mjagmin

Proper Boat Launch Protocol

58 posts in this topic

Any thoughts on proper boat launch protocol?  Step by step, what have you found has worked well in developing a good routine?  What nightmares have you experienced or witnessed? Any advice is appreciated.

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Teach the wife to drive the boat.........

I always start the boat in the drive before every trip. Then load all the coolers an stuff, put plug it (I aways tape it to the helm). While waiting in line, uncover boat load all the passengers. Launch boat wife stays offshore a few hundred feet, I park the rig. She pulls up and picks me up off we go.

Teach the wife to drive the boat.........

Never yell, be prepared for others to be a lot less courteous.

 

.

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Just now, Toddler said:

 

Check on teaching the wife to drive the boat.... that way, it becomes "our boat" and not...."my toy..."  Thanks!:lol:

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Doesn't matter if she drives the boat or the truck/trailer, as long as she can do one or the other.  My wife parks the rig and also retrieves for loading.  Her choice.

Doing most of your prep while in line, not when actually on the ramp, is the most courteous thing you can do.  Removing covers and stern straps, loading gear and passengers, hanging fenders, installing drain plug, etc.  Make a list, develop a routine, stay calm and don't rush.

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3 hours ago, mjagmin said:

Check on teaching the wife to drive the boat.... that way, it becomes "our boat" and not...."my toy..."  Thanks!:lol:

Even better, have HER select the boat!

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2 hours ago, Futzin' said:

Make a list, develop a routine,

+1

Joe

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So there were about 5 years that we trailered everywhere before settling down.  Basically, my wife refused to learn to drive the boat, she just wouldn't do it.  So a launch was me doing everything including driving the truck and trailer back to the parking lot and hustling back to the boat while she held it and rarely was there a second courtesy dock to move the boat to.  It was a huge pain and actually stressful each time.  So then we decided that she can learn to drive the truck back to the spot while I back the boat out and pick her up at the dock....no go.  First time, she hit a trailer with our trailer but of course she didn't want to tell me. We get home from a vacation and there's a message from the sheriff on our machine and i learn what she did.  Someone saw it and reported it.  Sheriff gave me the name of the owner and I just dealt with him and paid for the damage which was a cracked lens.  Fast forward to today and she still refuses to drive the boat but she is able to pull the trailer from the access the two miles to our house when I launch the boat for the year as there is no parking or sharp 90 degree turns to have to pull into.   

Basically I operated on a set routine and it worked well....having little kids as we did at the time that were excitable was maybe the one thing that was a bit challenging.   

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Scan the ramp and dock.  anytime you see a boat with 4 or more guys between 20-30 years of age after a day on the water - just let them go first.  Its a generalization i know but between the testosterone and beer you get a non family atmosphere.  I witnessed an impatient boat attempt to power on next to another boat.  he was slightly off his bunks and powered more stabbing his bow into the starboard midship of a newer Yamie jetboat-  not good result.  waiting is never a bad thing for you- more time on your boat.

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Just now, Chaparral Rider said:

So there were about 5 years that we trailered everywhere before settling down.  Basically, my wife refused to learn to drive the boat, she just wouldn't do it.  So a launch was me doing everything including driving the truck and trailer back to the parking lot and hustling back to the boat while she held it and rarely was there a second courtesy dock to move the boat to.  It was a huge pain and actually stressful each time.  So then we decided that she can learn to drive the truck back to the spot while I back the boat out and pick her up at the dock....no go.  First time, she hit a trailer with our trailer but of course she didn't want to tell me. We get home from a vacation and there's a message from the sheriff on our machine and i learn what she did.  Someone saw it and reported it.  Sheriff gave me the name of the owner and I just dealt with him and paid for the damage which was a cracked lens.  Fast forward to today and she still refuses to drive the boat but she is able to pull the trailer from the access the two miles to our house when I launch the boat for the year as there is no parking or sharp 90 degree turns to have to pull into.   

