boat launch etiquette

Has anyone else run into this problem. I use a public boat launch in the boonies ( the wilderness) I had come in and pulled my kayak onto the boat launch leaving it there while I went to get my wheels. On the way back, I saw a power boat operator dragging my kayak over the rocks and placing it over to the side of the launch. I was shocked, who would do that, I would never touch someone else’s boat never mind moving it. It wasn’t like he had his trailer backed up or anything, nope he was just coming in himself. I was so glad right then and there that I don’t use a fiberglass kayak. What gets me is that he was not even apologetic when he saw me. If I had used my trailer then I would have had to stop and return my boat to where I had it before in order to line up with my racks. Is it just me or was this totally unacceptable?

Unacceptable AND inconsiderate of you

– Last Updated: May-03-15 12:40 AM EST –

You can try to apply rights-of-usage laws similar to those which, technically, give bicycles the right to use a full traffic lane in spite of cars being on the road, but real life is different. I've never seen a boat ramp, even the little dinky ones, where there wasn't room to park a kayak or canoe off to one side so that the ramp is unobstructed.

When you leave your boat parked in the middle of the ramp, you are that bicycle rider who rides down the middle of a traffic lane (and yes, that would be legal, but dumb). The other guy had no right to move your boat, but expecting him to understand that you had the right to be there is expecting too much. It's easier to just do what you can to make it possible for both types of boats to launch/land at the same time than to fight for your rights. Life at the boat ramps is easy when you take that approach.

Oh, and you said "If I had used my trailer then I would have had to stop and return my boat to where I had it before in order to line up with my racks." I hope you are talking about dealing with a motorboat when you made that statement. Otherwise, you would still be doing things in a rude manner. There's no need to line up a trailer with racks for kayaks. If you can carry the boat to your car, you can carry it to your trailer, thus not making someone else wait for you.

There have been times I've parked a paddle craft on a boat ramp, but only if I were right there to move it if need be. If I had to walk so far to my car that there was some chance that a motorboater could arrive (landing or launching) while I was away, I'd never do that.

Etiquette demands…
that you don’t block the boat ramp. Unless the ramp was absolutely the ONLY place you could pull your boat up to the bank in order to go get your vehicle, YOU were in the wrong. And it sounds like that wasn’t the case, since you say he pulled it over to the side. The guy was probably ready to back his boat in, and there’s a kayak blocking the ramp with no vehicle or person near it. I would have done exactly as he did.

I’ve usually seen that power boaters hate canoes & kayaks. I’ve had rocks thrown at me, been cussed at, and chased away from launch sites. Because the waters belong to them!! (so they say)

Not me
I’ve been paddling and rowing for 40 years, and have yet to have a powerboater treat me with disrespect. I’ve seen a handful that appeared rather clueless or inattentive while on the water, but none that were deliberately rude. In fact, boat ramps are the main place where you get to talk to them, and without exception, all have been polite in that case.

Guide: You’re Spot On This One
The small boat ramp, on the Hanalei side of the Waialua River, on Kauai is famous for this by both motor boaters and kayakers. It is unbelievable how thoughtless and inconsiderate people can be by obstructing the only boat ramp with their boat, gear and equipment.

I would never in a million years …
block a boat ramp, and maybe that is why the power boaters and us get along so well.

Keep in mind they are paying a annual registration fee that pays for all the boat ramps and we as kayakers are not.

Also our boats can easily be moved by ourselves while theirs cannot.

We launch at busy boat ramps all the time, and our criteria is to wait until there is no power boaters launching or taking out.

We all get along very nicely and almost always pass friendly comments back and forth.

jack L

Kayaks to the side
and pack and unpack promptly. Thats the rule in Maine.

Never had a conflict with a power boater.

Kayaks by the way do not have the right of way over all other vessels. Only rec powerboaters. But that is another issue.


– Last Updated: May-03-15 10:05 AM EST –

I don't use boat ramps for put ins/take outs, unless there is no viable option, and 99 times out of 100 there is.

I would never leave my boat sitting in the middle of a loading ramp, blocking access to others. Why create an unnecessary problem? I don't want to start or end my paddling day arguing with some jerk who thinks he owns the world. I'm not a big fan of any power boats.

If my boat is off the boat ramp; nobody should be messing with my boat, my gear, or moving my boat or gear. If you do; you may have problems loading your boat when you get back from boating. Your vehicle may be altered.


Agree with above
There is very rarely any reason for a really nice fiberglass boat to be walked away from in the middle of a shared ramp so it would block motor craft. Let alone a plastic one. In Maine, the nice fiberglass kayaks that I and companions paddle with are pulled over onto the rocks to the side of public launch ramps.

I have never checked out what is legal nor does common sense require it. Multiple people are using the ramp, the kayaks can usually sit along the side where they aren’t blocking the ramp and motor boats have no choice but to use the main ramp. So kayaks go to the side.

If there really is no side, then the paddler - has to get their boat off the ramp immediately upon coming in by whatever means they can. Kayakers can stay out of the way so we should.

subhumans thugs goons and fishermen go first

consider ! who pays $15000 up to catch a fish ?

