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Thread: Boat launch line etiquette

  1. #1

    Default Boat launch line etiquette

    Thinking specifically about Whittier, but would apply anywhere. I always have some last minute prep to do on my boat before launching such as putting out fenders, putting on dock lines, etc., so I'm always getting into the ready line for this. If someone drives in from the tunnel and is all ready to launch, then what's the proper thing for him to do? Stop and ask the person in front of the ready line if he minds if he goes on ahead and launches? If the guy at the front of the ready area says ok, then is it ok for the guy who just drove up to launch his boat if others in line behind the first guy in line are ready and waiting their turn? If I'm in line and am ready to launch and the person(s) in front of me are still getting ready, I'll ask them if they mind if I go ahead and that seems to work out fine. But I'm specifically wondering about the situation where someone passes up the ready line and heads directly to the launch ramp.

  2. #2

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    I'd say you should not be in line if you are not ready. Get ready in the lot, then get in line.
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  3. #3
    Moderator Daveinthebush's Avatar
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    You should NOT be in line unless you are ready to launch and leave the dock. People not from Valdez do this all the time. They back the boat in, your ready, and then they forget the bait, wife, lunch, their brains......... Then they hold everything up. Boats are stacked waiting to put in and take out.

    1. Well I haven't started the motor since last year.

    2. I know the plug is here somewhere!

    3. It is just going to be a minute, we forgot the bait.

    4. Wife went to get lunch.

    5. I have to poop before we can go.

    6. Fishing license, I need a fishing license on the ocean?

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    Moderator LuJon's Avatar
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    As a pretty new boater I was most nervous about the launch and retrieve. I am always ready to roll before I get in line. Much less stress getting everything in order in the lot so I make less mistakes. I should really laminate a "preflight" checklist to run through but I have gotten pretty good now. I will say being prepared does escalate my annoyance when people do things like try and launch with their stern still strapped to the trailer! In the end it is all supposed to be fun so I have taken up people watching at the launch. It's like a live reality show!! I can't wait to get my quick steering rack this spring, should improve my aim on loading, been a few trip since I ran up on one of my trailer side rails trying to load up in a hurry but can't say it's never happened!

  5. #5
    Member Dan in Alaska's Avatar
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    I try to get the boat ready to go while I'm waiting for the tunnel to open. By the time I get to the ramp, I'm pretty well ready to launch, except for the safety chain, which I usually disconnect at the water line. I am pretty fortunate, though. I have a regular crew of friends that have been through this many, many times; we all know the procedure well, and it doesn't take us long at the ramp, whether we're launching or retrieving.

    Communicating with the other boaters in line has been effective for me. If they know we're ready to go, they'll usually say it's okay for me to launch ahead of them. If not, we just wait. A few minutes of waiting will not ruin my day.





    I find more difficulty getting the timing right on the retrieve, though. A line of boats forms in the limited real estate offered at docks and, due to the inconvenience of Whittier's parking, the trucks don't necessarily show up in the same order that the boats are staged. The haphazard jockeying for position at the dock is where I see the most trouble occur. The boats can be awkward to maneuver in tight spaces, especially when there is some breeze, so having extra people on the docks that are willing to lend a hand can be a big help.

  6. #6
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    There's plenty of opportunity for folks to be jerks at Whittier, and there can be no hard and fast rules. Here's my take:

    It goes without saying that if you are still plugging holes or setting fenders and you're one or two spots away from launching, you're wrong. However, any more than 2-3 rigs back, you should still be okay setting lines and plugging holes so long as you're keeping your place in line. The staging lane can fit what, 15 rigs or more? Bullscat on not being able to prep when you're more than 2-3 rigs away from launching.

    From the front of the staging line, you can seldom see which lanes are busy. At this point, far more problems are caused by drivers/passengers who are too lazy/fat to go down to the ramp and look at things, than any last minute loading activity. If you're two rigs back, your helper signals that a lane opens, and the rigs in front aren't ready, simply pass them by. It ain't the end of the world, and they'll get over it.

