Unfortunately, accidents at boat ramps occur regularly, both in the water and on the land. As an avid boater and former captain, I have seen plenty of close calls but, fortunately, no accidents. Remember that there are ways to avoid colliding with vessels in the water or other vehicles while on land. Here is what you need to know about avoiding boat ramp accidents. 

Avoiding Boat Ramp Accidents Launching And Retrieving Vessels

Without question, boat ramps are busy places, especially during the weekend when a significant percentage of the population is off from work. However, with that said, boat ramp accidents can occur at any time. Here is how to avoid an accident with your vehicle at the boat ramp. 

Wait Your Turn

It is not uncommon that weekend warriors are running late when it comes to getting out on the water. With that said, boat owners rush at ramps to launch the boat in as quickly a time as possible. 

However, this doesn’t mean that you can jump ahead of the line. Unfortunately, it is imperative to remain in line and wait your turn. Cutting ahead increases the likelihood of not only an accident but also making fellow boat owners angry. 

Watch For Pedestrians

People are moving about launches constantly and even cutting across boat ramps. Take it from me: it is not uncommon for pedestrians to walk directly behind the moving trailer while in reverse or in front of the tow vehicle while moving forward. 

For this reason, you must keep a close eye on people to avoid hitting them with the boat trailer or tow vehicle. 

Look For Traffic From All Directions

Unfortunately, boat launches are designed like mazes with traffic moving every which way. Considering the irregular traffic flow, vehicles are likely to be coming at you from every direction. 

It is imperative to keep a close on vehicles moving both in front of you and behind you to avoid colliding. If need be, remain patient and allow a nearby vehicle to move out of the way to lessen the burden of launching or retrieving a boat. 

Keep An Eye Out For Slick Ramps

One of the most slippery places at a boat ramp is where the water touches the concrete launch slab. 

No question about it: I have slid down ramps and spun my tires moving up the ramp. However, it is possible to lose control of the vehicle and slide into the dock or other vehicles. 

With that said, drive the vehicle slowly in reverse when launching and slowly forward when retrieving. This will allow you the best control to avoid a boat ramp accident. 

Avoiding Boat Ramp Accidents While In The Water

Yes, boat accidents do occur at boat launches. Boat owners maneuver the vessel, waiting for the tow vehicle to be backed into the water. Often, the maneuvering is done in close quarters. Here is how to avoid colliding with other vessels at a boat ramp. 

Don’t Crowd The Launch Dock

One of the biggest mistakes that boaters make is crowding the launch. Crowding the dock prevents fellow boaters from navigating safely away or towards the dock. 

Remember, boat operators are not only forced to safely maneuver the boat, but they are combating wind and current. Adding on weaving through traffic is not necessary. 

Move well away from the boat launch dock until you’re ready to come alongside for retrieval or if you left something behind and need to go back to the tow vehicle. 

Be Courteous And Wait For Your Turn

Not only do vehicle drivers cut ahead, but so do vessel operators. You should never cut ahead of other boaters to beat them to the ramp when it is time to retrieve the vessel. 

Without a doubt, racing a boat in tight quarters with a substantial amount of marine traffic leads to accidents. Trust me, if you cause an accident, you’ll spend hours filling out reports versus waiting a few extra minutes for your turn.

Don’t be that jerk at the ramp who is jockeying for position ahead of everyone else. 

Back Away From The Dock Cautiously

I have seen over and over when boat operators throttle hard in reverse when pulling away from the dock. 

Not only are you putting your passengers at risk of falling, but also colliding with boats or even the dock. With that said, slowly back out away from the dock and steer the vessel clear of traffic. 

Dropping the boat into hard reverse will put you out of control quickly, and it will be challenging to recover. 

Avoid Boat Ramp Accidents In And Out Of The Water

No question about it it is entirely possible to avoid boat ramp accidents both in and out of the water. The key is to remain patient and respect the boat owners around you. Trust me, I want to get on the water as soon as possible, too, but you just need to remain patient or beat the traffic by heading out early in the morning.