Basically I operated on a set routine and it worked well....having little kids as we did at the time that were excitable was maybe the one thing that was a bit challenging.   

What is your "set routine?" 

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Ha ha...well it's been a few years now but, It would start from home base.  Making sure the tires are at the correct pressures, the spare tire is set to go, I have a lug wrench that fits the trailer lugs which are different than the truck lugs, I have the number to road side assistance that comes standard with the boat insurance policy.  I already made sure that the boat will start and that the battery is up to par.  When I got to the ramp, I deploy the bumpers and hope that I had them set at the correct height in relation to the dock as every one is different and almost none had any bumper protection. I would remove the rear transom straps, hook a rope to the front cleat and rear cleat on the side of the courtesy dock to throw to my wife while she held the boat, put the plug in because it is became crime to drive with the plug in while on the trailer, I leave the emergency chain on the bow eye as most ramps have a decent decline to them and I had a roller trailer, accept compliments from lesser boat owners as to how nice the chap was compared to their substandard brand, open the hatch of my body on frame suv and peer out the back as I back it up and line up with the cement ramp making sure that i slightly angle it away from the dock so it doesn't ram into it as i push it off the rollers.  I would have the two ropes in my hand as I push it off the rollers then once floating I'd throw them to my wife for her to fight the wind and hold the boat in place while I quickly drive the empty trailer to a parking spot.  Run back, jump in, back out, yell something derogatory about Glastron and show them the power of what 4.3 liters could do as I fly down the lake at a whopping 48 mph.  

 

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So here is a question I have as well that will probably help the OP.  

My wife always drives the truck and I drive the boat when launching/loading since that's what she is comfortable with.  This past weekend when launching the boat she went to release the winch and there was a lot of pressure on it so it spun very fast and almost hurt her.  Its never happened before and I couldn't figure out the circumstances that caused it.  

The only options I can tell would be we were either a) in the water further than usual when the winch was released or b ) not in the water as far as usual or c) it's always like that but she has a better grip on the handle and let's it out slowly even with some pressure.

Any ideas on what the most likely scenario would be?

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Just now, Chaparral Rider said:

Ha ha...well it's been a few years now but, It would start from home base.  Making sure the tires are at the correct pressures, the spare tire is set to go, I have a lug wrench that fits the trailer lugs which are different than the truck lugs, I have the number to road side assistance that comes standard with the boat insurance policy.  I already made sure that the boat will start and that the battery is up to par.  When I got to the ramp, I deploy the bumpers and hope that I had them set at the correct height in relation to the dock as every one is different and almost none had any bumper protection. I would remove the rear transom straps, hook a rope to the front cleat and rear cleat on the side of the courtesy dock to throw to my wife while she held the boat, put the plug in because it is became crime to drive with the plug in while on the trailer, I leave the emergency chain on the bow eye as most ramps have a decent decline to them and I had a roller trailer, accept compliments from lesser boat owners as to how nice the chap was compared to their substandard brand, open the hatch of my body on frame suv and peer out the back as I back it up and line up with the cement ramp making sure that i slightly angle it away from the dock so it doesn't ram into it as i push it off the rollers.  I would have the two ropes in my hand as I push it off the rollers then once floating I'd throw them to my wife for her to fight the wind and hold the boat in place while I quickly drive the empty trailer to a parking spot.  Run back, jump in, back out, yell something derogatory about Glastron and show them the power of what 4.3 liters could do as I fly down the lake at a whopping 48 mph.  

 

"Run back, jump in, back out, yell something derogatory about Glastron and show them the power of what 4.3 liters could do as I fly down the lake at a whopping 48 mph."

- Priceless :lol:

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1 hour ago, brclark82 said:

So here is a question I have as well that will probably help the OP.  

