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Staying Safe at the Launch Ramp

Even launch ramps can be treacherous in certain conditions.

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Boaters at the launch ramp
Swift current plus a large boat equaled disaster. Tim Bower

After repowering my twin-outboard 29-foot boat, I was dying to get back on the water—so much so that I ignored common sense and went out to the local river, which was running high and fast. The good news was that my repower worked fine and the boat ran well.

The bad part: Swift current plus a large boat equaled disaster. It took no less than a dozen attempts to get the boat remotely close to the trailer at the end of the day. The surging current would sweep it downriver past the trailer. 

Finally, we repositioned the trailer so it slanted in the direction of the current and finally got the boat loaded. My wife was almost in tears trying to help, and my stress level was off the charts. 

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With the boat on the trailer, we assessed the damage: One ripped-off metal fender, some missing fiberglass, and a chunk missing from one outboard anti-ventilation plate due to striking debris in the river. In all, it could have been much worse. 

Read Next: Boat Ramp Rules

My excitement and desire to get on the water clouded my mind, and I made a poor choice to launch at this river. A dozen variables played into that, from the bay being closed due to COVID-19, time constraints, etc. But at the end of the day, you have to respect the water and make the safe decision based on the conditions, not a desire to go boating. We were fortunate that only the boat and trailer were damaged and no one was injured.

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Josh Thomas 

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

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