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Author Topic:   Staff assisted boat ramps
JMARTIN posted 04-20-2010 12:22 PM ET (US)   Profile for JMARTIN   Send Email to JMARTIN  
A new privately owned boat ramp is planned for Anacortes, Washington. According to the newspaper, it will be open for commercial and noncommercial boats. Staff will be necessary for launching and requires paying a fee. They do not state what the fee will be.

I have no problem paying a fee to launch at a publicly owned or a private facility. It costs money to maintain a ramp and the private launches around here use staff operated slings. The ramp I use charges for parking so technically you can launch for free if you do not use the parking. All the ramps I have used have been self serve.

I have never launched at a staff assisted ramp and I curious as to what the staff does? Do you just pull up to a staging area and get out like you do at the private sling operations? Do you basically do everything yourself and the staff watches and maybe hangs on to a line to pull the boat to the dock? What if you are not very good at backing up a trailer? Will the staff get into your vehicle and back it down the ramp for you? Will the staff crank the boat back on to the trailer when you return?

Just what sort of service should you expect at a staff assisted ramp?

John

Buckda posted 04-20-2010 12:31 PM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
John -

In areas where there is very limited access to the water - where public ramps end up being 8-lane monsters - I think a private service where "insured and trained" professionals took over the reigns and did it for you would be a benefit. I can think of areas - like Chicago's waterfront - where launching and retrieving on a Saturday can become very, um, illustrative of the need for this kind of service.

It would certainly move the line for those waiting to use the ramp along MUCH faster, in many cases.

I often felt that in very congested urban settings with access to a clientele connected to significant wealth, a combination facility that offered fork-lift in/out, ramp and travelift services, along with a substantial "courtesy" dock and ample parking could do well.

As on-the-water marinas continue to reduce the land-side footprints due to soaring property values, I think we'll see this kind of service expand and evolve to meet the needs of the boating public.

Thankfully, Michigan doesn't have very many areas where this type of access is restricted - but on a rocky shoreline with large cities and relatively few access points (i.e. N. California through Washington State), this may be an increasingly viable business model.

K Albus posted 04-20-2010 12:54 PM ET (US)     Profile for K Albus  Send Email to K Albus     
There's a large launch facility here in Michigan, on Lake St. Clair, just north of Selfridge Air National Guard Base, which I would describe as "staff assisted" on the weekends. This is a Michigan DNR operated Boater Access Site, and on Saturdays and Sundays during the peak season there are usually two employees working the facility at any given time. The first employee runs the entrance to the facility, collecting the launch fee and regulating the number of vehicles that are permitted to enter. The second employee directs traffic at the ramps. There are eight docks, each with launching/retrieval on both sides, for a total of 16 ramp locations. Although half of the ramps are marked "Launch" and half are marked "Retrieve", at high traffic times all of the ramps may be used for launching or for retrieving. The employee directing traffic at the ramps makes the call as to how ramps will be working in each direction. The employees do not assist in the actual launching or retrieving of boats, and they generally do not help anybody back down the ramps. Their main task is to keep everything moving smoothly.
K Albus posted 04-20-2010 01:06 PM ET (US)     Profile for K Albus  Send Email to K Albus     
My apologies . . . there are only six docks and 12 ramp areas. Here's a satellite view: http://maps.google.com/maps?client=firefox-a&hl=en&ie=UTF8&hq=& hnear=Michigan&ll=42.630422,-82.819861&spn=0.00178,0.003449&t=h&z=18
dburton posted 04-20-2010 01:52 PM ET (US)     Profile for dburton  Send Email to dburton     
I'm sure that most staff assisted boat ramps are quite good but I had a bad experience at Lake Tahoe. It was an unorganized mess. The “ramp assistant” that helped with my launch almost crashed my boat into another boat while moving mine to the courtesy dock. Only the valiant efforts of the other boat’s captain prevented the collision. It was a near miss within two inches. This was witnessed by my girlfriend from the gazebo above. I was away parking my tow vehicle and dropping the trailer.

The “ramp assistant” then docked my boat on the side opposite where my fenders were deployed. They were too lazy to move the fenders. As a result my boat was scratched and marked up from rubbing against the dock.


