Having spent a lot of my life around fresh and saltwater boat ramps, I’ve never gotten used to the cussin’, the spittin’, and the fightin’ that oftentimes comes with getting a boat off of the trailer and in the water. Most of the frustration seems to come from a little organization and familial team play. I admit that when I was doing all the running around my attitude needed an adjustment.
The first order of business to tend to is to check the liquids. I do that when I pull into a gas station on my way to the ramp. There I’ll fill the gas tank, add oil to the outboard, and top off the hubs with a grease gun. When the fluids are all squared up, we’ll head to the harbor and park to the side of the launch line. That’s where the kids come in to play.
My daughter loves knots, so I have her slip the bow and stern line loops over the cleats and coil on the decks. After they are secured she’ll add the bow and stern fenders to the cleats with a Figure 8 knot. When she’s done she’ll grab the tackle boxes, towels, and sunscreen and stow them in the hatch.
Meanwhile, her mechanically-minded brother puts the three drain plugs in the boat. He’s also responsible for raising the motor so as to remove the outboard support bracket. After that he’ll trim the motor halfway down. He’ll set the rods in the holders, the cooler in the stern, and the wakeboards for a post-fishing slalom.
My job is to back the trailer down the ramp and to remove the chain and strap for an easy launch. My wife lowers the outboard into the water, primes the gas pump, and starts the engine. She’ll back off the trailer and putt around the harbor while I park the truck. When I walk down the dock finger she picks me up and we’re off.
We make a game out of the experience and time each launch. So far we’re at 4 minutes and 37 seconds. We’re in and out so fast that no one complains. Get done with the cussin’ and get on with the fishin’.
Tom Keer is a freelance writer who lives on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. He regularly writes for over a dozen magazines, and is the contributing editor of Fly Rod and Reel and Fly Fish America and a columnist for The Upland Almanac. His book a “Flyfisher’s Guide to the New England Coast” was published by Wilderness Adventures Press in 2010. Visit him at www.tomkeer.com.