View Full Version : Boat Owner Basic Training

04-26-2010, 03:53 PM
Ok, so I read the threads on boat ramp idiots as well as those who act like fools on the water. I bought my first boat last year because I always wanted one and to finally be on the water. I have since sold it and am (extremely anxiously) waiting to pick up my '03 Mobius LS. (They are repairing all imperfections in the gelcoat and buffing everything, putting a new swim pad on, etc.)

My question is, where should new boat owners who CARE about not being one of the idiots at a busy launch or out on the water go to learn the basic etiquette and technique. I feel like I have been pretty responsible and read a lot, watched things on youtube and had a longtime boater friend take me out one day to show me basics. But it seems these types of resources are kind of limited. I mean some things seem simple enough, but since noone is required to be taught proper technique, if you don't care enough yourself to not feel/look like a novice and seek out info, you can potentially be a pain to others around you. I want to avoid those for myself and for those I'm sharing the water with so I am always looking to make sure I'm doing things correctly. Things such as how to properly raft up with another boater (and etiquette involved), tying up to a dock when there are limited cleats, launching alone (again, and etiquette involved if you are alone), maneuvering in a crowded area, etc. I read on one thread where one guy here pulled in to pick his wife up on a crowded dock, reversed it, spun around on its axis basically and pulled away. Now, how the hell would I learn advanced stuff like that?!?! :eek:

I have done all of these things, but without swallowing a little pride and admitting to people that I had never done some of these things, I never would have learned. And for all I know, someone may have told me the wrong way to do something and I've ignorantly continued to do so.

So, long story short, where can one learn or brush up the basics of boating - operating, maintenance, etiquette?

Thanks and am very anxious to be another Moomba owner!!

04-26-2010, 04:02 PM
Like almost everything in life, there is a learning curve. If you want to practice stuff at the boat launch, a weekday is your best bet. Practicing on the weekends would automatically dump you into the "idiot" column. One thing to remember is never approach a dock at a speed greater than you are comfortable hitting the dock. IE, dont fly up to the dock and throw it in reverse.

Most nuances will come with time and most importantly just watch what you are doing. Try and take as little of time at the ramp as possible and try to get the majority of things loaded onto the boat before you get to the launch. As for rules of the road on the water, following the golden rule will generally steer you in the right direction.

Lastly, dont be afraid to mess up. I have been around boats (mainly saltwater fishing boats) my entire life. Within the first 2 weeks of owning my Moomba and first inboard boat, I launced the boat and forgot to take the back straps off. After about ten minutes of fooling with it I finally remembered the straps at the back.

04-26-2010, 04:02 PM
I've seen lists of DO's and DONT'S posted in other places. Most of them are dead on. It's mostly about being respectful of other people's time and their investment. But, I agree that you could write a book about this but most of us know instinctively anything you would say and those that don't would never read it.

you da man
04-26-2010, 04:03 PM
I come from an 18ft bass boat to my new XLV a few months ago and I still feel like a complete novice near the small courtesy dock at the ramp. When I pull up to the dock my boat takes up the entire length of it. I figured out yesterday that a modest tail wind makes approaching the dock much more challenging so from now on I'm keeping the bow upwind.

04-26-2010, 04:41 PM
This is something we did last year when we first bout our LSV. Get a rubber ball, we choose a football as we can toss it around in the water as well.

Just toss the ball out in the water, then practice driving up to it to grab it over the side. Its surprisingly difficult if you approach to fast, the boats wash will push it out of reach, to slow and the ball might float away. Other good thing is no danger if you hit it or run over it as it wont damage the boat and you can kill the power to not damage the ball.

Being able to use a dock or launching loading the boat is always best on the weekdays but even still you will have those days when you just cant get it right smoothly. Happens.

The best thing for getting comfortable with the boat is drive it.

1 last thing wheny ou approach a friendly boat you know, GO SLOW no Wake speed slow at least 100 ft before them.

My first time last summer with Jester, i saw him and rolled up to say hi to him and his crew, i didn't know any better and cut the power and turned to pull up next to him, the rollers hit him and he wasn't mad, but he wasn't happy LOL. His crew was thinking dam newby boater LOL. Since then i roll up on people very slowly lol.

I have docked our boat a ton, as im normally driving when we get to that point, a small wind or a jerk making rollers will drastically change the docking, just take your time and you will get it. I have learned to drive up and spin the tail of the boat around and everyone can jump on the swim deck, then i drive away. It just takes practice learning your boat. Just like driving your car.

04-26-2010, 04:55 PM
This is a really good question that so often goes unanswered. I'd like to take a stab at a Ramp Checklist. Hopefully, the other members will chime in and fill in where I missed important issues regarding launch ramp educate a making sure you launch a properly prepared boat. I'll break it into two sections; one, launching the boat, and two, retrieving the boat.

