Boat Ramp Mistakes: Top 5 Blunders That Cause Fights [VIDEO]


If you’ve ever spent time at a boat ramp, you know it can be one of the most frustrating parts of going fishing — especially on a busy weekend. Most of this frustration comes from boat ramp mistakes.

One of the biggest problems at the boat ramp is that many boat owners don’t know the proper etiquette on how to launch their boat.

Tensions can build quickly at the ramp and it’s not uncommon for two boaters to get into an argument because one individual is causing a problem for other boaters trying to launch.

No one goes to the boat ramp wanting to get into an argument and getting into one can put a damper on your whole day of fishing.

We wanted to delve into this topic a little bit more to show our followers the top five boat ramp mistakes and to help them avoid their own boat ramp fight-fiasco.

The Top Five Boat Ramp Blunders

This section will go over the boat ramp mistakes you want to avoid and offers a solution to make sure you avoid these mistakes.

1. Don’t Block the Launch Lane

This is the number one biggest mistake you can make at the boat ramp.

Many boaters park their boats in front of the boat ramp to prep it for their day on the water. Similarly, they’ll take the boat out of the water and park it in the ramp lane area as they pack up their gear into the car. Doing this will drive other boaters at the ramp crazy.

Blocking the ramp lane prevents other boaters from launching their boats and creates long lines and frustrated people. Some people will confront others who block the ramp, which is how most boat ramp arguments are started.

So don’t be that guy. Prep your boat for your day on the water in the parking lot. The ramp lane is for business only — aka to launch your boat.

Check out the graphic below to see the “business only” zone at the boat ramp:

boat ramp no parking zone
Parking in the business only zone at the ramp will frustrate other boaters.

2. Be Prepared with Your Gear Before Launching

This mistake ties back into the first mistake. You want to make sure you prep all your gear for fishing BEFORE you begin the boat launching process.

The best way to get ready before launching the boat is to pull into a space in the parking lot. Once you’re in the spot, pack your rods, coolers, tackle boxes and any other gear you need for your outing in the boat.

This allows you to prep your boat with the necessary gear without blocking anyone from the boat ramp or being in the way in the parking lot.

Launching at boat ramp.
Luke launches his boat with all his needed gear already packed to go.

The biggest thing that makes people blow their stack at the boat ramp is being unnecessarily held up from getting on the water. Taking time to prep your boat before launching will help you avoid a situation that could lead to a boat ramp-argument altogether.

3. Don’t Block the Ramp in the Water with Your Boat

Are you picking up on a theme here?

After you’ve launched your boat, you want to make sure you park at the dock in a way that does not block others from utilizing the boat ramp.

Parking the boat in the water too close to the ramp will prevent others from being able to launch their boats.

This is easily solved by either parking your boat near the end of the ramp dock or parking your boat out of the ramp lane.

The graphic below shows you the where you should and should not park your boat after you’ve launched it:

parking boat at boat ramp dock
Parking your boat at the dock away from the ramp will free it up for others to use it.

By parking your boat at the dock but out of the ramp lane, you allow other boaters to launch without causing an issue.

4. Don’t Cut the Line

This next mistake is not only a boat ramp etiquette tip, but also a tip that basically applies to all walks of life.

If you pull up to a boat ramp and see a bunch of people parked in a line getting their boats ready, don’t think that you can just cut ahead of them to use the ramp because you’ll be ready to launch sooner than them.

The line is there for a reason and it’s courteous to wait for the boat ramp just like everyone else is.

Boat ramp line
Make sure not to cut the line at the boat ramp.

Cutting a line can also cause a major issue with other boaters at the ramp who might perceive you as being selfish for jumping to the front while everyone else was waiting patiently (or worse).

Be respectful and mindful of the line to launch your boat at the ramp.

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5. Don’t Gun it onto the Trailer

This final mistake is one that is not generally well known among anglers or boaters.

When most people put their boats back onto the trailer at the end of the day, they use the engine at a high rate of speed to drive their boat as far onto the trailer as possible. Many boaters keep their engines completely down in the running position when putting their boat back on the trailer.

The force from having the motor down in the running position and gunning the boat onto the trailer causes water pressure down the ramp. This water pressure erodes the bottom directly below the concrete ramp and creates a hard ledge.

Hitting this hard ledge with your trailer or motor can cause irreversible damage to both and is a hazard for all boaters using the ramp.

Loading boat onto the trailer
Luke eases his boat onto the trailer after a successful day fishing.

Easing the boat onto the trailer will get your boat loaded and will also protect the ramp from erosion.

Top 5 Public Boat Ramp Mistakes Video 

In this video, Luke goes over the top five mistakes people make at the boat ramp and why making these mistakes can be problematic:

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Following these tips will help you avoid making these common mistakes at the boat ramp.


Boat ramps are a place for starting amazing days on the water, not for arguing, stress and frustration.

Knowing these simple mistakes will help you get your boat into the water quickly and without issues.

If you’re ever in doubt about what you should be doing at a boat ramp, just remember to be courteous and try not to block other boaters from doing the things they need to get on the water.

If you have any questions about boat ramp etiquette or how to launch your boat, let us know in the comments below.

Tight lines!

