Are you asking everyone you know, “Are there any public boat ramps near me?”
Apparently, you are unaware of how easily you can find the closest boat ramps in your area with the following:
Many more people today are on the lookout for public boat ramps they can use for free. Most boat and jet ski owners have paid high prices to buy their toys, so they are trying to save money where they can.
When you add regular maintenance costs, plus the fees that marinas charge to launch PWCs, ownership can get pretty expensive.
Certainly, there are lots of other ways to store your jet ski, as well as launch it, such as floating docks or jet ski lifts, but these options are not available to everyone. Boat and PWC owners very commonly use public boat ramps for launching their crafts, which means they need a way to find where the nearest ones are.
Locator Tool – Public Boat Ramps Near Me
It can be challenging to figure out where the nearest free boat ramp is, especially if you’re in a new area. However, now there is an online locator tool that you can use to do just this!
Using this tool, you can also find bodies of water, marinas, places where you can go boating, ride your jet ski and even where you can go jet ski fishing!
TakeMeFishing is actually the company powering this tool, and this is where you can get the most recent fishing reports, plus lots of other information on fishing.
The other way to locate free ramps is just google for “Public Boat Ramps Near Me” and choose the closest ramp in your area!
Common Problems with Public Boat Ramps
With this locator tool, finding a boat ramp is easier than ever. But you are still likely to run into problems trying to launch your craft, unless you’re very experienced at this.
A jet ski is of course a lot easier to launch than a big boat because you’ll take a lot less gear, which means you can get everything ready that much faster. Yes or no?
Just hang on a minute, people are making a complete spectacle in trying to launch their boat!
This is a very familiar sight with a lot of different issues, but this “scene” is probably something you’ve witnessed many times.
Owners are getting their boat or jet ski loaded up on the ramp, having problems backing up the trailer, busy chatting with others, and/or they don’t have the slightest clue how to get their vessel launched.
During this time, you and everyone else wanting to launch their jet ski or boat have no choice but to wait it out.
We all run into problems from time to time, especially beginners. But in most cases these problems are completely avoidable with proper knowledge and preparation. A lot of owners really haven’t taken the time to learn how to properly launch their jet ski or boat. These rules and techniques are not spelled out because they’re mostly basic common sense.
So, to help new boat and jet ski owners, we at JetDrift have put together a list of the rules that should be followed, along with some tips for “Proper Boat Ramp Protocol.”
Even if you have a lot of experience launching your boat or jet ski, we’re quite sure you’ll find this guide helpful!
If you want more information, just keep reading! There are a lot of key points that make launching your jet ski easier as well as step-by-step instructions on exactly how to launch on a public boat ramp!
Proper Boat Ramp Protocol
Prepare in Advance
Proper boat ramp protocol demands that you undertake your pre-launch preparation in advance, long before you approach the boat ramp. It’s terribly inconsiderate of you to make others wait behind while you get everything ready. There’s no excuse for this!
You will find that beginners often make this mistake because they really don’t know what they’re doing. Others are just being rude, hogging the entire boat ramp while they gather up all the gear they want to take, get the lines ready, put the drain plug in, or worse, realize they have a dead battery or engine!
Find out about any local rules and follow them. Don’t ignore this tip!
It’s helpful to know that some places have it set up so that loading ramps are separate from launching ramps. If you are launching for the first time, look around for separate lines for launching and retrieving.
Furthermore, many marinas have several boat ramp lanes, but because there are no dividers, it can look like a single very wide boat ramp. If it’s a busy marina, avoid going down the middle lane because you can end up clogging things up for all the others in line.
Use the farthest ramp to the side as possible, so people can launch their boat or jet ski next to you. It makes no sense to have one trailer take up a bunch of lanes.
Go to the water’s edge to see if there’s any algae that could cause your tires to spin while you’re loading or unloading. Look for seaweed or driftwood that could impede you and remove it.
The next thing you need to do is to get your jet ski ready for launching. There is usually a designated spot for this called the staging area.
To avoid jamming up the boat ramp and causing avoidable delays during your launch or when retrieving your jet ski, get everything prepared in advance in this area, including loading and unloading. Others will be thankful that you were considerate enough to get prepared ahead of time.
Steps to Complete Your Pre-Launch Preparation
There are many things you need to check and double check prior to launching your jet ski. Doing all of this when you’re already in line at a crowded boat ramp is unfair to everyone else waiting in line.
- When you enter the parking lot, move over as far to the side as possible, letting others go in front of you to launch their jet skis or boats.
- Put in your plug, remove the straps and cover, make sure your engine starts (but don’t run it more than a 30 seconds!), load your gear into the storage compartment, and do anything else you need to do so you don’t clog up the line.
- Take the time to completely go through your jet ski’s pre-ride checklist. Do not forget to pick up the seat to smell for gas vapors coming from the hull. This is critical as these vapors can cause an explosion! These checklists are different for every model, so refer to your owner’s manual for the correct checklist.
Doing all of these tasks off to the side keeps you from clogging up the ramp, plus you have plenty of time to properly take care of each step to ensure your safety since no one is rushing you.
Make it a habit to move to the staging area and take your time getting prepared. Everyone else on the boat ramp will thank you!
Jet ski launching
Proper protocol means that you are as quick and efficient as possible when it comes time to launch.
Each public boat ramp offers different launching conditions, depending on the water and tide levels. Take the time you need if you’re new to this. Once you become familiar with this particular ramp and its water levels, you’ll be able to launch your jet ski more quickly.
- Trailer your jet ski slowly down to the water until it begins to float.
- Unhook the winch strap along with the safety chain.
- Move your jet ski into the water.
- Put your vehicle in park and set the parking brake once your jet ski is in the water. This prevents the entire rig from going into the water.