For me the number one issue around launch ramps is people who plop their boat into the water and for whatever reason, sit there and clog the ramp without regard to others who are either launching or trying to retrieve their boats. There are times when things just happen and it's unavoidable. However, most of the time you can get in and out of the ramp hassle free.

When arriving at the ramp area, first park in the designated area for preparing your boat to be launched. This is where you want to do ALL your pre-launch preparation. Do not pull your rig around and back down close to the water, then sit there removing your trailer straps, putting the plug in, making sure you have enough ice, etc.

In the launch prep area:
a) Remove trailer straps.
b) Put in the plug(s).
c) Keys in the ignition.
d) Dock lines and fenders should be out and accessible in the boat (if needed).
e) Load all items into the boat that you'll be taking with you (coolers, towels, skis, wakeboards, etc).
f) Once you have everything ready to go, when it is your turn, back the boat and trailer down into the water.
g) Start the engine BEFORE unhooking the bow strap from the trailer. I can't emphasise this enough. The last thing you want to do is have your boat floating off the trailer only to find your engine won't start or your battery is dead. If you leave the strap hooked up and the engine won't start, you can easily haul it right back out of the water and diagnose the problem up away from the launch ramp.
h) Engine is running so now unhook the bow strap (either lean over the bow and do it yourself or have the trailer driver do it.
i) Back the boat off the trailer then leave the launch area and stay clear until your trailer driver and passengers are all ready to board at the same time. If your ramp has a large enough dock to accommodate several boats, you can tie up and wait for your driver to return and board. My local area ramps are usually very crowded so I try to stay clear until I need to pick people up.
j) When you see your passengers on the dock, slowly move into position and pick them up. Don't be afraid to sit back and wait if it's really crowded. Let the other guy dig up his/her boat.
k) You're outta there! Go have some fun!!!

a) When you see a clearing at the dock, move in and drop off your trailer driver. Make sure he/she has the truck keys.
b) If it isn't too crowded, disembark any passengers that want to get off the boat also.
c) Pull out away from the launch area and stay clear until you see your trailer coming down the ramp.
d) Once your trailer is in position, drive up onto the it and secure the bow strap and tighten it all the way up to where you know it is fully on the trailer.
e) Before pulling the boat out, I like to attach two equal length bungee cords from the transom ski cleat to each of the upright trailer poles. This keeps the boat centred on trailer while it is being pulled out of the water.
f) The trailer driver should pull the boat completely out of the way of the launch ramp to the designated area for post retrieval.
g) Once parked, check the boat over to make sure it's on the trailer correctly, damage, etc.
h) Pull the plug(s).
i) Attach the trailer straps.
j) Stow any items in the boat so they don't blow out while driving home.
k) Wipe down the boat.
l) Head on home.

04-26-2010, 05:03 PM
Excellent post Markcr. Wish everyone could read this and ad-hear to it. We do everything on that checklist surprisingly so we arnt those guys at the ramp LOL.

Like the idea of the bungee cords on the guide poles never thought of that one.

04-26-2010, 05:19 PM
Nice! Thanks for that. Fortunately, out of common sense/courtesy I do pull into the parking area first and load everything, remove straps, etc prior to launch so I'm in and out in just a couple minutes. Drives me crazy when I pull in and as I'm loading my gear and prepping the boat, I see 2 or 3 other rigs pull in and proceed directly to the ramp to do all their pre-launch stuff down there just so they can basically cut line.

04-26-2010, 05:21 PM
mmandley - I like the football idea, I believe I will give that a shot on a weeknight. My last boat was a small I/O, so this is my first DD. I want to be a good driver so I will practice. Besides, whats so bad about going out on a calm, nice evening to just drive around on the lake??? Not so bad, if you ask me!

04-26-2010, 05:24 PM
I agree markcr....nice post!

I'm happy to say that we do all on the list (with exception of the bungee idea - brilliant) and it sure helps out with flow of traffic.

We start to pull down the bimini and stow items in the boat for travel while the driver retreives the trailer. We usually have some time floating away from the ramp to clean up a bit and that lessens the time needed at the retreival parking area. Then we have more time wiping down the boat and avoid spotting. I'm anal about that :)

04-26-2010, 05:39 PM
Glad to be able to give back to the community. You guys have been so helpful with lots of my questions. I'm sure I left out a lot of details but the basics are there. We too try and break down the bimini and start stowing stuff while waiting for the trailer to show up at the ramp.

04-26-2010, 08:45 PM
To turn around on axis you have to go counter clockwise, since with inboard engines in reverse it will turn to the R. Do basically if you just idle the engine it will but you boat slightly back and to the right and then you can sorta idle forward and to the L and just keep working the the throttle forward and back. If you are having trouble keeping your boat in the middle of the trailer as you pull out my guess is you probably have the trailer too deep in the water when loading. I would also practice buy throwing to objects into the water and practice coming up to them slow like you would the trailer. I see a ton of people that cant get there boat into the trailer straight. Basically if you can back your trailer up, load and unload you boat in a reasonable time, don't tube in the area I am wakeboarding, are are nice you will be my friend. Also don't beach your boat, it just makes me sad, buy an anchor and back it toward the beach.

