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

By: Luke Simonds on July 9, 2018
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Top 5 Boat Ramp Mistakes

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.

Learn more about the Insider Fishing Club

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:

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

Conclusion

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!

Related Posts: 

1. Are Bananas Really Bad Luck On Boats? [PICS & TRUE STORIES]

2. What Fishing Boat Do You Actually Belong On? [QUIZ]

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Delbert Young
Member

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
Member

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.

Ron Rincones
Member

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
Member

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.”

Mike
Guest
Mike

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
Guest
Troy Westerbur

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
Member

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.

Steven Free
Member

Yea unfortunately your right with more boaters in the state then ever before patience is defiantly a virtue I have been fishing and using a boat probably longer then you have been alive about 40 years now but it never ceases to amaze me how many so called anglers don’t launch right and or are very rude when it comes to using a boat ramp I used to not have this problem very much because I only fished during the weekdays but alas I now have become a weekend angler because like most jobs my new job is only off during the weekend but I use all your techniques when I do launch but to give you a hint if you really want to avoid the b’s of crowded boat ramps especially during the weekend summer months go Night fishing that’s what I do and am very seldom bothered by unnecessary launching hassles great tips and video thanks for all you do😁

Dean Carter
Member

Common sense is not very common thesevdays.

Tim Hutchinson
Member

I think a bigger problem is between regular boat owners and kayakers trying to put in as well in proper etiquette between boats and kayaks. I have seen a lot of regular boaters I think they have the right to push kayakers the side just because they have a motor vehicle. Big issue brewing. I’m a trailer owner and I have trailer my kayaks and I think I have ever ready just like butters to put in at the boat ramp in line with the others but there is a stink.

Tim Hutchinson

Nick
Guest
Nick

So what he’s saying in a nut shell is….use your common sense and a little courtesy and all should be smooth. (common sense will be the battle)

John Wolfe
Member

Good set of tips!

Tony Acevedo
Admin

To add another good point:

I primarily kayak fish and I see a lot of my fellow kayak anglers use the boat ramp to launch their yaks. This is a big no no, unless of course you have a trailer. Kayaks can be launched off to the side of a ramp, or practically anywhere. Hogging up a boat lane is unnecessary and gives us all a bad rep. If there is absolutely no where else to put in, I give the boaters the right of way, and then quickly drop the kayak in when they are done and put it off to the side. Most guys are nice if you were there first and let you drop in, but don’t park and unload every piece of equipment while in the ramp lane.

Best advice is to get yourself a kayak cart. This way you can park, load everything up and quickly drop the kayak in without being in the way of others.

Bob Glassen
Member

I trailer a big Hobie kayak. I do my best to prep everything before I’m on the ramp but I’m just going to be slower than a guy that can put a fully loaded boat on a drive on trailer. One thing is that’s it’s often not safe to get in or out of a kayak tied to the dock. So I have to leave it beached on the ramp when I park or get the car. I leave it as far to the side of the ramp as possible but it’s still on the ramp and maybe in the way on a narrow ramp. It’s also not easy to cart it or get it on and off the trailer fully loaded. If there’s not a long line I let the boat people go ahead of me but some days I need to ask people for a little patience.

Joseph Sherer
Member

I’m with you Bob, at an older age I can’t move as fast as I once could and I don’t have the strength I once had, but I still love to fish. I do my absolute level best to get my hobie pro angler 12 in and out as quickly as I can but sometimes it will just take me longer than others. If someone offers to help me I am quick to allow them to do so provided they look trustworthy. Sometimes there are factors out of our control that make some of us slower than others. Patience can go a long way sometimes and is truly appreciated by some.

David Culver
Member

Should be common sense to most. There is always that self centered selfish idiot that thinks the world should make room for him. Thank you SS for spreading the word on decency. However, I suspect the ones that need to be reading this won’t even care to read it. They have that “#not me” syndrome.

Dan Smith
Member

Before I had a place on the water and I did not have to deal with boat ramps any more, I would see these things happen almost every morning I went out.

Here is a good suggestion for people in the Salt Strong community that will help in general as time goes on: While waiting in line, go down to the dock and help other less experienced boaters. Not all people have years under their belt and they WANT to do the right thing, they just haven’t figured it out yet.

If the line is more that 3-4 people long and especially if I have a buddy with me, I’ll get out and man the dock. I’ll help people with their lines and offer suggestions that hopefully will stick in their minds the next time they go out.

Teaching people the do’s and don’ts in this manner will help a lot more things stick in their memory than if people just start yelling at them. Hopefully they will learn by the Good Samaritan example along with other people watching and pay it forward at other ramps.

This is also a great help to experienced boaters who are out alone. An extra, knowledgeable hand at the dock to mind their lines and boat is always appreciated.

I’ve never gotten into an argument with a rookie boater if I started out helping them – they’re usually appreciative. If everyone helped out, the ramp would probably be a place of far less tension. Just my opinion.

