by Jarrod Day
While I was going to rant on this week about Marine Parks and the so forth that has been a hot topic amongst recreational anglers and boater, another important problem I have been seeing is certainly this weeks topic.
The last thing you need is for this to happen
Busy boat ramps can be chaos at the best of times and if you’re not confident in launching and retrieving, major problems can arise. It would be great if people would offer some help when they see someone struggling but often they just stare and laugh.
While this is un-necessary, I can only urge that anglers learn how to successfully launch and retrieve their boats before heading to a busy boat ramp.
There are many new comers to this sport and while there is no real 'boating education' programs available those new to the sport do need some practice. I can only urge to those that see an unfortunate anglers struggling at a boat ramp to help or even teach them a few hits about boat launching. It doesn’t take much time to do so and is actually a good deed.
For those just new to boat launching, here are a few tips to get you started.
We all started out somewhere on a boat ramp attempting to launch for the first time. For some, this was met with the animosity of others becoming grumpy and instead of offering a hand, often voiced their opinions with words that couldn’t be written.
Each season, new boat owners attempt to launch for the first time, become nervous, struggle and at times cause damage to either their boat or someone else’s and it is with this in mind that this article was generated.
During the peak of snapper fishing in Victoria, everybody wants to get in on the action and early mornings are the key to do so. Yet, new boaties often forget just how overcrowded the ramps become.
When new to this, launching can become frustrating because the trailer goes in the opposite direction when reversing or you forget to put in the bung plugs. Regardless, it is imperative that you take your time launching and retrieving so nothing can go wrong.
In this instance, other than offering a hand, many just complain and yell abuse, the best piece of advice I can offer is to practice launching and retrieving your boat during the winter when the ramps are baron. This will get your confidence up and when the next season approaches, you to can zip down unhook and drive the boat off the trailer like other experienced boat operators.
A little courtesy for others: Before I go into the correct procedures of launching and retrieving effectively, I’d just like to mention the unsettling nerves new boat owners feel when under pressure launching for the first time. I remember my first time and to begin with, did practice during the winter to make it easier in the warmer months.
I know all newbie’s should practice but for the ones that don’t, rather than watching their misfortunes, jump in give them a hand, drive their boat off for them, or even reverse their car and trailer for them. The more you help out, the quicker it will be for everybody, and they might learn a few tips along the way.
Launching: When attempting to launch there are a few important factors you need to adhere to enabling the successful launch of your boat.
• Make sure you remove any tie down straps holding the boat to the trailer (although it is funny to see someone attempting to reverse when the tie downs are still attached). Do not leave them hanging off the boat or trailer.
• Make sure your winch is working correctly and is attached to the boat before reversing down the ramp.
• Make sure all bungs are fitted and screwed in tightly, it is said that every boat operator will at some point forget the bungs and I have to admit, it has happened to me in the past.
• Remove any supports holding the motor in position.
• Attach a rope to the bow and stern of the boat to avoid the boat from drifting away after launching; this also enables easy manovering to the docking area.
• If you’re launching in the dark, turn off your car headlight off.
After this checklist has been completed, proceed to launch your boat. Don’t be in a rush, this will only effect your judgement and things can go wrong.
On the approach to the ramp, slow down keeping an eye on where the end of the ramp is.
• Keep the rear wheels of your car out of the water and only reverse until your trailer wheels are almost covered with water. Not completely, almost covered.
• Set your car in park with the hand break on.
• Make sure you have somebody to hold the attached ropes so they can guide the boat to the docking area if you can’t drive the boat off the trailer.
• If you are going to drive the boat off the trailer, start the engine before pushing the boat off. If it doesn’t start and you have already pushed it off the trailer you’ll be in all sorts of trouble.
• Put the boat in gear and motor forward on the trailer, this makes it easier to loosen the winch and safety strap.
• Slowly reverse the boat off the trailer, constantly knowing where other boats are to avoid damage.
After this point, you can dock your boat and tie it off securely then go and park you car and trailer in a specific car park and head off for your day.
Retrieving your boat can be just as difficult as launching. After you have finished your day out, it’s time to retrieve.
Reversing boat trailers is easier when you don’t have the view of the boat in the rear vision mirror, the only thing you really need to understand is how far to reverse the trailer into the water for successful retrieval.
On retrieval, keep in mind the weather conditions, the slightest of wind or current can make retrieving more difficult putting you off target when guiding the boat onto the trailer.
The actual process of retrieving is the exact opposite of when you launched.
• Get your car and trailer, reversing down the ramp. Have your trailer wheels almost covered by water to ensure the boat goes on the trailer easier.
• Lift the motor up a little so to not have it bottom out on the ramp.
• If you’re driving your boat onto the trailer, take your time, motor forward putting the boat into idle and in gear so you carefully place it on the trailer. Once on the trailer, add some power to drive it up toward the winch.
• Once on the trailer, attach the winch and tighten.
• Clip on the safety strap
• Wait for the boat operator to lift the entire leg of the motor out of the water and drive off.
• Drive the boat and trailer to the wash down area and do the final cleanup, putting on the tie downs (if any) and undoing the bungs letting the water to drain from the hull.
After all this is in place and you have had a successful day on the water avoiding any mishaps, you’ll be far more confident the next time you go boating.
Stop the reversing when the trailers wheels are ¾ covered.