- If you have a helper, it goes a lot faster because your helper can drive the tow vehicle while you deal with the jet ski.
You must be careful because boat ramps are wet and slippery and can even get icy when cold weather sets in. Algae growing on the ramp will make things even more slippery.
Take a look at this BoaterEXAM’s video so you can see the process in action:
Retrieving your jet ski and loading it back onto the trailer doesn’t have to be difficult as long as you use a little common sense:
- Slowly drive up to the ramp to let someone off so they can go get the towing vehicle and trailer.
- Back away from the ramp and wait for them to back the trailer into the water.
- Wait until the towing vehicle is in position at the ramp before you pull your jet ski up onto the ramp.
- Back up the trailer so the rollers and bunks are 2/3 submerged.
- Drive your jet ski onto the trailer just far enough that you can attach the winch hook into the bow eye.
- The winch can be used to finish the job of pulling the jet ski up to the bunks.
- Once friction is holding your jet ski in place on the trailer, you can shut off the engine.
- Move to the bow and attach your winch strap and safety chain.
- When that’s done, signal the driver to pull forward so you can clear the ramp.
If you are new to this, we recommend that you winch the jet ski by hand back onto the trailer. Once you have more experience launching and retrieving you can drive your jet ski directly onto the trailer, but you still have to be very careful when you’re doing this.
If you’re an experienced rider, you can get your jet ski into position as soon as your tow vehicle is approaching the boat ramp. When the trailer is submerged properly, you can idle your jet ski forward right onto the trailer by giving it a little nudge of power just to push it up the bunks.
Do not “power load” your jet ski on this way onto the trailer when the trailer is not in the water deep enough.
If you apply the throttle with enough force to pull the hull up the bunks, the thrust of the engine can easily erode the bottom. Doing this would definitely be against the rules and against protocol. You could also suck up all sorts of things from shallow waters, which would not be easy to remove!
If you are making it a habit to launch in shallow water, you might want to get a PWC trailer with rollers rather than bunks.
To make things easier for everyone, offer to help people you can clearly see are having problems. You can guide someone in or offer to pull the towing vehicle up if you notice someone trying to launch their boat or jet ski by themselves.
The sooner they get launched, the sooner you can too!
If you are doing this totally on your own and want the process to go as quickly as possible, there are some very helpful tricks in this guide:
Ask Permission Before Tying up to Another PWC
Boats and jet skis are very expensive so you would not want to scratch someone else’s vessel. It might seem like no big deal, so be polite and ask permission before you just tie up to some other boat when there isn’t any more dock space. He/she worked hard to pay for that PWC, so you need to show respect.
You may want to keep some inexpensive bumper buoys on hand in your storage. They can come in handy when you want to make sure nothing gets damaged on either boat. You can also use them to protect your jet ski in choppy water so it doesn’t bang into the dock.
Also, be polite by always asking permission before walking across a total stranger’s boat!
To keep your jet ski in good working order it needs to be regularly inspected. It would be best if you did this after every ride! You really should inspect it as often as possible throughout the season.
To thoroughly inspect your jet ski there are some very important steps you need to take, and they are all spelled out in this guide. For all the information you need about after-ride maintenance and care, please check it out!
Parking Lot Etiquette
There are certain protocols that should be followed in a public boat ramp parking lot as well. Drive slowly and look out for others, especially children.
If you’re going out for a few hours in the afternoon during the week and there are just a few trucks parked in the lot, give everyone some space. Do not park right alongside another truck. He/she wants to easily drive out when it’s time to retrieve his/her PWC. Don’t put him/her in a bind if you can help it.
It’s not easy backing up a trailer when you only have 6 inches to maneuver on one side. Be considerate of others and they will be considerate of you in return.
Practice Your Trailering Skills
Backing up with a boat trailer in tow requires some practice. You should not wait until your first foray out to a public boat ramp to begin learning this.
When driving the tow vehicle, you need to know how your trailer is going to respond when you’re going in reverse. You do not want to jackknife the trailer or back it up going the wrong direction. Find a large empty parking lot where you can practice all of this in peace. The marked lanes can be used to practice how to back your trailer up to the ramp, onto it and down to the water’s edge. You might even want to set up traffic cones if you have them.
Pay attention to how your trailer responds to your steering and what the turning radius is for the total length of the vehicle plus the trailer. Getting this all down before you head out to the boat ramp will result in much less stress when it’s time to launch. Remember, practice makes perfect!
When you’re approaching the launch area, make a wide swing and choose an open ramp. Drive far enough out front to clearly see the boat ramp in your mirrors. It should be straight behind you. Take it SLOW while backing up towards the ramp. Keep going until you see the trailer in the water and your jet ski floating. Have someone stand behind and to the side of your vehicle where you can clearly see them in your mirrors so they can direct you. This can be a huge help, especially for beginners.
If you are inexperienced, it would be a big help if you watched this video:
It hasn’t always been easy to find a public boat ramp close by, especially if you just moved to the area. You can always search “public boat ramps near me” on Google and see what comes up.
Otherwise, you can use the Public Boat Ramp Locator Tool for free. Aside from local boat ramps, you can also find nearby marinas.
It is important to know and follow all the rules, including local ones, and to follow the proper protocols when launching your jet ski. You also need to find the right PWC trailer and accessories so you can haul your jet ski around and launch it safely.
When it comes to recreational boaters and jet skiers, we would all benefit if everyone followed proper protocol as well as all the rules when launching and retrieving their vessel.
Nevertheless, you should never get angry at anyone if they really don’t know what they’re doing. Everyone just wants to have a safe fun day on the water, so be nice and offer a helping hand when you have the chance!
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