LeBlanc: Be respectful of others at boat launchs

A few weeks ago I addressed folks backing boat trailers that I witnessed over Fourth of July weekend, and I have to admit I saw some excellent examples of drivers who knew what they were doing. I also saw some folks that reminded me of my youth when I could jackknife a trailer with the most inept of whom I recently saw at the boat ramp.

Today, discourse is on boat launch etiquette that we all need to practice at the marinas and any boat ramps. Labor Day will be here in a couple weeks, so let's take some time to brush up on our manners.

It's summertime here in Southeast Texas and there is no shortage of boats on any lake, especially on the weekends. Come Labor Day, many will be participating in a last big hoorah for the summer by enjoying all of the water sports offered by our beloved lake.

I know that much of 21st Century mankind has little or no concept of etiquette and manners, but there are still a larger number that not only know the meaning of the words, they practice them daily. It is for the ignorant and narcissistic that I write, so take heed.

Impolite, self-centered behavior could well describe a kindergarten sandbox at recess, but it also fits the description of the mayhem that will be seen at some boat launches on this holiday weekend. The following are a few launch ramp etiquette rules that can make the task go a lot easier and faster for all.

Be communicative with any guests going out with you. Speak up and let them know they should avoid parking in spaces reserved for trailers/tow vehicles. Tell them how you will load and unload. Before your return to the launch ramp dock, let your crew know what they can do to help and for one more friendly tip, be calm.

Know where to load and unload, so if in doubt where to go once you get there call the boat launch or marina prior to leaving home and ask them, they want you to be as efficient and knowledgeable as possible so everyone will be happy.

Unloading your gear at the bottom of the boat launch ramp which could have been accomplished while waiting in line at the top of the boat ramp shows a lack of courtesy. It also is an all-too-common mistake boaters make when launching and one of the biggest causes of delays. Plan ahead. Create a checklist at home if necessary.

Don't be the launch ramp hog. Tying up your boat at the launch dock right next to the ramp, and then going to park the tow vehicle means the next person in line can't launch until you get back. Save everyone time by immediately moving your boat to the far end of the dock so there's room for the next person to launch or retrieve.

Don’t be guilty of Delay-of-launch breach of manners. Not launching the boat immediately when it's off the trailer and, instead, waiting for the crew to return from the bathrooms again adds delays and simmers tempers.

This is true at the gas dock too. Tie up at the dock, refuel the boat, and leave as quickly and safely as possible. Don't keep others waiting to refuel because your crew has walked to a nearby restaurant or shopping in the marina — that identifies you as ignorant and thoughtless.

We all need help from time to time. Therefore, if you see someone struggling and who could use some assistance at the launch, be kind to your boating neighbor and ask if you can help them. It could make everyone’s day a little better.

Those listed items will make everyone’s launching experience much more pleasurable and definitely expedite your own getting away from the boat launch or marina quickly and efficiently and on your way to frolicking and fun on the lake.

So much for public boat ramps and marinas, let us move on to one of the heights of disrespect and exploitation of other people’s property. That would be illegally launching your boat at a private launch.

There are many waterfront communities on Lake Conroe that are not gated and have private boat launches, park areas, and parking facilities for their homeowners that have been built by the homeowners associations for the residents and guests. Unless you are a guest of a resident with proper written documentation kept in plain sight on your vehicle you are trespassing.

It is not uncommon that usurpers of such homeowners property abuse the facilities by leaving trash all over the launch area.

To such usurpers let me offer this tidbit of information. If a homeowner association so desires they can have your vehicles — trucks, trailers, and any of your guest’s undocumented vehicles — towed and impounded leaving the usurpers on foot and facing a substantial towing fee in order to get their wheels out of hock on the next day of business.

So before you go down that road be advised that most homeowners associations post all of the necessary and legal signage that let’s those who do not belong know what towing company has their property and the phone number that can be called to claim their property at the start of the next business day.

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