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Ramps are for launching, not loading

January 29, 2016
By Capt. GEORGE TUNISON ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

I should have known better, but I just needed to go fishing. Unless I'm booked for a trip I usually don't fish on crowded winter weekends.

With a wad of new lures to try out I was dying to get on the water. I knew it probably would be crowded at the ramp so I mentally prepared myself for the show and promised myself to remain calm and stress free and just go with the flow.

Pulling into the park boat ramp that also features a nice separate and well marked launching area designed for kayakers, paddle boarders, canoes, etc., I was fifth in line to launch. The ramp is a double, allowing two boats to launch simultaneously. As my luck would have it there was no launching occurring. Just gridlock.

Article Photos

Capt. George Tunison

I fought to control my blood pressure by closing my eyes and repeating my meditation mantra over and over, calming myself, which seemed to work as long as I kept my eyes closed.

After a few minutes I slowly opened my eyes which was a mistake as my BP instantly shot up.

Still fifth in line and no one launching, no movement, clock ticking away the precious moments of my life. There they were, right on schedule.

Parked in the far right ramp was a truck and pretty new bay boat. Just sitting there as the family methodically loaded life vests, fried chicken, three coolers, two dogs and a hamster, spare clothes, grill, fishing rods, and countless other items. Near the end of the loading chore Mom sends the 13-year-old with the 5-year-old in tow across the park to the restrooms.

I realize I've made a grave error in judgment and look for a way to back out of the park, but truck six and seven now in line behind me foil any attempt at escaping the madness.

But there's hope after all. It's a double ramp! Exiting my vehicle along with others dying to go boating, we all walked to the ramp to find out why we weren't moving. In the left ramp was a Land Rover, a kayak and equipment on the ramp, and an angry woman telling everyone in the crowd but to no one in particular that "I'll be moving when I'm finished and until then, I ain't moving!"

Seven brave male boaters, some combat veterans, wanted to explain to her that she was wrongly in a boat ramp and taxpayers just coughed up lots of money to build a separate and very nice kayak launching area, just for her, in the other part of the park.

Dead silence.

The kids came back from toilet training and Noah's Ark was finally launched clearing the right ramp. The Land Rover finally loaded and left the park in a huff. Trucks started moving again and at first opportunity I got out of there as fast as possible thinking that a repeat showing of this horror film would be in full swing when I return to the dock in the evening.

BEFORE moving into the ramp to actually launch the boat I stop at a staging area and prepare the craft for launching, not loading.

In the staging area remove tie-downs. Put in the plug. Disconnect trailer lights. Load and stow gear. Turn on all systems. Tilt the engine. Have dock lines ready. Check the plug again. Only when everything is ready - then and only then - move into the ramp area and launch then leave the ramp.

When backing down the ramp turn off your headlights so as to not blind others trying to back down the ramp. Your headlights which are now pointing up into the other vehicles' mirrors are totally blinding the driver, effectively shutting down the ramp.

During season, launching facilities often are crowded at peak times.

Courtesy and common sense at the ramp helps everyone.

Capt. George Tunison is a Cape Coral resident fishing guide. Contact him at 239-282-9434 or, or



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