RAMP RAGE: The Ita Buttrose of boating, Andrew Gale, has top tips for keeping fellow boaters happy on and off the water.
RAMP RAGE: The Ita Buttrose of boating, Andrew Gale, has top tips for keeping fellow boaters happy on and off the water. Madolyn Peters

A go-to-guide on ramp etiquette

I WANT to have a little chat about boat ramp etiquette.

I sometimes like to also refer to this practice as the art of not becoming a victim of "boat ramp rage".

Etiquette is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as "the customary code of polite behaviour in society or among members of a particular profession or group".

If you play golf, you probably know all about etiquette. Things like not talking when other people are playing shots, not walking on someone else's putting line. Calling faster players through if you are a bit of a slow coach, and so on. Etiquette in my book goes along with things like courtesy, manners and common sense. All things that cost nothing to use or do.

But they are things that generally mean we must make a small effort, but for the benefit of others, not ourselves.

To me, as a student of human behaviour, it's the fact that it benefits others more than ourselves that probably means that it gets passed over as too difficult.

Particularly in the "dog-eat-dog" world, or 2017.

I have been known to point out people's failings in etiquette at the boat ramp from time to time.

I've had people thank me and some even take it the wrong way.

Sometimes with some spectacular results.

Here's a few pointers:

Don't hog the ramp

Things like untying the tie-down straps, putting the bungs in, undoing the light board etc.

Loading the esky, wakeboards and all the kids into the boat before you go, and of course the reverse procedure when you go home.

The actual boat ramp is not the place to do this.

Park away from the boat ramp.

Get the boat ready to the point where it is all ready to push off the trailer (but always leave the winch rope and safety chain attached until you are over the water), before you back down the ramp.

Note the word before.

When you are loading the boat onto the trailer, likewise, as soon as it is back on the trailer (and the safety chain is on) drive up and off the ramp and unpack etc away from the ramp.

Don't push in

When you see someone else on the ramp and you have to wait, use that time to look around and see if anyone else is waiting to use the ramp.

They are there before you and etiquette in any circumstance, that means you should wait.

If some other emergency means you can't really afford to wait, go to the effort of asking the other waiting people if you may push in.

Most people will say okay if you ask nicely.

Some may tell you no. If they do, respect that.

Let me give you a tip: no one likes queue jumpers.

Simply pushing in front of people while pretending there is no one else there will result in a fair chance that the aforementioned "boat ramp rage" may rain down on you and smite you most mightily.

Be prepared

If it's your first time at a ramp, sit back a while and see what the others do.

If you've never backed a boat trailer, practice in a paddock or car park somewhere first, then when you get to the ramp, take your time.

Don't put too much pressure on yourself. Rushing only makes it worse if you don't have much experience.

Lend a hand

Look if you see someone having a struggle with the boat, particularly if they are alone, older people, got kids or whatever, don't be afraid to give them a hand.

Sometimes just holding the boat for them while they hook the winch up is all they need.

I always find the quicker they are off the ramp, the quicker we all are.

In conclusion, be polite, don't muck about, don't block he ramp unnecessarily, don't push in and be prepared to lend a hand if it's needed.

Common sense at etiquette goes a long way to making everyone's day nicer.

Remember that. Everyone's day. Not just yours.

You could even call it a random act of kindness.

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