Joe: another topic for the future – Sandbar Etiquette. Pulling up to sandbars to walk around and fish on foot requires respect for the environment. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watch a boat pull up to a sandbar and instead of gently landing the boat, setting an anchor, and stepping out quietly to stalk fish, they beach their boat by gunning the motor and digging a 3′ trench with the motor wash while clouding up the water for hundreds of yards downstream. Don’t even mention when they forget the tide is going out and they use all their motor’s HP to pull them off the sand – digging another 3′ gully in the other direction.

John Wolfe
Member

I love guys that help others like this. 🚣🏻‍♀️

Dave Otte
Member

This is real good Dan! You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar! Good idea!

Luke Simonds
Admin

Great suggestions Dan!

Lawrence Scaduto
Member

Agree totally with helping other boaters if I’m just waiting to launch myself. On a recent holiday weekend, they were at least five boats lined up waiting to launch. Another boater and I went around assisting everyone that was either launching or retrieving to help them and move the line faster. The result was that the mood at the launch site was great. And we all got to accomplish our goals that much faster! Sitting in your car bitching at the guy that’s taking his time to launch or retrieve is not helpful at all.

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

When I was coming back from kayak fishing I saw a guy back his jet ski down the ramp and did not unclip the safety line and he drove up the ramp and drug the jetski up the ramp a bit with his wife and 2 kids watching. We helped him put it back on the trailer and he secured it to the trailer and he left totally embarrassed. I felt bad for them.

Thomas Thomas
Member

Used to fish mostly out of Keaton Beach. Great day trip that was 90 or so miles from home.

The private marina closed a while back and everyone’s trying to put in and take out at public ramp now. A busy public ramp brings out the worst in people. Scallop season magnifies that. Have run across some real self focused and entitled folks at the ramp.

As much as I love fishing in the Keaton Beach /Spring Warrior areas I’ve sworn off. If I can’t put in somewhere else I’d rather just stay at home and do yard work.

Steven Free
Member

You do realize of coarse that this is florida a state that has more water around it then some countries there’s ALWAYS somewhere else to go I’m sure if you did some exploring you could find another ramp I know to me yard work sucks so even a hectic day of waiting to launch to me is better then any work but hey that’s just me 😊

Thomas Thomas
Member

Of coarse. : )

I didn’t quit fishing. In fact I spend a fair amount of time at St George Island/Apalachicola. Was there all last week and also for 4 days in mid-June. Just too far for a day trip, which I enjoy.

Need to fish out of Spring Warrior. Just need to find out where all the rocks in the creek are.

Steven Free
Member

I also got another suggestion one that I’m surprised not to many guys do around here and that’s night fishing to me the fishing better you don’t have to fight the heat and there’s hardly anybody else out there such makes the fish less spooky and the action around the docks at night is awesome but hey I look at it if guys during the summer want to fight the heat and the crowds go for it that just means more for me ha ha anyways what ever works for you take care and godbless😊

Truett Senterfitt
Member

Great video! I certainly hope everyone sees this!

Doug Hutwagner
Member

I have an etiquette question. If I go out on the weekend, I will get on the water early and back to the ramp early, but when I come back there is a long line to launch . There are 2 ramps and a floating dock to tie up to. The question is when I want to take my boat out, do I wait on the long line or do I cut to take the boat out. Some one told me I should get on the end of the line and wait, but because there is only a floating dock with space for max or 3 boats, I need to get my boat out to make more room at the floating dock. What should I do ?

Luke Simonds
Admin

In that scenario, I believe that the most respectful thing to do is to tie your boat off in a place that is as far out of the way as possible, and then wait in the ramp line.

David LaPointe
Member

Please leave winch with the dog engaged connected to your boat until you are at the waters edge. Have seen many dreams shattered as a boat goes sailing off the trailer either with the winch handle spinning out of control or just fly’s off unencumbered.

Luke Simonds
Admin

Great addition… I once saw a guy who forgot to hook his boat up while pulling out and the entire boat slid off of his trailer and onto the pavement. Since then, I have always made sure to keep mine hooked up at all times when the trailer tires are out of the water.

Steven Free
Member

Got a tip for you Dave take a rope and attach it to the bow eye of your boat then the other to your truck after you remove the winch hook that way when you launch the boat will never be that far that you can’t pull it up to you and get in that’s how I launch works every time considering 90 percent of the time I fish alone just saying😊

David LaPointe
Member

I usually just backdown unhook and go. Never had any issues.

Jose Aceves
Member

Great advice and video here. I think there should be some kind mandatory training on boating etiquette in general before you can register a boat. This doesn’t only apply to the weekend angler, I have observed a fishing guide cleaning fish on his boat while parked next to the dock taking up parking space for other boats wanting to load up with a line of 3-4 boats in water waiting to load up.

Luke Simonds
Admin

I agree. Even some very experienced anglers make seemingly obvious mistakes.

Daryl
Guest
Daryl

You may add turning off your headlights for early mornings or evenings and leave the park lights on. This will blind the next guy backing down the ramp.

Luke Simonds
Admin

Great suggestion Daryl!

Robert Lee
Member

I have a heavy boat with no rollers. Wetting the forward pads down, before powering the boat on reduces friction. Does anyone have any added suggestions?