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11 months ago

Hi all, I’m new but it seems many people out there don’t exercise common sense. I’m trying to figure out if there is a set rule for who has right of way, the boat leaving the water or the unloaded boat backing down the ramp you are pulling in to?
I waited for a bass boat to clear the way to the dock because they were rudely blocking the dock. When they cleared, I go forward and this truck with boat stops half the way down the ramp to ready his boat to the side I was pulling in to.
I basically asked how I was supposed to get my boat off the water because I couldn’t get my trailer past them.
I could have been more polite in my response, but after waving my arms like an idiot and they obliviously block me, it would fall on deaf ears.
Please help me understand so I am doing things right.

Lloyd Phillips
1 year ago

I call that knot a “quick release knot.” I’ve been using it on horses for 45 years. Taught by my dad.

1 year ago

Even the Parks department has started putting up signs informing boaters of how powering onto their trailer damages the ramp. I have noticed recently that many boaters are less aggressive when driving their boat onto their trailer. Keep putting the word out there. Oh, I like what you said about this is a discussion and not a a lecture, Good job captain!

2 years ago

I wish boaters would be mindful of us bank fishermen and slow down and stay a safe distance away
Maybe not for us but for your boat motors fishing line can ruin boat motors

2 years ago
Reply to  Anonymous

Yes, the need to be respectful of others applies to other people who are launching boats as well as any others who are on the docks or nearby shorelines.

Delbert Young
2 years ago

Yep, those points are all so frustrating to me when I’m wanting to unload or load. One thing I think good also is if you’re alone and have to put in, tie up, and then park your vehicle, move the vehicle before you setup your gear in your boat. I’ve seen people launch, tie up, and then prepare their gear leaving their vehicle sitting in a ramp. Once they get setup, they move. NO! Move your vehicle and then do whatever else needs to be done.
Another thing I see people do a lot is once they’ve loaded, pulled out, gotten everything loaded into the vehicle, and strapped down, they walk off to the bathroom, carry on a conversation with someone blocking the area, etc. No. We need to move out of the way opening the area for the next person.
Just a little consideration goes a long way at a boat ramp.
One more thing. We don’t need to be so proud we won’t ask for help. Sometimes a big boat, especially on a windy day, is very difficult to load alone. People don’t mind giving a hand if asked. Most understand and are more than happy to help out.

Anthony R. Guarino
2 years ago

I had to wait for a guy who pulled his boat down the center of a two lane boat ramp blocking both lanes twice. Apparently once he launched he forgot something and had to pull it out.

2 years ago

I believe there was a #6: When returning to the boat ramp. Drop your people off, then pull away from the dock, and wait for your boat trailer to start down the ramp. There may be many people lined up with their trailers to retrieve their vessel. Don’t just come into the ramp tie up and block the ramp. If it’s just you and other inexperienced boaters, try your best to tie up out of the way, and not block the ramp. And always try to be, patient, understanding and courteous.

Richard Devereaux
2 years ago

I’m a kayak angler. I haul my kayak in a truck – no trailer, no cart, manually unloading/loading the kayak.
Typically I launch/land at non boat ramp locations (one of the “beauties” of kayak angling: “no boat ramp hassles required”). However, once in awhile I use a boat ramp.
When I use a boat ramp I strive to be as efficient and quick as possible. I’ve seen kayakers “clog” a boat ramp, dawdling around, loading/unloading gear, tackle, etc. so I can understand boaters’ (vehicle/trailer) frustrations.
True story from my most recent outing when using a boat ramp…came off the water, dragged kayak off the ramp to side of the ramp. Retrieved truck, backed down to side of the ramp. Loaded kayak and gear, tackle, etc. Off to the side of the ramp, got into conversation with others at the ramp about the day’s fishing. While talking, several boaters used the ramp to launch or load. No problems.
Boater arrives to back down the ramp. Boater IMMEDIATELY begins swearing at me to move my truck (which was NOT in the way). All at the ramp at the time were aghast by this boater’s behavior. The more the boater ranted, the more obvious it was that this boater was intoxicated.
Not wanting the situation to escalate, I moved my truck (although it wasn’t necessary). We then watched this intoxicated boater have to make several attempts to back down the ramp to the water. Glad I did move my truck because, although it was not impeding ramp access, this intoxicated boater would surely have hit my truck had I refused to move it.
Over-indulgence of alcoholic beverages and boating is “an accident waiting to happen.”

2 years ago

The last time I encountered a intoxicated boat loading his boat there just happened to be a sheriffs officer parked across the parking lot need less to say he never made it to the water let alone home that day
Boating and driving drunk carry the same penalty

Troy Westerbur
2 years ago

I have a few of them. Know how to back up a trailer. If the ramp has a dock it is for loading and unloading boats only not gear. Don’t hits boats waiting for the trailers to go into water. I have had all these things happen to me.

Scott Rispaud
2 years ago

I don’t think it was covered by replies, but I strongly encourage hooking up a water supply and start the engine prior to departure to the ramp. Once it’s in the water and won’t start…battery problem, fuel problem etc., you have a problem especially if you have to put it back on the trailer. NOW you’ve upset the “apple cart”. Nothing worse than a boat owner that sits in the launch spot attempting to repair the motor. A boat that sits will give you trouble but a boat that is used all the time can as well.


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