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Paddling Etiquette Around Boat Ramps

Power boats and larger sail boats need ramps or designated areas for launching and landing. Paddlers on the other hand, have the luxury of being able to put in and take out on beaches, banks, or almost anywhere that the shoreline is accessible by foot. This certainly does not mean that ramps are off-limits to paddlers, but it does mean that paddlers should be considerate of bigger boats and work cooperatively with them so that everyone can efficiently and safely launch and land.

With that being said, here are a few important points to consider:

Minimize Time on the Ramp

First off it needs to be understood that the ramp should only be used when you're ready to launch or land. Any packing, setting up or gearing up should be done away from the ramp where other boat traffic won't be impeded. In some cases it'll be easier to walk your ready-to-go boats or board down or up the ramp, while on other times, you may choose to bring your vehicle down the ramp to load or unload your boat. Either way, all preparations need to be done away from the ramp in order to minimize the time spent there.

Be Aware of Your Size

Also remember how small you and your paddle craft are compared to the other boats. You can't assume other vehicles and boats see you or even know that you're there, this is why it's a good idea to stay well to one side of a ramp or, on busy days, make the decision to find a quieter spot to launch.

Avoid Paddling in the Loading Zone

Once on the water you need to move out of the immediate launching area as soon as possible. If you're waiting for others, move well off to the side to do so and then when everyone is ready, paddle away from the loading zone as a tight group that makes it easy for other boat traffic to see and avoid you. Make sure to avoid paddling behind bigger boats or anywhere where you're not highly visible to them. A hard-to-see paddler can really get hurt if they're in the wrong place.

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