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Old 05-08-2007, 02:17 AM   #1
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Default PSA - Keeping Your Head at the Public Docks

I'm a recent transplant from the D.C. area to just north of Tampa FL on the coast. As a boater who has trailered my boats to the public dock for the last four years I've seen quite a few mishaps and close calls and a few 'high pressure' public docks. High pressure in the sense that as the ramp lines grow, so do the tempers.

Of course there are many at the ramps with a wide range of experience. I've seen the new boat owners with the kids in life vests, getting really frustrated at the wife who is struggling to interpret the incredibly anxious and stressed out husband's directions, to the frustrated fishermen who are stuck in the water waiting for a chance to pull out (they are always coming in when the pleasure boating weekenders are heading out).

If I had a dollar for every newbie I've seen forget to take off their trailer straps or worse, forget to install their drain plug ( I always keep two or three on hand to give the exasperated boaters who think their day is over before it began) or forget to trim their prop when pulling out. And yet the majority of these 'mishaps' are caused not so much for forgetful newbies but rather these new boaters are letting the pressure of the ramp line get to them.

I've been there myself. In VA I first started off my boating at a public ramp at the state park. Me and half the state on Saturday mornings. The very first time I went out in my first boat I forgot to pull the outboard up and wedged it on the ramp. The line in the water was ten boats long and ten trucks deep up on land. I learned a thing right then and there about staying calm and running through my check list. Not just for the boats sake but also for safety. I've seen a few boaters forget their plugs and almost not make it back.

Down here in FL I put in at the local public dock. Five ramps and usually five deep at each ramp on the weekends at all times. This past weekend I put in at the peak hour on Saturday. No prob, I could do this in my sleep. Well, I go to fire up the engine and no deal. 5 minutes later and a dozen tries it still wouldn't fire. Seemed like there wasn't any fuel. Nope, full tank. Clogged line? Could be. I checked the carb and saw I was getting fuel. 10 minutes and the line getting longer and crankier. I was getting "the stares". No one came to ask if there was anything they could do, but instead a few hands in the air told me it's time to pull her out. My day was done before it started. But I told myself "keep your head". I made a mental check starting with the simple things first. Fuel? Check, Kill switch on? Che...nope. Then it hit me, I had paid my nephew to UV protect my interior and he must have hit the switch when wiping that area. A flip of the switch and away we went. Still faster than the pontoon in the ramp next to me.

So, keeping my head and not letting the line fluster me allowed me to think through the issue and get out on the water.

I've learned allot from putting in at the public ramps and a few things are;
-Keep your head. The folks on land are excited to get in the water but five minutes isn't going to kill them as you check off your gear.
-Offer a hand if you see someone having an issue. Motorcyclists are a close knit bunch (I've been riding for 12 years) boaters should be too.
-Be patient of new boaters and older boaters who may not be moving as fast as you would like them too. It's one thing if the old guy is standing around talking to his buddy but just because they are slow doesn't mean they don't have the right to be there.
-Oh, and I really don't like public ramps.

Happy boating!
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Old 05-08-2007, 02:48 AM   #2
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really good advice there racer....keeping your head gets you to look at the simple things and not loose your temper.....I found out that the hardway.....
we had just gotten out maxum 2700 scr...we put into the local marina and was going to move from one dock to one closer to our friends.....well..try as I might...the engine wouldn't fire...I could hear the fuel pump charging the system...but no spark....I checked everything and finally since it was still fairly early...I called my friend at bayliner...he sent a mechanic over and hit...tugged..checked and just when I was about to put my head in my hands and thinking this is gonna cost me a house payment.....I looked up and there on the throttle was the kill switch in the dead position...yep....somehow I had hit it and it was off....I told the mechanic to stop ...I think I found the problem...hit the switch and then the starter...sure nuff...fired right up....I was so friggin embarrased that that's the first thing I checked...I offered a beer or soda or something but he was nice and said they'd think of something to charge the warranty co.....it was a stupid mistake that could have cost me some serious change......so...it's the simple things to look for first..... :wink:

thanks for the post.....
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Old 05-08-2007, 05:57 PM   #3
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LOL, the kill switch... Been there, stuck on the water once in a friends boat. We tore apart the fuel line thinking no fuel was going through (it was a problem he had before) after an hour of going nuts we find it was the darn kill switch..

