There aren’t any written rules about launching your boat at the ramp. There is however a few guidelines that should be followed out of respect for other boaters as well as everyone’s safety. Here are a few things to keep in mind while getting your boat in the water.
– Look out for the young ones. No kids should be in the tow vehicle while launching or retrieving the boat. Kids can accidentally knock a vehicle into gear or take a spill as a boat or trailer rolls up and down the ramp. Ideally, launching and loading should involve two adults — one each behind the wheel of the tow vehicle and the boat.
-Make sure there is always adult supervision when dealing with kids. At the boat ramp there’s always something going on. Slippery pavement, lots of traffic, preoccupied drivers and docks make for a dangerous place for unsupervised kids. You really need a third adult to keep an eye out. While the boat is being loaded into the water and the tow vehicle is occupied, the kids could be getting their life vests on and waiting for their signal to head down the ramp.
-Communication is key at the launch ramp. You always want to allow a clear form of communication between the person in the tow vehicle and the person in the boat. It’s nearly impossible to communicate when you have the windows up on the tow vehicle. Make sure other distractions are taken care of such as the AC fan and the radio being turned off so you can hear one another.
-Make sure you back up in neutral. Once the rig is rolling backward down the ramp, put it in neutral. In this case, reverse and the brakes are not fighting each other. It’s also less likely you will leave the transmission in reverse when it’s time to power the rig up the ramp a mistake that might suddenly propel your vehicle backward into the water. We’ve all seen those memes about cars being completely submerged in the water at the ramp.