COLUMN:Some boaters at launch ramps have water on the brain


May 11, 2007|By MIKE WHITEHEAD

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I am excited this year to be chosen as the grand marshal of the Eel Grass Stomping Festival to be held at the dock of anyone who is trying to do routine maintenance dredging to keep their boat afloat at low tide. The build-up of materials is not the fault of the dock owner, and this material flows into our harbor from upstream in the county. I feel your pain — eel grass is prolific and has never had a problem growing in our harbor, especially with our waters being cleaner thanks to the city's Coastal and Bay Water Quality Committee.


Boating season is here, and I am starting to receive e-mails, asking where the launch ramps are. The only public boat launch ramp in Newport is at the Newport Dunes, and I want to share an e-mail that I think you will enjoy.

"Dear Capt. Mike,

"I would like to know the proper etiquette to use the launch ramp, as some people are so inconsiderate blocking the ramp while loading their boat."

Whenever I need a good laugh, I set up my folding chair by a launch ramp on any weekend morning. Goofy not only goes sailing but also tries to launch his boat. Yes, those people who block the launch ramp while loading or unloading gear are very inconsiderate and probably have water on the brain. You prepare your boat by loading your gear, removing tie downs — except the bow strap — inserting the drain plug, turning on the batteries, priming fuel lines, and discussing the launching strategy. Then back down the ramp to launch, and you should immediately move your vehicle and trailer off the ramp. You can take care of any last-minute details while tied to the courtesy dock.

I have seen boats completely untied only to slide off the trailers onto the pavement, drivers backing the car down into the water, jackknifing trailers, and boats drifting down the bay while the owner is trying to start the outboard that has been sitting in his garage since last summer. Remember, courtesy and etiquette at the ramp is a great way to begin a day of boating.

Tune in to the top boating radio talk show in the nation, "Capt. Mike Whitehead's Boathouse Radio Show" from noon to 1 p.m. Saturday on KLAA-AM (830).

Safe voyages.

  • MIKE WHITEHEAD is the Pilot's boating columnist. Send marine-related thoughts and story suggestions to or go to

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