My wife always drives the truck and I drive the boat when launching/loading since that's what she is comfortable with.  This past weekend when launching the boat she went to release the winch and there was a lot of pressure on it so it spun very fast and almost hurt her.  Its never happened before and I couldn't figure out the circumstances that caused it.  

The only options I can tell would be we were either a) in the water further than usual when the winch was released or b ) not in the water as far as usual or c) it's always like that but she has a better grip on the handle and let's it out slowly even with some pressure.

Any ideas on what the most likely scenario would be?

Do you have a roller trailer?  If so she will need to be careful as the boat will move when the winch is unlatched.  My guess is you weren't in the water far enough because most likely the boat would have just floated off, not quickly rolled off.  Hanging on tight is necessary to keep the handle from whipping but you should be able to minimize that with placement of the trailer in the water.

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No I have a bunk trailer.  It's so weird that now that it's happened I can't figure out what we did differently.  

It seems like we probably didn't have it in the water far enough but at the same time I swear I remember previously undoing the winch further up the ramp than we did that day.  Maybe we didn't undo the safety leash previously and it caught there and then we undid that after it was fully floating but I can't for the life of me remember what was different last time.  

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4 hours ago, mjagmin said:

What is your "set routine?"

We pull to the launch prep area. I walk from the drivers door and stop at the hitch, disconnect the lights, unhook the winch from the bow eye and leave the safety chain. Continue down the drivers side of the truck/trailer to rear of boat, open engine hatch and "Sniff", continue to rear of boat and remove the transom strap, check bilge drain plug, inspect drive, remove passenger side transom strap, walk up passenger side of boat, step up on trailer fender and turn on blowers. Continue on to tow vehicle and load the supplies/BS into boat. This whole process is a practiced smooth walk around the vehicle/boat in a counter clockwise rotation that takes me from one important pre-launch check item to the next. ie, on mine it unplugs trailer, checks hull for damage, removes transom tie downs, verifies bilge plug, checks for fuel smell and ensures adequate blower run time.

Then I get in line (if there is one that day) and back down the ramp until the trailer wheels hit the water. I stop and my wife walks over and unhooks the safety chain from the bow eye and takes the bow line and walks over to the dock beside the launch ramp. When she is ready I just back into the water, stop to slide the boat off the bunks and pull back out and park the truck/trailer. Kind of a one move "Dipping" action.

I walk over to the dock, help my wife into the boat, climb in and go. I keep the drive trimmed all the way up until I get into the boat and ready to start it before I lower the drive.

Just what works for us. Thing is do it the same way every time no matter what routine you choose. Less chance of missing something if you have a practiced pattern. With ours, if I get around to the truck passenger door then I know I have hit everything.

Joe

 

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I never unhook the winch, untill the boat in the water and started, then unhook.

 

.

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Just now, Toddler said:

I never unhook the winch, untill the boat in the water and started, then unhook.

 

.

Normally start ours before we leave the house if it has been awhile since we have run it. However we are only dealing with an 18ft and it is easy to pull around and get reloaded. We never power onto the trailer, we always winch the boat on. On a larger boat I can see not unhooking until you are sure it will start today.

Like I said, this is just what works for us. Also we don't have a hundred boats at our launches so if you take a minute it is not that big a deal.

Joe

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7 minutes ago, Toddler said:

I never unhook the winch, untill the boat in the water and started, then unhook.

 

.

Me neither.  Or before pushing off from dock, or before weighing anchor.  If for any number of reasons the boat doesn't start, you won't be scrambling.  Especially on a windy day . . .

