Conroe Courier/ August 27, 2013/ Boating, News

I do not know where this year is going, but it appears to have been passing me by at an alarming rate of speed. It seems like schools were just getting out for the summer and my grandson was mowing my grass every week — for a substantial fee, I might add. Now, children are all back at school again and Labor Day is here this weekend.

The holiday is upon us and many will be participating in a last big hoorah for the summer by enjoying all of the water sports offered by our beloved Lake Conroe, so I thought I would touch on etiquette and manners at boat launches. I know that in the 21st century, mankind has little or no concept of etiquette and manners, but there are still a larger number of people who not only know the meaning of the words but practice them daily.

Impolite, self-centered behavior could well describe a kindergarten sandbox at recess, but it also fits the description of the mayhem that can be seen at some boat launches on this holiday weekend. The following are five launch ramp etiquette rules that can make the task go a lot easier and faster for all.

Be communicative

The most surefire way to cause ramp snafus is to be silent with your guests. Speak up and let them know they should avoid parking in spaces reserved for trailers and tow vehicles. Tell them how you will load and unload — more on that in a second. Before your return to the launch ramp dock, let your crew know what they can do to help. And for one more friendly tip: don’t yell.

Know where to load and unload

If in doubt about where to go once you get there, call the boat launch or marina prior to leaving home and ask. Those in charge want you to be as efficient and knowledgeable as possible so everyone will be happy. Unloading your gear at the bottom of the boat launch ramp, which could have been accomplished while waiting in line at the top of the boat ramp, shows a lack of courtesy. It also is an all-too-common mistake boaters make when launching and one of the biggest causes of delays. Plan ahead. Put a checklist on your sun visor.

Don’t be a hog

Tying up your boat at the launch dock right next to the ramp and then going to park the tow vehicle means the next person in line can’t launch until you get back. Save everyone time by immediately moving your boat to the far end of the dock so there’s room for the next person to launch or retrieve.

Don’t delay

Not launching the boat immediately when it’s off the trailer and, instead, waiting for the crew to return from the bathrooms again adds delays and simmers tempers. This is true at the gas dock, too. Tie up at the dock, refuel the boat and leave as quickly and safely as possible. Don’t keep others waiting to refuel because your crew has walked to a nearby restaurant — that earns you a serious delay-of-launch breach of manners.

Lend a hand

If someone needs one at the launch, give it to them. We all need help from time to time. Be kind to your boating neighbor and make everyone’s day a little better.

These listed items will make everyone’s launching experience much more pleasurable and definitely expedite your own start to frolicking and fun on the lake.

So much for boat launch etiquette and manners, so let us move on to one of the heights of disrespect and exploitation of other people’s property. That would be launching your boat at a private launch where you have no right to be and the potential consequences for such actions.

There are many waterfront communities on Lake Conroe that are not gated that have private boat launches, park areas and parking facilities for their homeowners that have been built by the homeowners association for the residents’ use and enjoyment. Unless you are a guest of a resident with proper written documentation kept in plain sight on your vehicle, you are trespassing.

It is not uncommon that usurpers of such homeowners’ property abuse the homeowners’ facilities by throwing trash all over the launch and park areas, are loud, alcohol soaked and obnoxious, with radios blaring, and park on and block streets.

To such usurpers, let me offer this tidbit of information: if a homeowners association so desires, they can have your vehicles — trucks, trailers and any of your guest’s undocumented mode of transportation — towed and impounded, leaving the usurpers on foot and facing a substantial towing fee in order to get the wheels out of hock on the next day of business.

So, before you go down that road, be advised that most homeowners associations have now posted all of the necessary and legal signage that lets those who do not belong know what towing company has their property and the phone number that can be called to claim said property at the start of the next business day.


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