Boating – The Good, Bad, and Ugly

The Earth’s surface is 75 % water! Why not put that 75% to good use by going boating or fishing? Boating is recreational fun that can be shared with every member of the family. However, nothing ruins a day of fishing or boating quite like an incompetent boater practicing bad on-the-water etiquette. Everything from launching the boat to leaving the boat ramp can be done with ease while practicing proper etiquette. Any good day of fishing or boating, as with eating a meal, can be ruined with improper manners.

Having experienced acts like these on numerous occasions, it is quite easy to see ways of fixing these bad habits. These are simple things that can be done while boating or fishing to make the day more enjoyable while avoiding any conflicts while at the ramp or on the water. Before leaving the driveway to begin a new boating adventure, check the vessel being towed to make sure everything is hooked up correctly. The last thing anyone wants is to pull away from the driveway and the boat separate from the hitch.

Florida law requires that every vessel have one personal flotation device (PFD) per person on board. Florida law also states that a fire extinguisher and a throw-able flotation devices are required for every vessel over sixteen feet in length. Make sure these items are intact, along with the plug for the vessel, before leaving the driveway. When arriving at the boat ramp, the first thing that needs to be done is to pull off to the side somewhere and prepare the vessel for launch. This is the proper time to take off any straps that attach the boat to the trailer and also to load anything from the tow-vehicle to the boat that will be taken out on the water.

Before getting in line to launch, double check that the vessel is properly prepared and that the plug is in. When approaching the ramp, be sure that ropes are already attached or that the boat is prepared for launch. Whether easing the boat off with ropes or motoring off the trailer, try and get the boat in the water as quick as possible while still being safe. Holding up a boat launch has caused many conflicts that are ridiculous to begin with, and besides the fact is crowds the boat ramp.

Once the boat in launched, pull away from the ramp, allowing other people to launch their boats and enables them to get out on the water also. Be sure when parking the tow vehicle to lock it up and stow any valuables where they cannot be seen. Once out on the water practice common courtesy and be as courteous and humanly possible. Obey all posted laws such as no wake zones, idle zones, and speed limits. Be aware of other boaters and fisherman around you. If you come upon a vessel that is anchored, practice common courtesy and put a good distance between yourself and them as to not swamp them with a big wake. Common courtesy is often rewarded out on the water. Having seen many boaters make complete ignoramuses out of themselves, being courteous makes the trip so much more enjoyable.

Unfortunately all good things must come to an end. When approaching the boat ramp to reload, there is a possibility of a line to get to the ramp. As with any line, take your place in the line and patiently wait for your turn to reload. Shutting off the vessel’s motor may be a wise decision as there is no need to waste fuel. When it is getting close to your turn to reload, slowly make your way towards the dock and drop off the person that has been designated to go get the tow vehicle. Once the trailer is backed down the ramp, go ahead and ease towards the ramp and reload the vessel. Be sure before pulling up the ramp to secure the vessel to the trailer by re-attaching the bow strap to the bow of the boat. Once reloaded, pull away from the ramp and unload the vessel. After it has been unloaded, it is time to begin the venture back to reality.

Boating and fishing are all about enjoying nature and spending time with family and friends. Having an outing ruined by an ill-mannered is frustrating in itself. Practicing proper boating etiquette will make the trip more enjoyable for everyone.

Remember, take a kid boating or fishing, the memories will last forever.

Taylor Willis (FiveAlive)

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