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Whether you’re a new boat owner or have been boating for years, there is boat ramp etiquette that you should follow. These tips will help you get out on the water as quickly, safely, and politely as possible.Boat Ramp Etiquette

1. If you’re planning to launch at a new ramp for the first time, it certainly doesn’t hurt to make a preliminary trip if it’s not too far from home. You can get a feel for the ramp width, how much parking is available, etc.

2. If you’ve never launched a boat before or have little experience, don’t do it for the first time on a weekend or holiday when the ramp will be busy. Practice backing your boat trailer between two cones in an empty parking lot until you’re more confident.

3. Finish all preparation and loading before pulling up to the ramp. This includes unhooking your boat, removing engine and transom tie-down straps, transferring any fishing rods, coolers, and towels from your vehicle to your boat in a staging area before backing up to the ramp. Remember to put your drain plugs back in your boat before you launch.

4. Use two experienced people to launch and retrieve your boat. One to drive the towing vehicle and one to operate the boat.

5. If you are launching on a weekend, holiday, or any other busy time at the ramp, wait your turn in line.

6. When launching at dawn or dusk, shut off your headlights when backing down the ramp so that anyone backing a trailer in an adjacent lane will be able to see.

7. Launch your boat on the farthest side of the ramp if you are launching at a large public ramp. In other words, don’t launch in the middle. That will only back things up for everyone else in line.

8. If you launch before dawn, make sure your navigation lights are on before your boat hits the water. You might be able to see the people and boats around you, but they can’t see you unless your navigation lights are on.

9. Always ask before tying up to someone else’s vessel if there is no available dock space, and keep bumper buoys in your rod locker. This will help ensure that there’s no damage to either boat.

10. If the ramp parking lot isn’t crowded, give other vehicles and trailers plenty of space.

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