    If the ramp is busy, the guy at the front of the staging line should move his rig into no-mans-land between the two launching lanes so that he can back down immediately to launch as soon as one lane clears. Unless, of course, you haven't taken the time to be proficient at backing and you absolutely have to line up arrow-straight above your ramp.

  7. #7
    Member Dan in Alaska's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daveinthebush View Post
    1. Well I haven't started the motor since last year.

    2. I know the plug is here somewhere!

    3. It is just going to be a minute, we forgot the bait.

    4. Wife went to get lunch.

    5. I have to poop before we can go.

    6. Fishing license, I need a fishing license on the ocean?
    On the retrieve it can be even worse.....the trip isn't "over" until the boat is out of the water. I don't like it when folks tie up at the dock and then hit the bathroom, grab a cup of coffee, and retell every detail of their trip to a dozen people before getting their truck. There will be plenty of time for that AFTER your boat is on the trailer and out of the way.

    The wait at the Valdez ramp can be pretty long, especially on Labor Day Weekend. LOTS of people, and only ONE ramp.

    The Whittier tunnel adds another stress to the boat launch experience, though. Everyone wants to race to make the tunnel. I'm guilty of this myself, but I'm not going to kill myself (or anyone else) if we get held up until the next tunnel opening. Life is too short!

    Seward has great launch facilities (at high tide, anyway)! There's convenient parking and multiple ramps at multiple locations. And, it's CHEAP!

    I haven't been to Homer in a while, but I remember their ramps & docks being pretty good. One of my goals is to spend some time in Homer this summer.

  8. #8
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    i wait until the tunnel surge is done and then launch. it would be cool if the cone indicators for launch-retrieve were more visible to arriving boaters. it kind of sucks when i am backing down the ramp and guy pulls up in his boat to the launch side. cliff side marina was a waste. come on road to shotgun cove.

  9. #9
    Member Bob the fisher's Avatar
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    Well, I guess you just have to be polite, be ready and be patient... I know its hard to do but we gotta do it. On the other hand, if I'm ready and the first guy in lines waves me by, my boat is going in the water. Also, are they putting in a launch at the end of the new road to shotgun cove? I haven't heard. That would relieve some congestion at the small boat launch and I wonder what the prices will be? When is the road supposed to be done?... thanx.. "fishon"


    Quote Originally Posted by 27 sportfisher View Post
    i wait until the tunnel surge is done and then launch. it would be cool if the cone indicators for launch-retrieve were more visible to arriving boaters. it kind of sucks when i am backing down the ramp and guy pulls up in his boat to the launch side. cliff side marina was a waste. come on road to shotgun cove.
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    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    To me the key to enjoying whittier is to schedule my trips so I don't launch on Saturdays or holidays, and don't retrieve on Sundays or holidays.

    I try to do must prep while waiting for the tunnel to open, and it really only takes a minute to put out the fenders and lines. My kids have done enough launch/retrieves that it goes pretty smoothly, as soon as the boat is free from the trailer they are moving it down the dock to tie it off and I'm driving up the ramp to hit the parking lot.
    Those that are successful in Alaska are those who are flexible, and allow the reality of life in Alaska to shape their dreams, vs. trying to force their dreams on the reality of Alaska.

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  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by 27 sportfisher View Post
    i wait until the tunnel surge is done and then launch. it would be cool if the cone indicators for launch-retrieve were more visible to arriving boaters. it kind of sucks when i am backing down the ramp and guy pulls up in his boat to the launch side. cliff side marina was a waste. come on road to shotgun cove.
    Agree about the cones. Why don't they just paint one side of them green and the other side red? If you see green, then you know you can go that way and if you see red then you know you don't go that way.

  12. #12
    Member Frostbitten's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skydiver View Post
    Agree about the cones. Why don't they just paint one side of them green and the other side red? If you see green, then you know you can go that way and if you see red then you know you don't go that way.
    I agree. Last year they had the words "In" and "Out" on the cones. The problem is, depending on your point of view "Out" can be construed as launching (heading "out") or recovering (pulling the boat "out" of the water). Same for "In", could be putting the boat "in" the water, or heading "in" to the dock. I'm sure they had good intentions, but it just doesn't work that well.