Doug

sapple posted 04-20-2010 04:07 PM ET (US)     Profile for sapple  Send Email to sapple     
"Just what sort of service should you expect at a staff assisted ramp?"

I would think cleaning and waxing my boat when I am finished would be nice.

pglein posted 04-20-2010 04:23 PM ET (US)     Profile for pglein  Send Email to pglein     
I would never let someone I didn't know launch or retrieve my boat via a ramp. I am generally hesitant to even let the travelift operator move the boat into and out of the sling. I prefer to do this myself.

I certainly wouldn't pay an up-charge for a "staff-assisted" boat ramp. In fact, I object to paying to launch at all. I happily pay the $5 fee to launch at the State Parks, but that is because I think it is a bargain for what you get in return. However, in my area (South Puget Sound) free county lauches are plentiful and generally not very crowded. I see no reason to pay $13 to use the ramp at Pt. Defiance Park, when I would usually have to wait quite a while for a ramp to open up, and park 1/2 mile away up a steep hill. No thanks, I'll drive the 15 minutes to Gig Harbor and launch for free (even though the return trip will cost me $8 in tolls). It's a matter of principal.

One thing I will say is that I find it astonishing how lacking the Anacortes area is in good launch facilities. As best as I can tell, there are only two facilities: The single ramp at Washington Park, and the Cap Sante's sling.

Washington Park is my choice. You pay for parking only, and the charge for that is reasonable. However, it is very exposed and there is limited space for parking. Cap Sante isn't even an option for me, as I have a bunk trailer. Never mind that they charge an arm and a leg. Given that Anacortes is the gateway to one of the most travelled boating destinations on the west coast, I find this unbelievable. One would think the city would want to capture the tourist dollars of boaters coming through town on their way to the San Juans.

pcrussell50 posted 04-20-2010 04:34 PM ET (US)     Profile for pcrussell50  Send Email to pcrussell50     
[Endorses] the concept of private staff to help ensure smooth operations at the ramp. It wouldn't break my heart to require proof that your engine will crank and fire while in the ready lane, before being allowed down down to the ramp on weekends and holidays. And absolutely NO kayakers laying their vessels perpendicular across the portion of the ramp adjacent to the dock that boaters use for ingress and egress... blockng that whole lane while they park their cars in the distant lot because they don't have a trailer.

-Peter

JMARTIN posted 04-20-2010 04:44 PM ET (US)     Profile for JMARTIN  Send Email to JMARTIN     
Peter, watch the tides at Washington Park. I tried to drop off a passenger on a minus tide there once. I could not even make it to the dock.

There is another launch you can use. It's under the Duane Berentson Bridge, the bridge you cross onto Fidalgo Island over the Swinomish Channel. Seven bucks a day parking and a lot of parking available. This is the one I use.

John

Stevebaz posted 04-20-2010 05:23 PM ET (US)     Profile for Stevebaz  Send Email to Stevebaz     
Here in Southern California there is an assisted ramp at a private facility called Newport Dunes, in Newport Beach. Mostly the ramps are used by self launch but the people staying in the campgrounds unload their trailers in the boat parking area and go set up their motor homes in the campground. When they want to go boating staff hooks up the boat and trailer and launches the boat to their tow motors and launch for their customers. It is all part of the Launch fees everyone pays to use their private facility wether you launch yourself or they do. There is no public option so you are stuck to pay up or join a yacht club and use their facilities.
Steve
JMARTIN posted 04-20-2010 05:58 PM ET (US)     Profile for JMARTIN  Send Email to JMARTIN     
It looks like Skyline in Anacortes still has their self serve sling in operation also. It is pricey, 31 bucks, 5 bucks extra for bunks and 9 bucks to 12 bucks a day parking depending on the distance from the boat launch you use.

This is a self serve sling that is very scary in my opinion.

