by Mike Gerry
Every year as we get prepared for spring break, many of the new boaters start out on their first endeavor to launch their boat for the first time. With that big event, the horror of holidays past start appearing in my thoughts.
Holidays seem to bring out all sorts of problems. As the excited, new boaters approach their first outing something occasionally happens on the water that makes me think may have been avoided with just a little bit of thought and safety.
A few short years ago, carelessness and lack of preparation was painfully evident as I watched from my back deck, a truck got backed too far into the water as someone was trying to launch their pontoon boat. Yes, it was a bad day for some poor gentleman; he failed to un-strap the back of his boat. His truck was backed up too far and the pontoon boat lifted the rear end of the truck up.
Well, from there you can imagine the rest; the truck slid into the water with no rear wheel traction as the boat lifted the rear wheels and before he could react, the truck was covered to the top in water.
All this pain could have been avoided with just a little preparation before pulling up into the boat ramp.
Do not pull into the ramp back halfway down and start to prepare your boat for launch. Trust me, you will feel the pressure of the other boats in line waiting to launch, and you will make a mistake. Hard to do? Maybe, careless for sure, but it could have been prevented with just a little safety check before the boat was backed into the water.
I cannot tell you how many times, in as many years, that someone gets in the launch position feels the pressure and fails to pay attention to the little things. Believe me this is just one of the many things that can go wrong.
First, never let anyone do your pre-launch safety checks for you; develop a routine of walking around the boat yourself away from the ramp and checking for the proper safety items: Is the plug in? Are the straps removed? Is the bow unhooked and the boat ready to be launched? Perhaps most important, this is, I believe, what drives some of the many mistakes – do not get in a hurry!