When it comes to trailering your Boston Whaler, there’s no better policy than the Golden Rule, particularly at the boat launch. Everyone is there with a common goal—to enjoy a great day on the water—so it’s only natural that launch-ramp etiquette boils down to employing common sense and courtesy toward your fellow boaters.
Etiquette actually begins the moment you pull out onto the road with your boat in tow. Remember, a vehicle trailering a boat is going to accelerate and brake much more slowly than it does without the trailer on the hitch ball. Let the traffic clear enough so that when you do pull out, those sharing the road around you don’t have to put on the brakes. Before making any lane changes, look over your shoulder to check your blind spot. It’s also a courtesy, not to mention lawful, to use turn signals earlier than you normally would to make those behind you aware of your intentions.
“Most of all, don’t be in a hurry,” says Robert Krouse, trailering engineer with General Motors North America. “Let other drivers pass if they want, and don’t try to pass others unless it’s really necessary.” Robert also encourages cautious driving on hilly terrain. “Downshifting will help you maintain speed on downhills,” he says. “Crest hills no faster than you want to be going once you head down the other side. Grade braking features on GMC’s Acadia, Yukon, Terrain, Sierra LD and Sierra HD models make this task simpler.”
Good boaters have a game plan before they turn into the boat ramp or launch area. The routine can be pretty simple: Stay out of other boaters’ way as they head to launch their boats, and have your own boat ready. Handle any last-minute prep—such as removing tie-downs, putting in the drain plug and loading gear into your boat—before approaching the launch ramp proper and in a location where you aren’t blocking traffic.
If you watch seasoned boaters, you can see they make it their goal to get the boat in the water as quickly and efficiently as possible. Part of that trick when launching is to have the boat’s operator at the helm and ready to start the engine as soon as the prop is underwater. The tow vehicle driver should pause at that point until the boat operator gives a thumbs-up, signaling the engine is operating. Then back the boat down into the water until the tops of the trailer fenders are just above the surface, which usually means the boat can slide free and clear of the trailer.
As the boat operator moves to the dock on the side away from the boat ramp—or remains far enough out from the ramp to allow other boats to launch—the tow vehicle driver should find a suitable parking space and pull far enough into it so as not to block the alleyway on each side of the vehicle/trailer.
The same etiquette applies when the day is done and it’s time to put the boat back on the trailer. Cruise to the dock, drop off the tow vehicle driver, and then back away from the dock (if the launch area is busy) until you see your boat trailer backing into the water. Ease the boat onto the trailer, hook the bow strap and crank the winch tight. Have the driver pull the vehicle up the boat ramp to an area that doesn’t block traffic. Wait to take out coolers, fishing rods, wakeboards, the Porta-Potty or the kids until your vehicle and boat/trailer are well clear of the ramp.
By following these tips and showing such respect at the boat ramp, the feelings of goodwill toward your fellow boaters are sure to be mutual.