04-26-2010, 09:36 PM
Only one word needed here, but use it often.

Practice Practice Practice.

I've been boating like many on this board since I was basically born. I was driving a 10ft speed boat on lake superior with a 40 when I was 13, even flipped it once because of a broken steering linkage, coast guard recovered the boat, but my buddy and I swan for it, in hinde sight very stupid, yes not wearing our life jackets.

The purpose of the above statement is that those who make this look easy have been doing it a long time and have made the mistakes or figured out the feel. If you have a schedule that allows get out mid week during the day, or if that doesn't work evenings, even if just for a short ride so that the load and unload become natural.

Oh yeah and if you have a wife make sure she is part of the process. My wife is actually better on and off the trailer than me, while I'm better than her on our lift, go figure.

04-26-2010, 11:52 PM

Regarding -

"Besides, whats so bad about going out on a calm, nice evening to just drive around on the lake??? Not so bad, if you ask me!"

This is great if there is no one trying to ski. But it is the evening cruisers that drive me the craziest. They think they are doing you a favor by going slowly and put up huge rollers. And they typically are going in a circle around the lake so they put roller up in every direction.

My point -if you are on a small lake or in a bay - if you see someone trying to get in a slalom run :
1. Remain stationery and enjoy the show while they are up, and if they crash - wait to see if they get in the boat or are getting back up.
2. Give them plenty of room, unless you going to introduce yourself - then wait till they are clearly done and approach them in a path parallel to the path they are pulling in. Slow down as you approach.
3. If there is a slalom course nearby - stay away unless you are waiting a turn. If you want to watch find a comfortable distance to the side and turn off your engine. Try to approach and leave in a parallel path.
4. If it looks like they are going to be running for a while, go over an introduce yourself during skier change - watch for loose rope - keep your distance but suggest that you take turns. Remain stationery while waiting your turn. Typically a turn is one skier 'down-and-back' if you have a long run, maybe two cycles if a short run; 4 passes in a slalom course - remember if they are skiing shortline they may drop at the end of a pass - but they are not done - they are just shortening the rope andn resting for a sec, maybe getting some instuctions. Just agree in advance what constitues 'a turn'. A fall does not end a turn.
5. You can agree to ski parallel paths at the same time if it can be done safely. If someone falls it can get a little messy.
6. When your skier falls don't do a huge high speed turn. Slow down to a safe turn speed (some people come to a near-stop), turn around and come back parallel to your original path. The speed of return is often a function of the conern for skier safety.
7. Don't drive all over the lake with your rope out. When your skier is done, someone in the boat should be pulling in the rope immediately.
8. When approaching the skier, always keep the skier and the ski completely in sight and keep the skier on the drivers side.
9. Be aware of your surroundings - If you are tooling around and see a ski boat with a skier standing on the back and everyone in the boat is watching you - they are probably waiting for you to sit down and your rollers to clear... If they are standing on the back tanning deck - they are definitely waiting for you.
10. Stay clear of docks and swin rafts - never go between a raft and a dock.

Well these are my personal preferences - and obviously if there is a lot of traffic, most of them won't be following these guidelines. But this is the type of behavior that will keep people from waving arms at you in frustration and thinking you are an idot.

Ok - well now I am ready to hit the water this weekend ...

04-27-2010, 08:44 AM
agree with most of the posts on this. it irritates the snot out of me to see people that aren't prepared to launch and waste a bunch of time. I have all the patience in the world for noobs(and they are very obvious) and will wait around while a guy tries to launch/retrieve, but I have no patience for an obvious experienced boater that is just inconsiderate. my goal is to spend as little time as possible at the actual launch. our routine is as follows:

-park in the loading area and load up all the boards, gear, food and remove all the straps but the front winch.
-load EVERYONE in the boat that is going except the one person designated as the backer.
-have EVERYONE sit in a seat, out of the way of the walkway to the bow and relax for the launch.
-once the rear of the boat hits the water, start it. I then go up and unhook the strap, have the backer drop and off we go.
-motor out 100yards or so from the launch area and now everyone is free to move about, open drinks, sunscreen up, start the tunes, whatever..
-once the driver has parked the truck, I'll come around and pick them up at the end of the dock, having them climb up in the bow.

just the opposite when unloading. keep everyone in the boat until up into the loading area and then everyone gets off and clean her up and home..

me and my crew have gotten this down pat and seems to really minimize the time spent actually at the ramp, which is the ultimate goal...

the few times I have been out working with a noob on any kind of launching/retrieving, we will always bob around waiting for the best time at the ramp. usually if you see a line of boats, 15 minutes later it's much more calm and a more opportune time.