Public Ramp Boat-Launching Tips for Beginners


When you’re new to boat operation, there are several moments of truth that occur as you begin to accumulate experience: docking, anchoring, trailer loading on a windy day, navigating a tricky waterway, etc. None is more intimidating than public ramp boat launching. Seasoned boaters can regale you with a litany of mishaps, follies, horror stories, and altercations that they’ve observed by watching people launching a boat at a busy public access site.

Veteran boaters make boat launching at a public ramp look easy. Truthfully, it’s usually not difficult, but nerves, peer pressure, and impatience can affect the process. The following tips will help you negotiate this routine, especially if it’s new to you.

Practice First. Don’t make your first attempt at launching be at peak time, when everyone is trying to get on the water. The better you are at being able to back your boat trailer up, the easier it will be to get it in the boat ramp lane and into position for boat launching. Where can you practice trailer maneuvering? How about an empty parking lot at a mall? Put some cones or plastic tubs outs for lanes and learn how to back between them. Being able to maneuver your boat trailer well is critical to a smooth boat-launching experience. Major Tip: learn to use your side mirrors. Also, when you do make your first visit to the launch ramp, try to do so at an off-peak time, like mid-morning on a weekday.

Have (and use) a checklist. There are certain things you always do when launching a boat, and you don’t want to overlook any of them. Here’s the checklist I use. If you keep it handy and refer to it, you’ll avoid problems.