We’ve all seen the videos on social media, the ones showing the mishaps of boaters who really don’t know what they’re doing when attempting to launch a boat at the ramp. Yes, they are hilarious, and I can confess to sitting at a certain Lynnhaven Inlet restaurant’s outdoor patio and watching the hapless efforts of those who are failing at every turn of the steering wheel.
But I also can tell you that after watching a guy try to launch his boat so he could take his family fishing, I got up out of my seat, told him to get in the boat and I backed him down. His wife couldn’t stop thanking me.
Here’s the thing, you have to take driver’s education before you can drive a car and now the state is requiring a Coast Guard-approved boating course to drive a boat. But there’s still no effort to make sure you know how to trailer your vessel or, much less, know how to back it down a ramp. It can be crazy dangerous and people get hurt all the time. Cars and trucks end up in the water.
With such a huge investment at stake, it might be a good idea to learn the process.
Start off by finding someone who really knows what they are doing and get them to teach you. Then head to a huge – and I mean big enough to be way far away from anybody – parking lot and practice.
Some folks are good at using their mirrors to back down. I ain’t one of them. Pretty sure I’m the most mirror dyslexic person on the planet. The preferred method for most is to put your right arm around the passenger seat and look out the back window.
Remember, everything is backwards – turn the steering wheel right, the trailer goes left.
The best-case scenario is to have one person in the boat ready to motor off the trailer and another back it down. This makes for a quick operation that won’t tick off the line of trucks and trailers ready to launch. People get in fights over this kind of stuff.
And like with anything else in life, practice will get you where you need to go.
Please, for the sake of everyone else trying to launch their boat, don’t make your first attempt be at the ramp. Because you might just see me and a bunch of others on the outdoor patio in hysterics.
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