Separate area for Put In / Take Out

There’s a planning meeting soon in regards to upgrades at a local park near where I live. The park is situated along the Ohio river in the small town of Westport KY, and the parks department is asking for community/user input. Currently there’s a good sized concrete launch ramp that will handle side by side launchings of decent sized power boats. I use this ramp as well for my kayak put in/take out. I’ve not had any “major” issues at the ramp when power boats are present, but they do tend to “overlook” smaller boats and zoom right down the ramp to put in even when I’ve been queued up to take out. I’ve got no beef with power boats, everybody has the right to use the waterways.

Since the parks dept. is looking for improvement to this park, I’d like to be able to put a bug in their ear about a separate put in area for non-motorized boats. Currently there are a couple of good sized floating docks off to the side of the ramp, but they sit a few feet above the water line making it nearly impossible for put in/take out for kayaks/canoes. I did take out at the shoreline once, sunk to my knees in muck, so that’s not an option. Keep in mind this is on the Ohio River, so there’s always a current and it is prone to flooding in the spring. What other options are there for some type of small launching platform or dock accessory?

The following links show a bit of the existing ramp as well as the two floating docks.



ramps in PA
Here in SW Pennsylavania we have a number of boat ramps on the Ohio and its two large feeders, the Allegheny and Monongahela, that municipalities have built for the use of kayakers and canoeists so that we don’t have to share with the power boaters and their trailers. These are mostly gently sloping concrete ramps from 2 to 5 feet wide, sometimes with the bottoms made of rough blocks of stone about 8" square. They are unaffected by water level.

When the most recent one was built the authority sought advice from paddlers and responded by adding a gently sloping concrete sidewalk with no steps that led from the parking lot to the boat ramp. This greatly aids people using boat dollies.

Because kayaks and canoes in PA are required to have an annual paid launch permit sticker on them to use state or Fish and Game Commission landing sites, we do have some standing to demand equal access to the ramps used by the power boaters (one good feature of paying to play). My friends and I try to be good neighbors about this by not hogging the ramps. We prep and rig our boats off to the side on the grass until we are ready to quickly carry them to the ramp and launch. Rarely have trouble with this but it is still really nice to have dedicated paddler only ramps areas.

Lower floating dock
Teather something like this to the end or side of the existing floating docks to create a transition area.

low dock or beach
I didn’t see the floating docks in your pictures (unless the barges were it), but no matter.

The easy option is to add a low dock on to part of the floating dock. Something where the deck is under a foot above water level. That makes it easy for paddlesports folks to launch and land.

Our area here is tidal, so we also have to worry about varying water levels. Here is a picture for the Port of Redwood City of their low dock for hand launched boats. In the background, you can see the parallel docks that go with the launch ramp - much higher, so not as friendly for kayaks and such.

There are a variety of commercial dock materials available made for this.

Or they could remove some of the rip rap at the side of the launch ramp (or in a nearby spot) and turn it into a sandy beach for hand launching, separating the trailers from the hand launches.

boat ramps

– Last Updated: Mar-17-15 11:05 AM EST –

Any boat ramp big enough for power boats usually has good road access and a parking lot. There are almost always places near the ramp that are good for launching kayaks and canoes. Sometimes vegetation needs to be removed.

The big rivers in the West often have a system of good boat ramps. The smaller rivers often have no ramps at all. Sometimes there is no choice but to launch over a guard rail and down the bank. Be appreciative of boat ramps that already exist and don't worry so much about special areas for canoes and kayaks.

like Peter-Ca showed
The low floating dock or beach is the best. DONT get one of those roller kayak launches that there putting in around me in Buffalo NY. They suck. There fine for plastic kayaks but can crack a fiberglass kayak if not real careful. Low floating dock I think is best. Plus not to much money to make them.


– Last Updated: Mar-17-15 1:38 PM EST –

Well, there are many places back east which get so much use that friction and bad feeling between power boaters and paddle users is common. I've waited 15 minutes plus for boaters, or multiple boaters, to clear a ramp in a location where putting in a kayak off to the side is not an option. Usually I go paddle around some more, but sometimes people are just not moving as quick as they should.

I've also seen paddle groups with their boats lined up across a boat ramp, fiddling with equipment while boats idled in the channel waiting for them to clear out. This happens at kayak-only put-ins too, of course, and is just as annoying, or more so.

It's really much better to have separate ramps. I prefer a sand beach, with a gently sloping paved ramp as a close second. Now, if we could just keep the odd clueless fishermen from using the kayak put-in as a location to set up a chair and put out a bunch of lines....

I like the roller launches
But I only have plastic boats.

I’m also in WNY…do you think we’ll ever get in the water after this winter?

rollers are fine for plastic
Sure the roller launches for plastic kayaks are just fine but for gel coated fiberglass kayaks there not. What should be put in should be useable for all. I contacted the company that makes those roller launches but they just ignored me. There definitely not paddlers.

Yes we will have water soon. Ellicott creek has open water now. BUT its going to be cold water for a long time.

Small shore launch area

– Last Updated: Mar-19-15 5:25 AM EST –

They recently put in a new boat ramp on the Seekonk River near me that includes floating docks, a concrete boat launch, and a small shore launch for canoes and kayaks (or fishing). You can see the stairs leading down to the shore launch on the left in this picture. They did install some stones along the shore because muck can be a problem on this river as well.

this may help get funding

– Last Updated: Mar-19-15 3:12 PM EST –

Accessible launches. They even help locate possible funding sources (grants mainly). Ohio DNR participates in the Access to Recreation Grant program, which provides funding for universal access to recreational facilities.

I don't work for them but they're good. If you tell the parks department there may be grant funding available, they may get interested.