A variety of conditions may cause a boat ramp to become slippery. Whilst this is normally not so much a problem when launching a boat, it can cause dramas to the unprepared when retrieving a boat. The last thing most boaties want after a day out on the water is an embarrassing and frustrating episode in front of all the ‘experts’ and onlookers back at the boat ramp.
Here are some hints, which may help avoid or overcome the situation.
Never race your car and boat down a ramp and then hit the brakes to launch your boat. Plenty of cars have gone in because the ramp was slippery or the boat was still secured.
Always have a line from the bow of your boat so that if it goes into deep water off the trailer you won’t have to swim out to it.
Never launch your boat from the trailer and then attempt to start it when adrift. Murphy’s Law states that your engine will not start.
Always walk down a boat ramp you’ve never tried before. It may drop off or be slippery.
Try not to get your trailer axle into water in an effort to preserve bearings.
When retrieving, if the ramp has a drop off at low tide, you should time it so that the tide has risen before you attempt to retrieve.
If the ramp is slippery and you only have a 2 wheel drive car: where the water is deep enough it may be possible to use forward gear from the boat engine to help push the car out. NB. Make sure the trailer safety chain is secured to bow of boat before attempting as otherwise boat may end up on the car roof. NB.Ensure water is deep enough and take care of propeller.
If there is mud or slime on the ramp, slow spinning of the car tyres may dry it out and enable the car to claw its way up .
If you are retrieving with waves, wash, or current affecting the boat ramp, getting someone to hold the boat in line will greatly assist. If water is too deep for them to stand in, run a line from the stern bollard to a person on the shore so that they can keep boat in line.
There are a variety of trailer products on the market to assist in launching & retrieving. See your local marine dealer.
BOAT RAMP ETIQUETTE
Usually at a good boat ramp, with a shore-line where boats can be rested, and in good weather, a car queuing system of launch/retrieval occurs.
At a boat ramp where there are rocks on the beach and no place to rest boat, or in bad weather conditions (waves on ramp), a boat queuing system occurs.