1189 Phinney's Lane, Centerville, MA. 02632

Launching Ramp Tips and Etiquette


Launching Ramp Tips and Etiquette!


Boats waiting to launch should  give way to boats being hauled out as people in the water waiting to haul cannot see or count vehicles in the parking lot and do not know what the waiting order is. You’ll need the space they are occupying anyway, and since parking is almost very always limited you or someone else will need the spot being vacated! With no empty parking spots left no one can launch anyway.  Here are some helpful hints and tips to avoid personal frustrations and danger at the local boat ramps and to avoid aggravating your fellow boaters. 



  1. Prepare the vessel and trailer for launching before backing down the ramp


Load all necessary equipment from your vehicle to the boat in the standby area – not while occupying the ramp or after launching.  Undo your highway hold down straps but not your winch cable and safety chain. Dry launches are disastrous! Make sure your drain plug is installed and your battery has juice for starting and the engine is primed. Have your lines and fenders tied off and ready. If someone else is prepared to launch before you let them go – don’t hold someone else up by your lack of preparation. If you are unsure about backing down have someone assist you or better yet practice away from the ramp before the season starts.


  1. Launch the vessel into the water


Back down the ramp until the proper depth for launching is reached. Set the vehicle in park and firmly set the parking brake. For large vessels we recommend chalking the wheels at this point. Undo the winch safety chain and then the winch cable. You might have to cleat the boat off before undoing the winch strap to prevent pressure from making the winch cable strap unmovable. Make a controlled launch by using a long bow line and applying tension on the line with the trailer winch stand, vehicle part or dock cleat. Note: large vessels can exert considerable pull – don’t let the vessel get away from you and do damage.


  1. Immediately remove the vessel from the launching area to the pickup part of the dock


Don’t be a ramp or dock hog! In many locations the area directly behind the launch ramp is limited and if you tie up there while you go to park the vehicle or fiddle with the boat others cannot launch. In no case should you leave the boat unattended at the ramp dock for more than a moment or two to start and/or move the boat to the loading dock.


  1. Vessel recovery


Essentially the same as the launch but in reverse! Get the trailer ready while waiting in line. Winch lines should be pulled off the winch and ready to deploy. Attach any needed lines to the vessel or trailer. Put your boots on if you need to be in the water to haul. Wait your turn and back down to the proper depth. Chalk the vehicle wheels if the boat is heavy or the ramp steep. Haul out as quickly as possible. Secure winch strap and safety chain. Ease up the ramp and pull the boat and trailer up to the standby parking area to put away any remaining gear and install highway hold down straps.


Lastly, have patience.  If you are accomplished at trailering, offer to help others if needed.  Someone probably helped you at one time or another.  Don’t let the ramp activity ruin your boating day!



Note:  Special thanks to Paul Caruso for the idea and putting this together.







Director/Harbor Master
Dan Horn
Mooring Officer/Assistant Harbormaster
Brian W. Taylor
Marina Manager/Assistant Harbormaster
Derek Lawson
Pumpout/Asst. HM
Jarod Smoller
P 508-790-6273
F 508-790-6275
E Harbor Master
1189 Phinney's Lane
Centerville, MA. 02632

Public Records
Ann Quirk
Public Records Request


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