Boat launch etiquette?

Took my son out for a short canoe ride. On our way back to the boat launch we discovered 3 boats waiting. One using the launch and 2 others back a bit waiting their turn. I looked for another spot on shore to pull up but banks were steep. My son who has autism was done and needed to get off the water. We pulled up alongside the guy on the lauch and as quick as we could got out of his way. Is this acceptable or should we have waited for all 3 boats first?

I assume these were motor boats? In a normal circumstance I would try to wait for at least the one on the launch to finish launching or taking out. They were there first and motor boaters don’t love dodging around people moving paddle boats or gear. There is also a safety issue, for you, since the boat may be lightly secured when it is actually on the ramp and stuff can slip.

It is possible that even if they said nothing to you at the time, you were reported as the rude paddler.

All that said, you do have a special circumstance , so maybe should have told the boat that was on the launch that your son was in distress and your need to get off the water was urgent.

In general, that is a pretty busy boat launch to have one on and two queued up. You may want to not use this launch at peak times. There are some around here that I avoid when I know there are going to be lots of boats taking out, like people fishing, at the end of the day. These days I am a solo paddler, and as a single I usually cannot get out of their way in a prompt fashion.

If you didn’t impact the flow of the trailer boats going in/out, then there shouldn’t have been any problem.

But you could have also just mentioned to the next guy in line how you are sneaking in due to the special circumstances, and they likely would have said it was no problem to go ahead.

It’s hard to give you solid feedback without seeing/knowing the subtleties of your situation since a canoe can often sneak out very quickly without impacting the same space used by powerboats, but strictly speaking canoes have no inherent priority over powerboats at launch sites so if you didn’t say anything to the other boaters you may have cut in front of others that also had special needs.

It sounds like you did right by everyone. At the boat ramps here, I intentionally take out at a spot already in use by a power boat (meaning I never take up a space, I’m never part of any line, no one ever has to wait for me.), with a couple of rules for myself. Make sure I don’t get in their way - I will not slow anyone’s process. And I remember to be quick, I need to get off of the ramp as quickly as possible. It’s not a rest stop. Not a place to take a breath and stretch. That should be the rules that the power boats go by as well. Everyone typically seems appreciative of my not taking up a launch or land space for a trailered boat. And I can’t remember the last time the folks around me weren’t friendly towards me. You have to remember to not cause a pause by anyone backing into the water, or anyone pulling up to the ramp from the water. In other words, if I pull up to the ramp right behind someone who is pulling their boat out, I’ll be in the way of the guy waiting to back his trailer in. If someone just pulls up and is tying up, and has to walk up to get their car and trailer, there’s my spot to share while staying out of their way. I’ll be out and long gone before they back their trailer down the ramp, and so I’m a non-factor in powerboat access.

Under normal circumstances, nobody should be in an emergency because they have to wait on land. But somebody could be in an emergency if they have to wait on the water (motorboat running out of fuel, persons on the boat running out of bladder, boat taking in water, persons on the boat being ill, etc), and the people on land can’t know if the boat in the water is in any of those situations.

Consequently, it would make sense that boats going out of the water would as a general rule have priority over boats going into the water. (Of course with exceptions such as rescue vessels going into the water).

But I don’t know about any rules or etiquette, written nor unwritten.