    I will say that last year on the busy weekends such as Memorial Day, they had dock attendants out there as well as someone directing traffic on the ramp. Very efficient and coordinated compared to the cluster **** you usually see.

    Now if they would just keep the seiners from tying up there and blocking off two lanes!!

  13. #13

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    I like to be personable and offer help if needed; Like go down and look at the ramp and give a report to someone in front of me, help move a boat, etc. I have seen an old man, pants soaking wet, working on a heart attack, yelling at a bucket-loader driver trying to help retrieve his yacht, to a young woman sitting on piles of dry bags eating an apple next to her kayak in the middle of the ramp, and all types in between. Some people just won't get it, no matter what their experience.

    I recommend limiting trips to Whittier, go to other ports like Seward and Homer. If you go to Whittier more than twice a summer, prepare yourself mentally to deal with adults with toys acting annoying.

    Crazy to think of the behavior and money around a boat ramp!

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by Frostbitten View Post
    I agree. Last year they had the words "In" and "Out" on the cones. The problem is, depending on your point of view "Out" can be construed as launching (heading "out") or recovering (pulling the boat "out" of the water). Same for "In", could be putting the boat "in" the water, or heading "in" to the dock. I'm sure they had good intentions, but it just doesn't work that well.

    I will say that last year on the busy weekends such as Memorial Day, they had dock attendants out there as well as someone directing traffic on the ramp. Very efficient and coordinated compared to the cluster **** you usually see.

    Now if they would just keep the seiners from tying up there and blocking off two lanes!!
    You nailed it!

  15. #15
    Member JR2's Avatar
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    I just avoid the Friday launches and Sunday pulls. Nice to show up Wed Am and have one other boat waiting in line.. then pull Monday afternoon with less crowds.

    I have to say last Summer I pulled out on a Sunday and from the time I entered the Harbor until the time I hit the tunnel was 3 hours. *********s abounded, my wife got yelled at by one guy. Then people launching in the pull out side. Ugh, I said never again. I would rather spend the night in the harbor in transient than do that again.

    As for waiting in line, when I pull up I am 90% ready to go. I usually have enough time waiting for the tunnel to get the bumpers out, pull the wide load sign and all that. I just need 5 minutes to double check everything and get the ropes on the right side of the boat. After that if there is an open ramp and no one is making any motions towards it I am going for it. I usually walk over to the ramps and take a look, talk to the attendant and tell them I am ready.

    Biggest advice I can give anyone is to remember that boating is supposed to be fun. If I have to wait for a while or get cut off in line I just blow it off, not worth the heartburn to get excited about it. It will all be better once I get on the water.
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  16. #16
    Member Grizzly Man's Avatar
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    Since this is the launch line thread, I'll say MOST of the people have been pretty good about lining up. Every once in a while someone will come in from the tunnel and bypass the line because he is ready. Well, most others in the front of the line are too, they're just waiting for the ramp to free up.

    It's the coming back part that really gets to me. Everyone comes screaming in a the last minute and tries to make the tunnel out.
    "What is it about a beautiful sunny afternoon, with the birds singing and the wind rustling through the leaves, that makes you want to get drunk? --Jack Handy

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    Member Ak Bird Brain's Avatar
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    Just remember to breath deep and give the idiots a wide birth! Its supposed to be fun. Plenty of time while waiting for the tunnel to open to get your boat in order. Once you make it through the tunnel your on a mini vacation dont rush it, and be prepared to take the time to get in the water and out of the way so more folks can get in. It does help if you can schedule your arrival off peak hours.
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    Teach a man to fish and he'll also learn to drink, lie, and avoid the honey do list.

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    I admit I have never launched there, but I can't imagine going through that just to get on the water. If the Salcha river launch gets my blood boiling, I should probably avoid Whittier at all costs. Is there not room for another ramp or what?

  19. #19
    Member pacific23's Avatar
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    Last time I was there this ramp was available ....
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    Member pacific23's Avatar
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    here is the ramp...
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