Thanks to modern technology you can register your boat and buy a fishing license from your phone. The internet and mobile technology has made the process quicker, faster and more efficient. But as my friend Alan asks, “Have we traded our patience in for convenience?”
After spending two Saturday mornings in a row helping anglers buy a fishing license online at a retail outlet I tend to agree with my buddy. The world is obsessed with faster and easier, but I’d argue backing a boat into the water requires just as much time and patience now as 30 years ago.
As we’ve seen the expansion of water across North Dakota since 1993, we’ve also seen the number of watercraft registrations swell. More water and more boats, pontoons and personal watercraft, in addition to kayaks, canoes and paddleboards can create congestion on any water. And not just during a hot summer holiday weekend.
And that’s why every year the North Dakota Game and Fish Department reminds boaters that patience and understanding are two key personal characteristics needed on any random trip to a boat ramp.
The reason is simple and I witnessed it many times early in my career when I was a game warden at Bottineau and spent a lot of time at Lake Metigoshe, one of the busier waters in the state. On any given day the lineup of boats waiting to get in or out of the lake could include veterans who could back up a trailer blindfolded, and others who were driven to high anxiety by the prospect of launching a boat for the first time.
While a little practice would never hurt anyone, the truth is it takes time and repetition from the boat backer and the rest of the boaters need more patience and understanding.
Here’s a few tips and considerations:
— Don’t pull onto the ramp until your boat is ready to launch.
— Prepare for launching in the parking area. Remove covers, load equipment, remove tie downs, attach lines and put in drain plug before backing onto the ramp.
— When ready, pull into line to launch. Wait your turn. Be courteous.
— It takes at least two people to efficiently and courteously launch a boat: one to handle the boat and one to take care of the tow vehicle.
— Offer to help others who look like they may be having trouble.
— Don’t block the loading area with your boat until your tow vehicle is ready to load. Wait until you are clear of the launch area to unload gear.
— As soon as your trailer is in the water, load and secure your boat to the trailer.
— Remove boat and trailer from the water as quickly as possible.
— Get clear of the ramp. Pull into the parking area to finish securing your boat, unloading gear, draining all water and inspecting for and removing any vegetation. Remember to leave plugs out when transporting boat.
While smartphones and the internet can also provide boat backing tips and videos, what they can’t replicate is a little patience for all those involved. Rather than getting frustrated and impatient, consider helping if needed as you all have the same goal of getting on and off the water quicker and faster.
Have a safe summer on the water.