Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Don’t Do What I Did

February 1, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

ramp 1

Few boaters (if any) will say that the boat ramp is their favorite part of boating — especially on those days when the scene at the ramp is complete chaos. Tempers flare as people yell at each other over who is taking too long and who is cutting in line. If you are new at backing down the ramp or feel rushed, your nerves will be on edge. Which doesn’t help anything at all.

I’ll admit to being nervous most of the time when I use the ramp for my jet ski even though I have five years of experience. I’m not rattled because I lack the skills to get the jet ski into the water — that I can do — but the people nearby who also have to use the ramp make me jumpy. I know I’m generalizing, but New Yorkers tend to be impatient and speak their minds (especially when they are running out of water as the tide goes out).

Knowing how little patience busy boaters can have for inexperienced people, I’d try to get my personal watercraft (PWC) back on the trailer by simply driving up onto it. The method worked easily enough at high tide when the trailer was submerged in the water. But at low tide, my anxiety to get out of the water resulted in a few dents and marks to the front of the jet ski as I floored it far too fast (I keep my PWC in pristine condition, cleaning and waxing it weekly, so I cringe when I see the reminders of my mistake).

Now, the only times I’ll launch the jet ski by myself is during the week or when there is no one else using the ramp. When there is a line in the parking lot of boaters waiting to launch, I enlist my dad’s help. I also call on him if there’s a crowd waiting to go back up the ramp at the end of the day. (To ensure that my dad is around to help with retrieval, I usually follow my parent’s boat to their dock slip and then wait for him to tell me when to go over to the ramp.)

I’ll never make the mistake again of tying up to the floating dock at the ramp — I learned that lesson the hard way! While waiting for dad to come around with my trailer, I sat on my jet ski, not getting up. You can imagine what people behind me were saying: “Are you getting out or not?” “Why are you not moving?” I was very uneasy being there, even though I swear it only took my dad about two minutes to arrive.

Adding to my tension was the fact that my personal watercraft is much smaller than most of the vessels at the ramp. Size can matter if you’re already edgy and uneasy.

I’ve learned my lessons, and though I am always trying to improve, I’d prefer not to be the object of anyone’s ire at the ramp. I plan my solo days of fun on the water on off times and around high tide. I’ll be more careful and go slower, but it sure would be great if everyone using boat ramps were kinder to each other.

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