The first time out in my boat I couldnt start it.. Scratching my head for an hour, finally my friend comes to the marina and starts cracking up.. He pumps the throttle twice and starts it up.. ops: ops: , damn fuel injected engines..

I realize these scenerios didnt happen at a loading ramp, but im sure I would have been the shmuck holding up the traffic.
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Old 05-08-2007, 11:07 PM   #4
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Now I don't feel so bad guys. On my first venture, I couldn't get the engine to stay running. After the fourth attempt, I realized that I was engaging the drive instead of hitting the button to go throttle only. Sunday was my fourth time out with a boat of our own, second with the family. After getting the boat on the trailer, the wife started pulling the truck up, got about 3 feet and said it felt like the brake was on. It'll feel that way when you leave the outdrive down and it hits the ramp. Luckily, my neighbor had drug his coming out of his driveway that morning and it made me think about mine. As soon as I raised it, she had no problem pulling out. Atleast I know I'm not the only one who has those "over 40 monents."
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Old 05-08-2007, 11:15 PM   #5
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I'm 55 as of last month(apr 28th)....I have so many senior moments it ain't funny!!....wait till you hit my age....
:shock:
hell I blew by 40 at about mach 1.4!!
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Old 05-08-2007, 11:41 PM   #6
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Quote:
.....I looked up and there on the throttle was the kill switch in the dead position
I've seen that happen to a couple of friends of mine

Best one I've seen - Ramp up on Lake Chelan always a big line up and we put our boat in with all the nuggets with their first boat. Guy has a brand new Sea Ray. He is in the boat and his wife is backing into the water (taking for ever) so I get out and help her back in. I can see the boat is unhooked from the trailer and when it's deep enough to start to float the boat.
I told to tap the breaks and the boat should float right off - and it did just that!
The trailer pops off the ball and goes right down the ramp after the boat. Yep there is the trailer sitting at the bottom of the ramp in about 20' of water and the guys is about half way across the lake and she is racing away to park the truck :shock:

A few guys went to find her, couldn't, so we just kept lanching boats. Often wonder when they figured out where their trailer was?
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Old 07-18-2007, 12:07 AM   #7
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2nd time out on the lake this past Sunday I forgot to put my plug in. I drove around for a good 10 minutes. I got off the gas and water litterally came up over the back of the boat and it had 3" standing on the rear carpet. I quickly grabbed the plug, killed the engine, dove in and put the plug in and had my wife hit the pump switch. I didn't even dare to try and get back in the boat till it was pumped out. Yea it took about 20-25 minutes to pump all the water out that got in....

That same day my wife went to jump from the boat to the dock. Yea, boat moved, she didn't and ate it 1/2 on the dock 1/2 on the water. It looked like it hurt but she's a toughy and laughed it off.

Luckly I'm used to hauling cars on trailers so backing up is cake. I have the wife launch and trailer up the boat while I drive. I'm amazed at how some people get their boats in. Its like they go full speed and slam on the brakes tossing the boat into the water.

*Raises hand* Noobs here!!!!
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Old 07-18-2007, 03:04 AM   #8
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welcome to the zoo....that sounded like it hurt!!......haha..
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Old 08-28-2007, 06:43 PM   #9
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I think I've actually lived out all of these scenarios.
Forgot plug -yes.
Forgot to unhook straps - yes.
Kill switch - yes.
Latest - pulled truck down, loaded boat, truck battery decided to die, had to take battery out of boat and put in truck.

But my favorite one was, when my dog locked my truck doors with my truck on the ramp. Warning - if you have electric locks and a dog, be sure to leave a window down. I was lucky I was able to pop the sliding back window open.
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Old 08-28-2007, 07:55 PM   #10
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Quote:
Warning - if you have electric locks and a dog, be sure to leave a window down.
Good warning.

I would say you should always keep your windows down while on the ramp.
If your tow vehicle ends up in the water, it would be much easier for you or your dog to escape.
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