As I sipped a cup of coffee I looked out the restaurant window toward the boat launch. A pickup truck pulling a sixteen foot boat made a wide swing as it prepared to back down into the water. The driver stepped out, walked to the rear of the boat and removed the transom straps. He then disconnected the bow hook and replaced it with a rope which he tied to the corner of the truck bed nearest the dock. Returning to the truck, he smoothly backed the boat and trailer down the ramp. The driver then gave a slight tap on the brakes, and the boat slipped quietly off the trailer and into the water. When the boat came to the end of the rope it swung gracefully around to the side of the dock. Within minutes our accomplished boatman was motoring out into the lake.
I couldn’t help but feel sorry for the poor soul. It has to be tedious falling into the same routine launch after launch; swing in, unhook, launch boat, park vehicle, go boating. Sad…Very sad. Personally, I don’t ever want to fall into that kind of boring, ritualistic routine. Boating is supposed to be exciting. For that reason I have developed a few techniques which I use alternately at each launching.
One routine I have perfected for use at most of my launchings is the “Testing The Steering, Transmission And Brakes” drill of my towing vehicle. This is accomplished by backing the boat and trailer toward the ramp using a wide zig-zag motion followed by frequent stops. In most cases I will pull ahead a few times and repeat the process. This test can last up to fifteen minutes, sometimes drawing large audiences, audiences who are usually waiting to launch their boats. Occasionally a few will offer advice, but most prefer to give references to my educational qualifications, sprinkled with sweltering adjectives. I always smile and wave while at the same time inspecting my boat and trailer from the comfort of my vehicle. This is accomplished by jack-knifing the trailer so that all that is required is for me to look out my driver’s window.
Once finished with this step, I occasionally use the “Practice Launch” drill. This technique involves backing the boat into the water, and then pulling it out again to unhook the transom straps. Periodically I use the “Hernia Launch” drill instead. This is similar to the “Practice Launch” drill except that once the boat is in the water I push on the bow of the boat until the veins in my neck are the size of anchor ropes. Then I pull the boat back out and unhook the transom straps.
When I’m in the show-off mood I like to use the “Premature Launch” drill. This is accomplished by backing down the ramp and hitting the brakes a little harder than intended. This results in the boat rolling off the trailer and merrily skipping across the concrete before it ever reaches the water. It’s a real crowd-pleaser when use in combination with the “D-Day Launch.” When you are under the presumption that someone else is holding the bow rope but the boat slips off the trailer and continues its journey out into the lake, you have accomplished the “D-Day Launch.”
The combination “Boat and Towing Vehicle Launch” always turns heads. All that it required is a vehicle with a transmission that can do a quick jump from park into neutral while the driver is outside said vehicle. The vehicle then simply follows boat and trailer into the water. During this one-time occurrence, I attempted to show wide-eyed horror for the entertainment value of the spectators. The boat would have easily disembarked from the trailer if I would have disconnected the bow hook. But unfortunately this was not the case, so boat followed vehicle and trailer to the bottom.
Do not confuse the “Boat and Vehicle Launch” with the “Interior Boat Wash” drill. The latter can only be accomplished by launching the boat without putting in the drain plug. It is necessary that the boat launch’s parking area be near by when using this technique. Taking too long to travel from parking lot back to the launch can result in the boat looking more like a submarine. And never, and I repeat never use “Interior Boat Wash” drill with the “D-Day Launch.”
Occasionally I enjoy using the “Pass-The-Buck” drill. But for this launch my wife is required to be present. These are the occasions when I think it only fitting to give her a portion of the credit for my launching techniques. The “Pass The Buck” drill occasionally leads to my last launch; the “Dry Run” drill. When said party suddenly decides it is not such a great day for boating after all, the “Dry Run” drill results in a return trip home, and the boat never touches the water.
Boating should be fun and exciting, and I wouldn’t want to see any aspect become tedious. With my methods there is never a dull moment. But I must warn against the use of these techniques by others. It has taken me years of experience to gain the knowledge required.