5 tips to keep things running smoothly (and feeling neighbourly) on the boat ramp


As well as being prepped, patience and courtesy go a long way

While using boat launches and docks over the years, I’ve witnessed fellow boaters yelling at each other, making rude gestures and even having fist fights. To help keep tempers from flaring, here are some simple launch etiquette pointers we should all follow.



Before backing your boat down the boat ramp, stop in the parking lot and transfer all your gear from your vehicle into your boat. Then all you need to do is back your boat into the water and drive your truck to a parking spot, speeding up the launching process. The same applies to coming off the water. Instead of removing gear from your boat while it’s still on the ramp, pull ahead and out of the way so another boater can back in.


Launch docks are only meant for getting in and out of boats. Once your boat is off the trailer, either pull it to the far side of the dock or float nearby while waiting for the vehicle driver to park and return to the dock. When coming off the water, drop off the vehicle driver and do the same thing until the trailer has been backed down the ramp.



When launching or waiting to come off the water, take your turn. Butting in line will only make others angry. If you need to drop off a passenger or pick up someone standing on the dock, check with any other boaters first. If they’re floating and waiting for someone to come to the dock, ask them if you can sneak in ahead, assuring them you’ll be out of the way as quickly as possible.


Quickly get your boat out of the way


Backing up trailers, docking, loading and unloading boats takes years to master. Everyone wants to be good at this, but sometimes they simply aren’t. It’s likely you weren’t a pro your first time out, so if someone is going slowly or having problems, be patient. And if you don’t have anything positive to say, don’t say anything at all. Getting someone flustered will only slow things down further.


The simple act of holding a rope, helping pull a boat to the far side off the dock or simply holding a boat steady often helps others and puts a positive spin on the day.