By Mark Romanack
With Captain Terry Kunnen
Even a large boat like this 30’ model can be launched and loaded quickly
with a little advance organization.
HAVE YOUR LAUNCH FEE READY
When you pull up to a boat launching facility have your launch fee ready to go. If you have the exact change the process goes much faster and allows the attendant to serve more anglers in less time.
GETTING READY IN THE PREP AREA
One of the biggest problems at boat launches is anglers show up on the ramp without having their gear or boat ready for launch. Most launches have designated prep areas that are designed to provide an opportunity for removing the travel cover, loading coolers and fishing gear into the boat, removing the trailer straps, installing navigation lights, etc. Having these steps taken care of before the boat hits the ramp will make the process of launching much faster and free up the launch for other anglers as fast as possible.
On the ramps that don’t have these pre-launch prep sites, drive around to the trailer parking area and get the gear and boat ready for the water. When the boat is water ready, drive around and loop and launch the boat. This simple step speeds up the launching process and prevents other anglers from getting frustrated.
STRAP ON OR STRAP OFF?
Depending on your trailer type the ratchet strap that attaches the bow of the boat to the trailer will need to be on or it can be removed before backing down into the launch ramp. For roller style trailers keep the strap attached to the bow eye until the boat is in the water. For bunk style trailers it’s okay to unhook the ratchet strap when prepping the boat.
The one exception to this rule is when fishing in freezing conditions. The bunks of a fishing boat trailer can easily glaze over with ice and allow the boat to slip off the bunks if the ratchet strap isn’t firmly in place. In freezing conditions it’s always a good idea to leave the ratchet strap in place until the boat is floating.
LAUNCH THEN PULL AWAY
|Take a few minutes in the boat prep area to load gear into the boat and|
get the cover and straps off before backing down to the launch ramp.
After launching, pull your boat away from the dock a short distance and simply idle in the channel while waiting for your partners to return from the parking lot. This frees up the launch for other anglers to put their boats in the water and greatly speeds up the flow of traffic.
When your partners show up at the dock, simply idle in, pick them up and head out for a great day on the water.
DROP OFF AND GO
At the end of the day when it’s time to load the boat, idle up to the dock and drop off someone to go and get the vehicle and trailer. In the meantime, pull back away from the dock so other anglers can do the same process.
Tying up the dock while waiting for a partner to fetch the vehicle is a waste of time and an inconvenience to other fishermen or boaters who want to use the ramp. Some ramps have designated launching and loading lanes, but the majority of public access sites require boaters to both launch and load from the same dock.
LOAD UNDER POWER
Power loading or the process of completely powering your boat up onto the trailer is illegal at most public access sites. While power loading is frowned upon, that doesn’t mean you can’t use the outboard to get the boat started onto the trailer. Simply idle the boat onto the trailer until the hull contacts the bunks. If the trailer is backed into the water far enough that the bunks are mostly submerged, the boat should easily slide onto the bunks and only need to be ratcheted up a foot or so.
Walking the boat up to the submerged trailer takes far more time and ties up the launch needlessly. This process requires the ratchet strap to be pulled out most of the way and it takes considerable time to hook up to the boat eye and reel in all the ratchet strap.
HELP A GUY OUT
|Captain Terry Kunnen of Off Shore Tackle spends a lot of time at boat|
launches. Following his tips will make the launch and loading process
These simple boat launching and loading rules of etiquette will go a long ways towards making fishing fun and taking stress out of the equation.