If you've ever seen a beautiful boat with a bunch of dings and scratches on the lower half of the hull, it could be the sign of an owner that clumsily loads their boat onto its trailer.
Not only that, power loading can damage the boat ramp, undermining the concrete pad to the point where ramps can become unusable, according to Roads and Maritime Services NSW.
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