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A little planning, organization can make boat launches uneventful

As we wade a little deeper into summer, I often preview the Fourth of July holiday and summer vacations with a safety reminder for anyone spending time in, on and around our lakes, rivers and reservoirs. So I'll reiterate the only guarantee for a memorable outdoor excursion is for all participants to return home safe.

But it's also important to return home relaxed and refreshed, and one good way to have that outcome spoiled is a frustrating boat landing or launching issue.

If you don't believe me, think back to one of your last trips to or from your favorite lake. Maybe the boater ahead of you wasn't prepared. Or maybe it was you who slowed down the loading and launching process and others didn't appreciate it.

Whatever the case, here are a few tips that may prevent a little drizzle on your outdoor fun when it comes to getting you and your boat on the water.


-Don't pull onto ramp until your boat is ready to launch.

-Prepare for launching in the parking area. Remove covers, load equipment, remove tie downs, attach lines and put in the drain plug before backing onto the ramp.

-When ready, pull into line to launch. Wait your turn. Be courteous.

-It takes at least two people to efficiently and courteously launch a boat: One to handle the boat and one to take care of the tow vehicle.

-Launch on the designated side of the ramp.

-If you see someone struggling while launching - help them.


-Know which side of the ramp is designated for loading.

-Don't block the loading area with your boat until your tow vehicle is ready to load.

-Wait until you are clear of the launch area to unload gear.

-As soon as your trailer is in the water, load and secure your boat to the trailer.

-Remove your boat and trailer from the water as quickly as possible.

-Get clear of the ramp. Pull into the parking area to finish securing your boat and unload gear.

-If you see someone struggling while loading - help them.

Many of these points are simply common sense, courtesy and just being friendly. This should be relatively easy as the goal for all is to spend more time enjoying the outdoors and less time waiting. You can choose to wait at the ramp and watch as another boat owner struggles to get the boat landed, or help each other out and enhance everyone's time outdoors by lending a hand.

The bottom line is that all of us who enjoy water recreation have a similar mindset - to get in and on the water as quickly as possible and return in same fashion. Rather than complaining or getting frustrated, we can all improve the process if we take a few minutes to prepare and be willing to help out each other.

In the end, safety and courtesy together make everyone's boating experience a little more memorable for all the right reasons.

Leier is a biologist with the Game and Fish Department. He can be reached by email at Read his blog daily at