OK, I admit it — I am a boat ramp snob! I wish I wasn’t, but for some reason I have little patience for inefficiencies at the ramp.
How can I have the patience to fish all day for just one bite from a fish, but if something holds me up for even 15 seconds at the ramp, I become irked? Where is my patience then? I think there needs to be a 12-step program for those who are like me. And I know others are out there, because I’ve seen you in action instructing others to “move” or” hurry-up.” Fortunately my laid-back demeanor keeps me from barking orders at strangers. But if I must engage somebody, I am respectful and polite even though I may be annoyed at the situation.
Here’s a rundown, in no particular order, of some things that tend to bother me at the ramp:
- People fishing from the boat launch or the dock at the launch. Usually these are marked “no fishing,” but certain people ignore that. I don’t mind the folks that are very polite and realize the launch’s primary purpose. And I don’t mind kids who are fishing; they always get a free pass with me. But defiant adults who interfere with the normal operations of a boat launch — they bug me. Most commonly, they leave their lines out to hinder proper use of the dock and/or ramp. It’s like they “dare” you to glide over their lines. And if they have to move a line, they get this all annoyed attitude!
- Swimmers at the ramp. Just like fishing at the ramp, swimming is often prohibited, too. Again, if it’s a couple of kids who rode their bikes to swim at the ramp, I’m cool with it. It’s probably something I would have done too as a kid. But if an adult has brought their family to swim at the boat launch, I’m going to be annoyed, because the adult should know better. There’s nothing worse than having to idle through swimmers as you navigate the boat on and off the trailer. I have this freakish Stephen King-like vision of somebody getting sucked into the prop.
Ramp-stagers. These are the folks who back their boat trailer onto the ramp before prepping it for launching. They also stop on the ramp when pulling their boat from the lake. I view them as huge time-wasters as I may have to sit waiting behind them for several minutes as they prep their boat. All boat prepping should be done well clear of the ramp, whether the boat is going in or coming out.
- Sight-seers. These are the folks that park their vehicle on the ramp to simply enjoy the scenic view of the lake. They have no boat, no jet ski, no nothing. They are there to watch the lake. They are very innocent and just about every time they are harmless and move before they cost me any time. But my boat ramp snobbery shines through a bit here. I can’t help it, these people bug me. I need to chill.
- Poor back-up skills. We were all beginners at one time, and backing up a boat trailer takes a bit of practice. I just hope that when the person finally gets the trailer in position, they aren’t blocking all the lanes! I probably have had more laughs at this, than frustration. Especially when you have some idiot husband sitting in the boat getting angry at his wife behind the wheel of the truck. I truly feel bad for these women for being married to such a blowhard.
- No parking spaces. Not much I can do about this other than blame myself for not getting up earlier. However, it still frustrates me when I see cars/trucks without trailers parking in designated trailer parking areas. Or there’s always the guy who can’t park within the lines and now a space goes unused. Sometimes a little creativity with parking will save you, like parking on the grass. Just be knowledgeable of the rules, because I know ramps where you will get ticketed for parking in the wrong place such as on the grass.
- Trailer damage. Unavoidable. It’s crazy the number of times my boat trailer has been “dinged” while it’s properly parked. I’ll never forget a certain occasion when I test drove my boat on a local lake. After launching, I properly parked in a parking space with empty spaces on both sides. But sure enough, despite being in the water for only 20 minutes, when I returned to my truck and trailer, my trailer’s tail light lay broken on the pavement in a hundred pieces! And, of course, the culprit had split without leaving a note.
- Valve Stem cap stealers. This used to be a huge problem on Lake Minnetonka in Minnesota and maybe it still is, but I wouldn’t know because I don’t get out there but a couple times a year now. But anyways, these caps always went missing from trailer tires after trips to Minnetonka.
- Ramp fees. Yes I do pay them, but aren’t they annoying? They are another time waster. First, I may find myself scrambling in every nook of the truck and boat looking for proper change because I forgot to bring the appropriate bills. Have you ever left a $10 bill to pay a ramp fee of $3 like I have done with those “honor boxes?” I hate that! I have to remember to have some dollar bills available! Second, you have to fill out those envelopes at the do-it-yourself pay ramps. Where did I put that pen that may or may not work? Hah, a revelation. I’m the one annoying everybody in this case as they wait behind me because I wasn’t prepared!
- Pesky invasive species inspectors. In Minnesota, inspectors monitor boat ramps asking you questions such as “where you have been” and “where you are going.” They also check your boat for weeds and make sure your boat plug is in or out depending upon whether you are coming or going. Leave me alone! They annoy me on so many levels. Mostly because the validity of their efforts is seriously questionable. But I tell myself these are well-meaning folks and I treat them with respect while they “process” me and my rig.
No docks/bad docks. I understand that the amount of use a ramp receives often dictates the amenities available. But it still is annoying when a dock isn’t present. That means I have to beach my boat and be careful to avoid rocks and such. But even with care, sometimes I’ll hear that cringing screech of gelcoat on rock. And even just as annoying is when there is a dock, but it is armored with numerous sharp metal edges waiting to carve the gelcoat on your boat. I kind of expect a crappy dock at a remote ramp, but when it’s at a heavily used facility or at a pay ramp, that’s just wrong!
- No power loading. I mostly find this regulation in the state of Michigan where using an outboard beyond idle speed to load a boat on its trailer is illegal. Bass boats and their trailers load extremely easy by simply driving the boat onto the trailer. But it is not completely achievable at idle speed, therefore a person has to get out and crank the boat up the remainder of the way using the wench. This really can slow down the flow at busy ramps and wastes time.
- A definite downer when you return to your vehicle after fishing all day and find a window smashed. And then, of course, things are missing inside your truck. I’m quite certain that on one occasion, my truck had its fuel tank siphoned!
Being a boat ramp snob, I’m sure I could dream up some more things that annoy me at boat ramps. I really wish I had more patience at the ramp and I wish I wasn’t a snob, but man, I really want to get out fishing…now!
However, in the end, I always exercise politeness and respect to my fellow boaters. And after all, that guy that cost me two minutes while launching, might be the guy later that fetches me some fuel after I have mistakenly burned my gas tank dry in my boat!
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Guide Outdoors Readers: What annoys you most about launching and pulling your boat out at the local ramp? Please comment below.