Lake Havasu Homes for Sale

Launch Ramp Etiquette

Understanding proper boat ramp procedures and etiquette can improve safety and can substantially reduce launching and loading times. If you have just got a boat loan from somewhere like and bought a boat, it’s vital that you learn the boat inside out before taking it on the sea. Don’t be the boater who causes delays for everyone else also waiting to use the ramp. This set of guidelines will give you a solid foundation for doing it the right way.

Boat ramp etiquette starts before you even reach the ramp. Try to load all of your gear into the boat before leaving your driveway. However, I know this isn’t always possible in all circumstances. Whatever the case, those last minute items and completing your prep list needs to be done before proceeding on to the launch lane. Most ramps have a launch lane and a boat prep lane. The prep lane is for those who have just arrived and need to get their boat “prepared” for launch. If your ramp doesn’t have a prep lane, use the parking lot. Better yet, load your gear into the boat prior to leaving your home. Only when you’re sure the boat is fully prepared to launch, should you proceed into the launch lane, and then to the ramp itself.

Your Boat Preparation List
Every boat will have a unique boat prep list and functions. In any case prepping your boat for launch should be a routine system done exactly the same way each and every time. By following a system, you’ll reduce the chances of forgetting something. Also if you’re a new boater, using a checklist really isn’t a bad idea. Prep your boat from back to front, or if you prefer, front-to-back. In either case, the logic of working methodically from one end of the boat to the other helps avoid missing something due to hopping around from one thing to another.

Entering the Launch Lane
Once you have completed your boat prep, it’s time to enter the launch lane. Other than the rare occasion of having the whole lake to your-self, there will be other boaters also waiting their turn in line. Stay in line and do not cut in front of those who are ahead of you. Be courteous and use common sense. If someone in front of you appears to have a problem or is causing delays, ask before proceeding around them. Communication is critical in avoiding any flaring tempers!

Backing Down the Ramp & Unloading the Boat

Ok, you’re next in line and the ramp is now open for launch. Pull forward and slowly and carefully back down the ramp. Depending on your situation, there are different variations for launching. If you’re alone, you’ll need to attach a dock line from your boat to the trailer or your tow vehicle to prevent it from drifting away. If you have help, now is the time to give those dock lines to those who are helping, or you might have someone already in the boat who will power launch your boat for you. In any case, know how you are going to launch your boat and have everything in place before putting your boat in the water. Once your boat is free from the trailer you should promptly move it to a nearby courtesy dock, or the outside of the launching dock(s). Having your boat tied up in the launching or loading lanes while you park your tow vehicle may cause delays for other boaters who also want to use the boat ramp. The boat ramp isn’t the place to practice backing, if you are not comfortable with backing your boat down the ramp, then you really shouldn’t. Take your boat somewhere to practice like a supermarket or shopping mall. Go off into one of the barren corners and practice until you feel comfortable with how your tow vehicle and boat trailer react. During low-light times (very early morning or at night) extinguish your headlights and only use running lights when utilizing the ramp. The glare from your headlights can blind others as they back their boats down the ramp.


At the end of the day, most boat docks are crowded with boaters ready to head home. Again, courtesy and etiquette will avoid a possible confrontation with a hot and exhausted boater. Many guidelines for loading are the same or similar to launching.

If the dock you are at has solar dock lights use these to light your path as it can be difficult to get your bearings in the dark. Don’t approach the launch/load area until your trailer is in the water and you are actually ready to load your boat. If you need to drop off someone who will get your tow vehicle, or need to tie up to get it yourself use a courtesy dock or the outside lane of the launch/load dock. Again, parking your boat in the launch/loading area only causes delays for others who are using the facility. Before heading to the docks stow all your gear and pick up trash. Take a moment to make your boat “ship-shape” before heading back to land.

Wait for your turn in the launch/load lane. Just because you’re ready to load your boat doesn’t give you the right to jump in front of others waiting in line. As with launching, stay in line and do not cut in front of those ahead of you. Be courteous and use common sense. If someone in front of you appears to have a problem, or is causing delays ask before proceeding around them.

As before, pull forward and slowly and carefully back down the ramp. Make sure your trailer is in deep enough to allow the guides/bunks to properly align your boat on the trailer. Too deep and your hull won’t touch the guides – too shallow and your boat will get stuck before it gets all the way on the trailer. Set your parking brake on your tow vehicle when you have your trailer submerged and are ready to load. Be aware of slick ramp conditions! 2-wheel drive, rear wheel powered vehicles should be cautious about backing too far down into the water. If you have 4-wheel drive and know the ramp is slick go ahead and lock it in. Remember to extinguish those headlights and use parking light during low-light conditions.

Loading your boat onto the trailer shouldn’t take more than a few minutes under normal conditions. Remember to trim your motor up to avoid damage the lower unit. As you pull forward, carefully line up your boat with the trailer. You don’t have to be perfect, but close enough for the guides to help align the hull of the boat as it glides onto the trailer. Excessive speed isn’t necessary; you just want enough momentum to slide the boat onto the trailer. A little throttle may be necessary to push the boat up the last few feet or inches. Or, if you’re not comfortable with using the throttle your trailer winch can pull the boat up the last bit of the trailer. Once your boat is fully on the trailer check both sides to make sure it is aligned and square on the trailer. If you haven’t already done so, use the winch to tighten the boat against the bow stop. Once secure, attach the safety chain. At this point you can cut power to the motor and trim the motor up to trailering position. You are now ready to pull up the ramp. After loading your boat a few times, you’ll find exactly how far to submerge the trailer and how much power is necessary to load.

Make certain your motor is turned off and trimmed up before proceeding up ramp! Slowly pull forward and make certain the boat is settled squarely onto the trailer. Control your tow vehicles throttle so that you quickly clear the ramp without spinning your tires on the way up the ramp.

Be sure to completely leave the ramp area before stopping. As with launch prep, have a system in place to make sure everything is put away and your boat is ready for the drive home. Work from front-to-back or back-to-front and re-connect your tie-down straps, motor support, trailer wiring and kill main power to the boat.

Following these guidelines and remembering to act with common sense and courtesy will allow both you and the other boaters many enjoyable and memorial days shared on the water.
Be safe, be courteous and happy boating!

Lake Havasu City Public Launch Ramps

There are three main public boat launch ramps in Lake Havasu City Arizona.

Lake Havasu Marina
Located on the Island in
Lake Havasu City, Arizona.
(928) 855-2159
$10 a day, $15 weekends & holidays

Lake Havasu State Park
Located at Windsor Beach,
2 miles North of the London Bridge.
(928) 855-2784

Site Six Launch Ramp
On the Island ~ 591 Beachcomber Blvd.
(928) 453-8686

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