Launch Ramp Etiquette

Boating is fun. Fishing is fun. And the combination is outstanding. There is one hurdle that we need to clear before we turn the bow towards our favorite hot spot and that is the boat ramp. And with that being said, some of you are probably chuckling while others are getting steaming mad.

I have the same mixed emotions myself, and when the ramp turns into a circus my patience drains really fast. Rather than let my frustration ruin the day I’ve taken to helping out where I can. Some folks don’t get out on the water as much as they’d like to and that shows through their lack of experience. So here are a few hints that might make sense should you see someone in need. A little help goes a long way in the short run and in the long run you’ll help educate some of the folks who just need to be pointed in the right direction.


  1. Have all of your mechanical issues worked out prior to getting into the launch line. Make sure batteries are installed, liquids like gas and oil are full, and that electronics are operational.

  2. Add fenders and bow and stern lines to your dockside cleats. If you use an additional launch line then attach that as well.

  3. Stow any gear: safety equipment, tackle, food and beverages, and the like.

  4. Check any nuances before you get in the boat line. If there is a strong current add some additional launch lines and grab a few helpers. If the full moon tide is super low be sure that when you trade pavement for gravel that the water depth matches your boat’s draft….and that the terrain isn’t too soft for you to successfully haul your trailer back up.

  5. Pick a lane. Hogging both sides of the ramp during prime time won’t win you any friends.

  6. Pick a lane that best suits your launch profile. In this picture the trailer occupies the right side of the ramp….and the boat is on the left side. Since the left ramp was empty why not use that side and simply pull your boat to the dock? You’ll leave room for other boaters to launch as well.

  7. Leave room in between boats. As you can see here, the Whaler is having a hard time getting in the water because the sailboat is too close. A simple fix is to pull the sailboat back on the dock finger until you’re ready to haul.

This summer, don’t let the ramp get you all worked up ‘cause it’ll put a damper on your day. Take a few moments to help out those who could use a few pointers. I’m sure they’ll appreciate your help. If you’re looking for more boating tips click on the link to check out the boating section on the Take Me Fishing site.

Tom Keer

Tom Keer

Tom Keer is an award-winning writer who lives on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  He is a columnist for the Upland Almanac, a Contributing Writer for Covey Rise magazine, a Contributing Editor for both Fly Rod and Reel and Fly Fish America, and a blogger for the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation’s Take Me Fishing program.  Keer writes regularly for over a dozen outdoor magazines on topics related to fishing, hunting, boating, and other outdoor pursuits.  When they are not fishing, Keer and his family hunt upland birds over their three English setters.  His first book, a Fly Fishers Guide to the New England Coast was released in January 2011.  Visit him at or at