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My wife's not yet comfortable driving the boat on and off the trailer, and she can't back up a trailer, so ours is a bit complicated, but pretty smooth:

Launching:

  • Prep the boat in the rigging lane -- transom straps removed, power on, blower on, lines into cleats and coiled on the boat.  Safety chain removed from the bow eye, but winch tight
  • Wife and daughter ride in the boat from the rigging lane to the launch spot
  • I back the trailer down into the water until the boat starts to float off
  • Wife jumps off to the dock with 1 or 2 lines (depending on weather/waves)
  • I unhook the bow winch, hop in the boat, and start it
  • I back away and head toward the courtesy dock while my wife drives the truck and trailer to a parking spot
  • We pick her up at the courtesy dock and head out

Recovering:

  • I pull the boat to the courtesy dock and tie off--my wife and daughter stay aboard while I get the truck and trailer
  • I back down until the forward tips of the bunks are just underwater
  • Wife and I trade--she goes to the front of the trailer while I untie the boat and head to the trailer (our daughter either stays on that boat, or goes to the truck and starts taking pretty cool pictures, for a 6-year-old, of me piloting the boat in)
  • I bring the boat up on the trailer, my wife spots, connects the winch, and tightens the winch up
  • I drive the boat and trailer up to the rigging lanes and we do the transom straps, pull the bilge plug, secure loose items, etc
  • Head home

 

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11 hours ago, Toddler said:

Teach the wife to drive the boat.........

I always start the boat in the drive before every trip. Then load all the coolers an stuff, put plug it (I aways tape it to the helm). While waiting in line, uncover boat load all the passengers. Launch boat wife stays offshore a few hundred feet, I park the rig. She pulls up and picks me up off we go.

Teach the wife to drive the boat.........

Never yell, be prepared for others to be a lot less courteous.

 

.

I would clip the plug the the steering wheel when I use to trailer.

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This year we have a slip, but what we do isn't  to complicated  we back down the ramp, dunk the trailer so fender on trailer just covered with water  I get in the boat lower trim start motor and while its warming up hang fenders ,put lines on rear and midship cleats toss lines to admiral on dock then lean over and unhook bowstrap  back boat off trailer then put in neutral ,get off boat via swim deck  grab rear line from admiral while she has midship line and walk the boat to end of dock, tie up , get in truck and park walk back ,untie and have a great day

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Absolutely no offense intended, but at the crowded ramps around here I used to get very frustrated with folks who tied up the courtesy dock holding a boat for the only one in the party that can drive.  Lots of occasions I couldn't get to the dock to pick up my passengers.  I understand it's part of it, but I would encourage everyone to have their partner (and anyone else who comes along frequently) to learn to drive/approach a dock (or park a truck/trailer).  You never know when that might be needed.

Now that our boat is slipped, I certainly don't miss the long lines and frustration of boat ramps!  Lots of key boating times are lost dealing with launching/retrieving/parking.  Mornings and late afternoon/evenings on the water are the best.  We can enjoy holiday weekends on the water again, too. :)  Gotta say it feels great to stroll right by those long lines waiting to launch; it helps ease the pain of writing the check each year for the slip.

But we loved the options that trailering gave us.  Different lakes, having the boat at the house; plus I just like towing trailers (weird, huh?).

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Why does the plug need to be left out ?  Dripping wet swimmers do not fill up the bilge ?  2 minutes or the drive home should allow putting The plug in ?   Why not ?

None of the boats ever need the plug out.  The pumps & a high bow ride are good enough after the worst rain.

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1 hour ago, Futzin' said:

Absolutely no offense intended, but at the crowded ramps around here I used to get very frustrated with folks who tied up the courtesy dock holding a boat for the only one in the party that can drive.  Lots of occasions I couldn't get to the dock to pick up my passengers.  I understand it's part of it, but I would encourage everyone to have their partner (and anyone else who comes along frequently) to learn to drive/approach a dock (or park a truck/trailer).  You never know when that might be needed.

I agree, but you can only work with what you have :) . We're fortunate to have decent courtesy dock space, and I tend to load/unload in less than peak times.  If you're boating solo, you have to do it that way anyway.

Our two biggest problems at the ramps aren't people who are 'single-threaded', like I am, but rather those that leave their boats in the ramp lanes while they go get the truck, and the people that think the courtesy docks are a spot to fish off of, on a busy boating day.

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