Ced Stone
Guest
Ced Stone

Get a good set of rollers fitted, a power winch, or a good hand job winch and some muscles.

Chris Severt
Member

Liquid rollers is awesome stuff. I have a Twin Vee skiff that rides very high on a pretty short trailer, so only the back 1/3 or so of my bunks ever get wet. It was nearly impossible to launch my boat alone before I discovered liquid rollers. After applying liquid rollers I HAVE to leave my winch connected or the boat wants to slide off before it’s even in the water.

IFish2
Guest
IFish2

I’ve seen boaters park their boat in the launch lane preventing its use while they go get their vehicle to pick up the boat.
All the while others are waiting in line for ramp use. This happens at Veteran’s Park ramp in St Petersburg, FL. What is the proper etiquette for getting boats out while others are trying to put their boat in?

Luke Simonds
Admin

I believe that the proper etiquette is that the person/crew who is next in line with the trailer has top priority. Otherwise, the nice people who drop off the drivers on the dock and then pull away with the boat to stay out of the way of everyone else would never get their boats out.

John Frymier
Member

That is excellent advice, Luke. You should send it to the FWC and let them post it as a Public Service Announcement. As someone who has to work during the week, II see all this ridiculous stuff – I launch very early, but get involved in the mess when I retrieve around noon. People who apparently haven’t started their motors for years, their batteries are dead, they can’t back up the trailer, the plug is out, you name it. If I wasn’t waiting to retrieve my boat, this stuff would probably be hilarious.

Luke Simonds
Admin

Thanks Dave!

Gordon Stallings
Member

Thanks for the discussion. It is amazing what you see at ramps. I do appreciate those that have it down so well they resemble a professional pit stop crew. Boating safety and piloting tips always welcomed.

Luke Simonds
Admin

Thanks Gordon!

Lee Ashe
Member

THEY ARE MANY BOAT OWNERS THAT NEED BOAT LAUNCHING AND LOADING 101, WHICH IS BASICALLY COMMON SENSE COMBINED WITH ETIQUETTE.!!!
I PRAY THEY WOULD MAKE A PILL TO FIX STUPID!!! OH WELL SUCH IS LIFE!!! SALT STRONG BROTHERS AND SISTERS

Luke Simonds
Admin

Yes, there absolutely should be a boat etiquette 101 class required for anyone who is purchasing a boat:)

Phlypper
Guest
Phlypper

This would actually be a decent business: boat coaching. It would be hands on using the owner’s boat, vehicle, etc. Showing them how to load and unload. How to follow channel markers and lights. How to use GPS, VHF, etc. How to set an anchor or how to tie spring lines.

I have done this for several neighbors and family members that have moved to Florida for retirement (no charge, of course).

Robert Vaughn
Member

Thanks Luke. I witnessed all 5 of these boat ramp etiquette errors and then some July 4th at a very busy Indian river ramp. Add this as #6. Don’t pull your boat up and dock it along with your buddy’s boat and proceed to clean the fish that you caught when there is a perfectly good cleaning station that the county has provided.

Luke Simonds
Admin

Thanks Robert! Sorry to see that you faced some inconsiderate people recently. Hopefully they come across this post:)

Deborah Matherne
Member

Great advice from you all. our father taught us all these and more when we were 13 and 10. I was in the truck and he was in the boat (I’m the older.) In and out of the way in 3 or 4 minutes. He taught these rules to us as common courtesy as boaters.

When I taught my boys (twins of 45 years now) we did it all in less than one minute. They would get off the school bus at home and we would be at the ramp in our community, boat in the water, car and trailer parked and cruising out of the no-wake zone ready to ski in 10 minutes.

I once heard about a guy who launched his boat, got in it, and then just put-puted away leaving his truck, trailer and all on the ramp AND he took the keys! A simple release of his emergency brake and hopefully he never did that again 😉

Luke Simonds
Admin

Glad to see that your family has been passing these rules down for generations!

That is a lot of nerve to leave the boat and trailer right on the ramp… his parents surely were not boaters.

Kenneth Johnston
Member

Thanks, thanks, thanks. At a future time you should get stealthy and film a Holiday Weekend at the Ramp. I’ll bet it will be a hoot.

Luke Simonds
Admin

Thanks Kenneth! Yes, no telling what a constantly running camera would pick up at a popular boat ramp on a holiday weekend:)

Bruce Somers
Member

Great post. I’d add some other tips
1.Practice backing up your boat trailer BEFORE attempting to launch it.
2. Make sure you have all of your tending lines ready, properly attached to the boat and accessible.
3. IF you have someone going with you make sure you discuss the launch/ retrieve plan and how you will communicate directions

Luke Simonds
Admin

Great additions Bruce!

Norman Black
Member

Wouldn’t it be nice if every weekend boater had to watch this video before launching. I don’t fish the weekends for this reason. I fish alone on most days and get in and out guickly. Thank you Luke

Luke Simonds
Admin

Thanks Norman! Let’s hope that many people share this post so that many new anglers see it.