John

tjxtreme posted 04-20-2010 06:30 PM ET (US)     Profile for tjxtreme    
pcrussell50- Remind me to bring my boat trailer next time I go kayaking, so I can add to congestion in the trailer lot and save everyone else time.
sapple posted 04-20-2010 07:04 PM ET (US)     Profile for sapple  Send Email to sapple     
I have never had launch assistants when I launch. On the other hand its nice to have dock hands at fueling docks. Not all marinas have them.
contender posted 04-20-2010 07:47 PM ET (US)     Profile for contender  Send Email to contender     
When you say private launch and ramp are you saying someone that owns the land is making a ramp for boats, or is that the state using tax dollars to build a ramp (I do not see how this could be a private ramp under these conditions). The only reason there would be ramp assistants is to move the traffic and keep the ramps clear(maybe pick up the trash also). The amount of insurance it would require to let them back your boat down would be outrageous. I also agree with pglein I would not let someone I do not know drive my vechile let alone move my boat and trailer. I guess the most labor you could expect from them would be to hold a dock line or wash a boat(if there is a place for it) and that would have to be a slow day or if you have a lot of good looking women on your boat....
pcrussell50 posted 04-20-2010 07:47 PM ET (US)     Profile for pcrussell50  Send Email to pcrussell50     
Good! A kayaker... tjextreme, I've got to ask. Do kayakers _intentionally_ block the prime lanes, that they don't need themselves, the lanes closest to the dock, as some kind of self-righteous act of spitefulness? Like road bicyclists, angry that the cars on the road are too fast or too close? Or is it more likely the same random idiocracy that thoughtless power boaters also engage in?

-Peter

home Aside posted 04-20-2010 09:10 PM ET (US)     Profile for home Aside  Send Email to home Aside     
I could see where an assist would be a benefit to someone like me launching & recovering a Revenge 22 WT by myself, they could handle the dock lines while I back the trailer in & vice versa....

Pat

JMARTIN posted 04-20-2010 09:26 PM ET (US)     Profile for JMARTIN  Send Email to JMARTIN     
Private land, private ramp, they had to get approval of the planning commission is how I found out about it in the newspaper. Peter is correct in "Gods country of fine boating" there is a dearth of places where you can launch. Washington Park, public, not a whole lot of parking. You have to wait for someone to leave to get in on busy times.
The private ones, Cap Sante, expensive, and limited hours. Skyline is the same, pricey, limited hours.

The Port of Anacortes does not have a public ramp for some unknown reason. The Port of Skagit County in La Conner has a sling which is pricey also. I use to keep my boat in the Port of La Conner's dry boat storage. Why I switched to private dry boat storage is because when you wanted to be slung in, they would do the people waiting in line with boats on trailers first. I asked why am I not in the water when I called a 1/2 hour ago to launch? Well these people on trailers can go elsewhere. We kind of got you captive, or words to that effect.

I got problems with kayaks also taking up lots of space on the docks when they can just pick them up and put them on the dock.

John

tjxtreme posted 04-20-2010 09:50 PM ET (US)     Profile for tjxtreme    
ha! I think its just your perception of the situation. I'll say this though, if I pay the same for a launch, I'm not going to feel bad about using a lane (prime or not) to launch a paddle craft. I'm sure the side lane is considered prime for launching any boat- not just ones with motors.

But then again, if there are enough motorboats to necessitate 3+ lanes, I'm definitely not putting in there anyway. I've had more than one person ask me why I didn't have a motor on my kayak... seriously, they waited for a reason why.

JMARTIN posted 04-20-2010 11:49 PM ET (US)     Profile for JMARTIN  Send Email to JMARTIN     
I am not talking about the boat launch dock being used by kayaks, it's the State and County docks out in the islands.

There is a condo owned dock that I use sometimes. At the start of the season one of the condo members puts his kayaks in the water and ties them to the dock. They seldom get used, just when the grand-kids come up. The rest of the condo members have to jockey around and raft up at times when guests arrive, like me, because there is no room.

I have asked my host at the condo why they do not just politely ask the guy to place his kayaks on the dock. They do not want to cause hard feelings or something. Personally, I think my host is being a wuss-ass.

I would surmise that it would be better to have a kayak out of the water then in it all the time.

John

pcrussell50 posted 04-21-2010 12:06 AM ET (US)     Profile for pcrussell50  Send Email to pcrussell50     
In ordinary endeavors, some people think of others before themselves, and the others, aaah... don't.

If I needed to use that dock, with the kayaks permanently and selfishly tied up there, I'd kindly walk right up and untie one of them and move it out of the way, put it back when I was done. No hard feelings, but not getting walked on, either.

