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Adventures in Launching

By Connie Kilpatrick
Southern Staff Writer


July 24, 2009

Summer time is in full swing - and so are all the water enthusiasts. My husband and I get up early, load up the boat and off we go to the boat ramp only to groan,  “Whoa is me!” I was beginning to wonder if it was just me, or if other folks had horror stories at the ramp, so I did some investigating and here’s what I found out (names have been removed to protect the innocent).

• “Sure! Just about everyone I know has had to deal with people that don't know what they're doing on the ramp and don't care about anyone else. Add that on the top of stupid and it doesn't take many of these people to screw up a ramp.”

• “I’ve never had trouble. Everyone has always been very thoughtful and courteous at this ramp . . sorta like Wal-Mart the day after Thanksgiving!”
• “I thought I'd seen it all. I hate to say it, but it was a bass boat. They backed down the ramp at Goose Pond on Guntersville with the cover still on the boat, then they loaded the boat with their rods, tackle, drinks and pfd's right there on the ramp, and then the driver "ran up to the store" to get a couple of bags of ice. No kiddin’! I think if people paid attention to what was going on around them they’d learn a bunch. The funniest thing I had happen to me was when I was fishing an evening tournament by myself, and I just dumped my boat. A guy went running out on the slick boat ramp and busted it big time, and then he informed me that he had ‘done everything he possibly could to catch my boat.’ I just smiled and said that my buddy was fixing to run me out to my rig. Priceless.”

• “Well, I’ve been thinking of setting up chairs, a cooler, maybe even my grill at the ramps on the big holidays just to watch. If it wasn’t so hot, I'd do it. There’s always some major entertainment at the ramps.” 

• “One foggy morning I was at the ramp about to back the boat into the Ohio River. A man who had just put in told me to be real careful as there was a car just under water. Sure there was a car just deep enough to be hard to see. That guy sure saved me a lot of trouble. I’m thinking that car was stolen.”

“My favorite is the folks who feel the need to wipe down and clean their boats on the ramp. Can't pull up to clear the ramp to do that, nope, they gotta do it right there on the ramp. My experience is that most fishermen try to clear the ramp quickly. Most of my bad experiences are w/ recreational bubbas. My buddies and I think there oughta be a practical exam for all recreational boaters - you must successfully back a rig down a ramp on the first try before you’re allowed to use it. We feel this would save a lotta ramp time and space.”

• “This is a reoccurring theme for me: We usually never have a problem getting in the water since we’re at the ramp early in the day. It's trying to come off the water when the pleasure boaters are either coming in or going out. It seems like every other time out, there's a couple of yahoos trying to get their boat loaded, the hard way, of course. I love the look on their faces when I back the trailer down and take a seat on the tailgate while my wife makes the perfect landing and then powers up to the boweye in one smooth motion. I crank down the strap; she trims up the motor and I usually try to say something so the other folks can hear me, such as: ‘Well that was easy,’ or perhaps, ‘What took you so long?’ Sometimes I’ll throw in, ‘You were a little crooked coming in,’ or ‘That was okay, but you’ll get better.’”

• “Every year about this time when the Atchafalaya Basin gets to 'fishing' level I wonder when I'm gonna read a story in the paper about a guy getting shot at the ramp.”

• “Hmm, where to start? You know, in humbleness of spirit, I don't remember ever being ‘that guy’, the one who couldn't back a trailer, and this is not one of those hypocritical rants as if ONLY the bass fishermen can use the lake. But MY WORD the pleasure boaters are unbelievable with their ramp antics. I think about this a lot: If these people are this technically inept and thoughtlessly inconsiderate at the ramp, why do I expect more from them on the water? I often comment to my wife sometimes when we're driving, ‘That person acts like they are the only one on the road,’ and that behavior carries over to the ramp, too. You don't have to wipe your doggone boat down at all, but if you do, PLEASE get COMPLETELY away from the ramp before you do it.

• “I just wonder at what point a person justifies the expense of buying a boat when they don't have the know-how to operate it. Seriously guys, if you can't back a trailer or load the boat, can you really drive it?”