I agree that no one should block a ramp with their boat, but I also do not believe it is proper to drag, or even touch a stranger’s boat without permission. In this case, the power boater should have waited a few minutes and then if no one showed up, the kayak should have been carefully lifted and set aside.

I have to admit that I did move a kayak last summer, but it was not at a boat launch. It was sitting unattended on the beach with the tide coming in and I had another person assist me to lift the boat and carry it higher up to prevent the tide from taking it. I then waited for quite awhile for the owner to return. I informed him of what I had done and he was appropriately grateful; he hadn’t realized that the tide was coming in when he left his boat.

Frankly, in this day and time, I can’t imagine what some people are thinking when they leave their kayak, canoe, or whatever unattended for even two minutes. None of my boats are ever out of my eyesight–even when I’m out on some uninhabited island.

so if i leave my truck parked on the ramp while im cranking a boat onto the trailer, thats considered inconsiderate?

If my boat or truck or canoe or kayak is on the boat ramp, everyone has to wait in line.

I agree with The Bob
I avoid boat ramps altogether. It just makes life more pleasant. Most power boaters are OK, but there is a sub group that have usually been drinking all day or the Type A personality NASCAR speed merchants that don’t try to be rude but nevertheless are inherently dangerous to paddle craft. I fully realize that some readers here will flame me over this but those folks exist, they do and all it takes is one. BTW, I adopted this policy after several near misses, so it’s based on empirical evidence.

What are you talking about?
Assuming the trailer is attached to the truck while loading, where are they supposed to leave their truck?

If you’re not capable of lifting your boat ask someone for help. Most people I meet at boat ramps are friendly.

You missed the point

– Last Updated: May-03-15 12:48 PM EST –

If you need to use the ramp because you have a boat that must be winched onto a trailer, no one will mind at all (as long as you wait your turn). That's what the ramp is there for. But we as paddlers don't need to use the ramp in that way. For us, the ramp is only needed as a path to and from the water with our boat and gear, and often not even that. Using the ramp in a way that makes those who need it wait for us when doing so is completely unnecessary is the part that's rude.

Altering a truck
I might shoot you.

I would never block the ramp. If someone messed with my gear I would be in their face. If someone was messing with someone’s else’s truck I would photograph and call 911. If someone was messing with my truck I would shoot you dead.

Cranking the boat onto the
Trailer is one thing.

Then move the trailer and truck to a tie down area

There are a lot of other ignorant folks so boat launches here sometimes come with inspectors signage and rangers

Yes, motorboaters can be rude too
This is true. When I said I’ve not seen motorboaters that were rude to me, that’s exactly what I meant. They can still be rude to each other by being thoughtless. A motorboater who messes with tie-downs and fishing equipment while parked on the ramp will earn the same ire from other motorboaters as a paddler who plops his boat in the middle of the ramp and then makes a trip back to his car. All that preparatory stuff should be done away from the ramp, not on it.

Didn’t see…
where anybody said that. If you are in the process of loading or unloading, no matter what your boat is, you have the ramp. Etiquette demands that you do it as quickly as possible. Powerboating anglers have long threads on their boards about idiots who monopolize the ramp for long periods of time while doing the things they should have done before they backed the boat down; things like loading all their gear in the boat, putting the motor on the boat, etc. Not to mention the nimrods that only use the boat once a year and haven’t a clue how to back it down the ramp and get it on and off the trailer. Watch the ramp when a local bass tournament is going on and the anglers are putting in and taking out their boats. It’s very seldom that a given vehicle is on the ramp for more than a minute. They have loaded everything in the boat before they back down, removed all the tie downs, and usually have one guy in the boat. They back it down efficiently, tap the brakes when the boat is fully in the water, and it slides off the trailer. Guy in the boat starts the motor and idles it away from the ramp while the driver pulls the trailer out and goes to park. Even when I’m loading and unloading my boat by myself, I’m never on the ramp for more than a couple minutes. I tie a rope to the trailer winch tower and the other end to the front of the boat, long enough that the boat can clear the trailer before the rope comes taut. Back it down, tap the brakes, the boat slides off, I carefully pull the trailer out of the water, get out of the car and grab the rope, pull the boat into the bank next to but not on the ramp, and go park the car.

Point is, even when loading and unloading, have it planned, do it efficiently, and get off the ramp. It actually can take longer for somebody to load or unload a kayak or canoe if they are afraid of unstrapping the boat before backing down the ramp, and of course you can’t put your gear into the paddlecraft before backing it down, or wait until after you’ve cleared the ramp before putting the gear back into your vehicle. So I’m especially considerate when using the ramp with my canoe. If there is anybody else waiting to back a boat in, I don’t even use the ramp, just park the vehicle at the top of the ramp but out of the way and carry the stuff to and from the water. If there is nobody else around, I’ll use the ramp but try to do everything as quickly as possible and clear the ramp in case somebody else shows up.