In my experience, when it comes to dock and launching and recovering activities, operating professionally, has the side benefit of being more courteous as well.

-Peter

deepwater posted 04-21-2010 03:58 AM ET (US)     Profile for deepwater  Send Email to deepwater     
You could try and get the rules and fees from the owners,,The fact that its private would not make it a secret ramp as they will have to file a proposed use and business plan dock permit and parking area proposal with the town or city and the state DNR DFW and army corp of engineers concerning rip-rap and or dredging,,Also the bank providing the money will have a plane filed with them
tjxtreme posted 04-21-2010 09:40 AM ET (US)     Profile for tjxtreme    
Sounds like there is a problem with a single guy not realizing. I'd tell your "host" to let the guy know. If your host doesn't want to then its a problem with the host.

20dauntless posted 04-21-2010 09:42 AM ET (US)     Profile for 20dauntless    
John, we share a dock with quite a few other homes and I've never had a problem with kayaks on the dock. I think everyone uses the beach rather than the dock for kayaks. That said, I wouldn't hesitate to move a kayak if it was blocking the dock, and I doubt anyone would mind. I've moved dinghies a number of times and never heard a complaint.

As to launching in the San Juans... The only ramps I can think of are Washington Park and the one next to Twin Bridges. Skyline and Cap Sante have slings. Before we kept the boat at Twin Bridges we used Skyline and they always had someone available to sling the boat into the water. Not sure if they still do, or if its all self serve. I have seen boats dropped onto the concrete there before. As far as I'm concerned, Twin Bridges is just about as good as it gets.

Where is this new launch being built?

pglein posted 04-21-2010 11:14 AM ET (US)     Profile for pglein  Send Email to pglein     
I have no problem with a kayaker, or group of kayakers using the ramp to put their boat in the water...the prime lane even. But what I do have a problem with, is when they spend 15-30 minutes with their kayak laying crosswise across the whole ramp while they load it up for their trip, get dressed, park the car, etc...

This is really no different than a boater backing his rig down the ramp and THEN proceeding to load all his gear into the boat, un-do the tie-downs, install the drain-plug, etc... Which I also see rather frequently. TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE.

John, I appreciate the heads-up on the launch in the slough. I will admit, I knew about it, but had forgotten. I think the last time I went up there to launch, I either didn't know about it, or opted for Washington Park because it was closer to the islands and I wanted to save some fuel. Not sure.

I know nothing of Anacortes' local politics, but often the reason behind a lack of public facilities like this is due to political pressure (real or perceived) to avoid undermining private business operators. While I'm all in favor of that, I think it only makes sense when the private operators are doing an adequate job of providing the service at a reasonable price. This is clearly not the case with boat ramps in Anacortes.

The launches I'm accustomed to here in the South Sound are extremely rudimentary by most people's standards. In most cases, they are nothing more than an asphault strip, barely two lanes wide, run out to the low tide mark. No dock, no parking, no facilities, and certainly no fee. Those are my favorite ramps. They encourage efficiency. Have everything and everyone on the boat before you back it down, and nose back into the beach to retrieve the driver after he parks along the street for free. Of course, it's annoying when trying to launch alone, but why wouldn't you want to bring a friend?

JMARTIN posted 04-21-2010 12:06 PM ET (US)     Profile for JMARTIN  Send Email to JMARTIN     
The proposed new launch is south of Cap Sante, I'm guessing in here somewhere.

http://apps.ecy.wa.gov/shorephotos/scripts/bigphoto.asp?id=SKA0394

The lack of ramps is why I keep the Revenge in Twin Bridges during the season.

John

pcrussell50 posted 04-21-2010 02:24 PM ET (US)     Profile for pcrussell50  Send Email to pcrussell50     
quote:
I have no problem with a kayaker, or group of kayakers using the ramp to put their boat in the water...the prime lane even. But what I do have a problem with, is when they spend 15-30 minutes with their kayak laying crosswise across the whole ramp while they load it up for their trip, get dressed, park the car, etc...

My thoughts exactly! Only I took my curiosity one step further into wondering if they do it on purpose becuase of some animus towards low brow power boaters?

-Peter

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