What's Biting Report: Boating is Fun for All When Everyone Follows Rules and Laws

We all have felt angst, frustration and witnessed inconsiderate people. We have shaken our heads at those who are totally oblivious to others around them. We have seen the husband yell at the wife and vice versa. We've seen property damage and confrontations. If you are a boater, you have seen all of this and then some at the local boat launch. But all of this is easily avoidable by respecting other boaters and just extending a little common courtesy.

Launching and retrieving your boat can be a very smooth process if everyone just follows a few basic guidelines. "Do all of your preparation work either at your house, condo, or staging area," says Phillip West, Coastal Resources Manager for the City of Orange Beach. Coolers, chairs, fishing rods, and anything else should be in the boat prior to starting down the ramp. Remove tie down straps, prime the bulb and make sure the engine will crank. Ready dock lines, and double check that the plug is in the boat. "When boaters do these things on the ramp, it slows down the process for everyone, and that is when other boaters start to get upset,” said West. Boat US just wrote a great piece on this a few months back.

While there are guidelines for launching your boat at one of the area's boat launches, there are also rules and laws that are strictly enforced, especially during the prime boating season. "Our boat launches are not parking lots for empty trailers," said Chris Denson with the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, who oversees state run boat launches. Leaving your trailer at the launch while you keep your boat in the water at a condo or house will result in your trailer being towed, and you being fined. Parking violations are always an issue at any boat launch. One of the biggest problems is people using spots clearly designated for “vehicles with trailers” for vehicles only. These extra long spots are to be used only for trailers attached to cars or trucks. Denson says it is also very important that these spots are used properly. "Boaters need to make sure they pull all the way forward in these spaces and trailers are within the lines of the parking spot." Having a trailer stick out over the lines leads to other spots not being able to be used or another trailer being blocked in when the owner is ready to leave.

Clearly posted rules at the launches are in place for safety and traffic flow. "There is no fishing from the docks, which includes throwing a cast net," said Denson. “The boat launch is not the place to try to catch live bait. It's not only a safety issue, but it also slows down the in and out process.” Cleaning fish and discarding fish carcasses at state operated launches are also violations that can lead to a ticket and fine. For those less experienced at using a public boat launch, keep in mind every other boater has been in the exact situation at some point in their boating career. If you ever feel a little overwhelmed or are in a situation where you are uncomfortable, a helpful hand is always nearby. Boaters are a friendly group; don't be afraid to ask someone for help. Asking for a little help will ensure you have a better boating experience as well as those around you.

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Jim Cox
Jim Cox (1323 Posts)
Jim Cox is an avid inshore, offshore, and big game fisherman. He has twice qualified for the prestigious IGFA Offshore Championships in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. He is the past president of the Mobile…