Remember the GOLDEN RULE
- Do initial launch preparations away from the ramp so as not to impede launching for others.
- Raise the outdrive or motor, remove the support bracket and install the drain plug.
- Disconnect the trailer wiring.
- Remove tie down straps.
- Check the drain plug
- Make any equipment adjustments necessary.
- Connect the fuel tank, check fluid levels.
- One last time- Check the drain plug. Better safe than on the bottom.
- Drive to the ramp and back the boat and trailer down the ramp, keeping the tow vehicle's wheels out of the water.
- Set the emergency brake, shift into Park, and block the wheels.
- Someone should get aboard the boat, boats with I/O's should turn on the blower, lower the motor, look for water entering the boat, sniff the bilge for gasoline oder and start the motor.
- Make sure you have attached a bow line to the boat, then release the winch and disconnect the winch line.
- You should be able to launch the boat with a slight shove or by backing the boat off the trailer under power.
- Return the towing vehicle to the parking lot as soon as the boat is launched so the next person in line may proceed.
- Move the boat to an area away from the ramp to load additional equipment and passengers.
The steps for retrieving the boat are essentially the reverse of launching and you should keep in mind being courteous of others launching and retrieving.
- Unload the boat away from the ramp if possible.
- Back the trailer into the water, again keeping the tires of the tow vehicle at waters edge, not in the water.
- Maneuver the boat carefully onto the submerged trailer, attach a bow line and shut off the engine prior to raising it.
- Winch the boat onto the trailer and secure it.
- Drive the trailer and boat out of the ramp for cleanup, reloading, securing equipment and safety check.
- Remove the drain plug to allow water to drain from the bilge.
PERSONAL FLOTATION DEVICES (PFDs) **
PFDs are important potential life saving devices. You are required to have one wearable PFD for each passenger on the boat. Make sure when selecting a PFD that it is Coast Guard approved and is designed for the wearers size and weight. They should be stowed where readily accessible. (Readily accessible does not include being in the plastic wrapper in which it came or stowed forward in the v-berth under 5 cases of soda.) Non-swimmers and children should always wear a PFD whenever near the water or on a boat. The US Coast Guard and most states require, by law, that non-swimmers and children 12 or under wear a PFD whenever in a boat of less than 40 feet in length. In addition, vessels 16 feet and greater in length should also carry a type IV throwable PFD. It is recommended that ALL passengers in a boat that is underway wear their PFD.
** State Regulations are fairly uniform, and in many cases closely follow Federal Regulations. However, it's recommended that you check your own state boating regulations for variations.
You should never leave the dock without first checking the local weather forecast. You can get weather information from TV, radio or from one of the weather channels on your VHF radio. At certain times of the year weather can change rapidly and you should continually keep an eye out, especially to the south and west, in order to foresee changes which might be impending.
There are indicators that you can look for that indicate an approaching weather change:
- Weather changes generally come from the south or west so scan the sky.
- A sudden drop in temperature and change in the wind often mean that a storm is near.
- Watch for cloud build up, especially rapid vertically rising clouds.
BEWARE OF THUNDERSTORMS
NEVER boat or fish in a thunderstorm. With thunder comes lightning and lightning WILL kill you. A bolt of lightning can travel a distance of over 20 miles. Take shelter before the storm arrives (NOT under a tree). If you are caught out in a storm, ditch your gear - carbon fiber and metal attract lightning - and lie flat well away from your gear and trees. Don't use a boat if there's a chance of a thunderstorm and if you get caught afloat get to shore as quickly as possible.
ON THE WATER
Never run too fast for conditions. If the water is rough slow down. Remember that your passenger's safety and comfort are your responsibility! Do not create a wake within 100 feet of any shore, dock or anchored boat. You are legally responsble for any property damage, injury or death resulting from a wake created by your boat.
Not every boater is a pleasure boater. Fishermen, either trolling, at anchor or drifting deserve your respect. When operating around boaters who are fishing, take extra care to control your wake. People often stand up in their boat to cast or reel in a fish. Your wake could tip the boat and cause someone to fall overboard. Remember you are responsible for your wake. Do not invade their territory. Fishermen deserve their fare share of the water as well.
Never crowd other fishermen. If you see another angler fishing a bank, anticipate the direction he's moving and do not move to the end of the bank - let him finish fishing it. Never run between a fisherman and the point or bank he's fishing. Give other anglers and boaters a wide berth.
If you are the boater who is fishing, remember never to anchor in narrow channels or shipping lanes and never tie up to aides to navigation.
Do not operate your boat around hunters. Generally hunters don't want to be around other boaters any more than other boaters want to be around those hunting from boats or shorelines. As a rule, if you see someone in a boat or on a shoreline who appears to be hunting just keep clear.
If another boater signals for help or assistance, respond immediately. You, too, may need help someday.