Marine & RVs

The Do’s and Dont’s of Good Boat Launch Etiquette

Every boater should know the do’s and don’t of good boat launch etiquette. After all, a boat launch can make for a busy place, especially during the summer months. The good news is that having good boat launch etiquette can make navigating a busy launch site an easy feat. 

A man works on launching his boat.
Antonio Lara, works on launching his boat before going out fishing with his family. | Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images

Don’t: Take over the courtesy dock

According to Better Boat, plenty of public launches offer a courtesy dock for loading and unloading passengers. While that’s certainly convenient, Better Boat says that you shouldn’t use the courtesy dock for transferring your baggage, packing up your fishing gear, or filling up your beverage coolers. Instead, Better Boat suggests loading your boat before arriving at the boat launch. In terms of boat launch etiquette, you want to be as expedient as possible. And packing your boat while it’s hanging at the courtesy dock? That’s not expedient at all

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Don’t: Turn the boat launch into social hour

This one is tempting. But according to good boat launch etiquette? The boat launch is no place for socializing. While it’s certainly ok to wave a quick hello, Anchoring.com recommends against socializing at the ramp. 

“People in line will not appreciate watching you stand around and socialize while they’re waiting for their turn to approach the ramp,” reports Anchoring.com. Instead, focus on getting your boat in or out of the water. Once you’ve done so, you can feel free to socialize with friends.

A pontoon boat on Boone Lake.
A pontoon boat on the lake. | Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

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Don’t: Power load your boat back onto the trailer

When it comes to taking your boat out of the water, Anchoring.com suggests avoiding slamming the throttle down to get your boat against the edge of your trailer. According to Anchoring.com, the propeller wash from power loading a boat onto a trailer can erode sediment beyond the boat ramp. While this might not seem like such a big deal, Anchoring.com says that it could result in a hole, which inevitably could result in damage to other trailers. It could also cause trailer tires to get stuck.

“To prevent this, just approach your trailer at a normal loading speed and use the winch cable to pull your boat the rest of the way onto the trailer,” Anchoring.com suggests instead.

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Do: Familiarize yourself with the boat launch beforehand

Before heading to a new boat launch, try familiarizing yourself with it first. To do so, Bass Pro Shops suggests pulling into an open parking space and spending some time watching how the boat launch functions. Determine the best spot to prepare your boat for launch, and get an understanding of how traffic is handled. Read any and all signs posted at the boat launch too. This is not only good boat launch etiquette, but it will also help you feel more comfortable launching your boat for the first time.

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Do: Save time by prepping your boat for launch ahead of time

This one goes hand in hand with not taking over the courtesy dock, which is a big no-no when it comes to good boat launch etiquette. To avoid being that person, Discover Boating suggests prepping your boat for launch out of the way of the ramp where boats are launching. Not only will doing so help expedite the launch process, but other boaters will also be sure to appreciate your preparedness. 

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Do: Consider the benefits of bringing a friend

Chances are if you’re spending the day on the open water, you invited a friend along. But if you didn’t? You might want to consider the benefits of bringing a friend or family member along next time. According to Better Boating, have one person behind the vehicle’s steering wheel, and the other behind the boat’s captain’s seat can be immensely helpful when launching a boat. 

Better Boating added, “After one of you has launched the vessel, the other can park your vehicle and trailer in the marina’s designated parking area, then use the courtesy dock to catch their ride.”

A young couple working together to launch their boat.
Laura Lara holds the family’s boat against the dock as her husband Antonio Lara gets the bimini setup onboard. | Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images

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Good boat launch etiquette is the key to a relaxing day on the water

Before launching your boat for the first time this season, we recommend brushing up on your boat launch etiquette. After all, knowing the do’s and don’t’s of good boat launch etiquette is the best way to ensure a relaxing day on the water.