Merwin: Tales From The Boat Ramp

boat ramp

So spring is here, and with it comes the boat-ramp follies. Those who trailer a fishing boat will know immediately what I mean. There are days when it seems that all the inept, hapless people in the world are concentrated at your favorite boat-launching spot. That's where trailer-rigs are jackknifed on slippery ramps, pickup trucks slide or roll backward into the water, and where some thoughtless guy--having positioned his boat on the ramp--spends the next half hour getting it ready to launch while 15 other rigs wait in line, drivers grinding their teeth.

Busy boat ramps are high-stress places. Novices at trailer-boating approach the ramp in abject fear, knowing they are likely to screw up in front of a large audience when trying to back the trailer into the ramp's narrow confines. That fear portends other disasters like forgetting to fasten a bow line and watching your newly launched boat drift on its own out into the harbor. Or forgetting to install the boat's drain plug, which means the boat starts filling with water as it slides off the trailer. I have done most of these things and worse, but fortunately not more than once.

Everybody is a novice at boat-launching at one time or another. We all were. So be patient. If you see somebody having a difficult time, offer to help instead of simply getting mad because you have to wait. Years back when I first started all this, I had strangers help out when I was having difficulty backing up, for example. The help was a good thing, and eventually I learned how. Meanwhile, approach the boat ramp with a sense of humor, and you'll find plenty to laugh at....