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When on the boat ramp, it’s important to follow proper etiquette

Like paying taxes on your hard-earned wages, waiting in line is one of those unpleasant facts of life. No matter one’s destination or chosen activity, we all must account for anticipated line time in the planning process. This is true for everything from daily errands to weekend getaways at a busy lake.

If you take advantage of a good weekend weather forecast to go boating, you can bet that many other like-minded boaters will be doing the same thing. While there is plenty of water to go around at most recreational waterways, there is only so much space on the launch ramps. Which means there is probably going to be a line when you are launching your boat and again when you are taking your boat out.

For the most part, boaters take line standing in stride, but frustration can quickly set in when someone gums up the works and line movement slows to a crawl. Such gumming of the works usually is associated with a breach of launch ramp etiquette, which begins with not considering one’s impact on the other boaters and not taking steps to minimize that impact. Since there is no one directing traffic at the ramp, those steps alone can go a long way toward keeping the line moving.

If you spend enough time observing the activity at a busy launch ramp, it won’t take long to identify those who are experienced and those who are not. Experienced boaters waste little movement and are in and out quickly. Inexperienced boaters, on the other hand, can have a tough time backing up their trailer, and each attempt adds minutes to their launching time.

If you are new to boating, spend some time practicing backing with your boat on the trailer and learning how to use your mirrors. Just do it somewhere other than a launch ramp. A school parking lot on the weekend or a summer day is an option. There you will find both space and pre-painted lines to work with.

This also is a good opportunity to train those who will be with you at the launch ramp. It never hurts to have someone who can guide you into a tight spot, and that means being able to communicate with one another. An understood set of hand signals can save some real trouble.

Imagine how smooth you will look and how confident you will feel if you can pull up and back the trailer into the water in almost one continuous movement. Your skill will not go unnoticed and will be appreciated by your fellow boaters, especially when you pull the trailer out of their way.

Having another person who knows how to back up the trailer or load the boat can help at the end of the day. Be sure to tie up the boat at the courtesy dock or have your second pull the boat out of the way until the trailer is in the water. That way other boaters have room to trailer their boats if they get ready first.

Once the boat is secured at the bow, pull off the ramp and out of the way before removing coolers, water toys, fishing equipment and other gear.

Another simple thing for keeping the line moving is using the ready lane or staging area for its intended purpose. This is a designated area where boaters can load their coolers, water toys, fishing gear and other supplies for the day before pulling onto the ramp. Though this seems a simple step, it takes a lot more time than some people realize and can be a real line stopper.

Bass Pro Shops U.S. Open

The regional qualifier for the Bass Pro Shops US Open National Bass Fishing Amateur Team Championships will take place at Callville Bay Marina on Saturday. Roland Martin will serve as the celebrity weighmaster when the weigh-in gets underway at 2:30 p.m. Other family activities get underway at noon.

Freelance writer Doug Nielsen is a conservation educator for the Nevada Department of Wildlife. His “In the Outdoors” column is not affiliated with or endorsed by the NDOW. Any opinions he states in his column are his own. Find him on Facebook at @dougwritesoutdoors. He can be reached at intheoutdoorslv@gmail.com

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