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Elkins45

Launch ramp disasters: how do they happen?

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I just finished watching several YouTube videos of nice shiny trucks being towed off of the bottom at boat ramps. Even if the vehicles weren’t total losses, it’s a pretty good bet they were never quite the same again. All of the videos were of the trucks being pulled out of the water. None of them were of the actual circumstances that caused the truck to get submerged.

 

Knock on wood, I’ve never had anything like that happen to me. But watching the videos made me wonder what must go wrong for people to completely sink their trucks below the surface?  Do they accidentally knock them out of gear, or did they panic and hit the gas in reverse? I find it hard to believe that the weight of an empty trailer could drag a full-size truck down the incline of a boat ramp unless the truck was in neutral. 

 

 Have any of you ever seen someone sink a vehicle? Do you know what happened to cause it? Since I just bought a new truck I’m hoping to not be the next YouTube sensation.

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Some ramps are steep AND slippery. I'd never choose to launch or recover a boat with anything other than a four-wheel drive vehicle.

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I bet a lot comes from not putting it in park/gear. I did see a wife/girlfriend nearly sink a jeep. I don't think she ever drove a manuel transmission. It didn't go all the way but when he finally had to leave the boat and pull it up, water came out when the door was open.

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I can tell you that my son almost sank my truck once.  I had him back my trailer in to load my boat.  After the trailer was in the water he got out of the truck and I saw the back up lights were still on (automatic transmission)!!!  I managed to get him back in the seat before it got expensive.

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For me it comes down to this:

 

  1. Have a process.
  2. Follow it.
  3. Don't get distracted.

If you do the same things every time you launch, it'll become habit and you'll be in good shape.  Start the year with a check-list, make sure your'e on the right page...

 

I had one semi-goof last year (forgot to unhook one of my tie downs), and it was because I got distracted stopping to help another boater at the ramp...and didn't go back to where I broke off.

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Never lost a truck but was in a sinking boat.  Boater forgot the plug the one time I did not ask.  Ask every time now and he just rolls his eyes.

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Haven't seen a truck sink yet but did see two boats get dropped on the concrete ramps before. I NEVER undo my bow strap until the boat is in the water. 

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Good question. I've never seen it either and the only disaster I've experienced was launching my boat without being in it and having the rope go with it. Luckily I didn't have to swim as another boater was there putting in and gave me a lift.

 

There are some pretty steep ramps in my area and I see a lot of guys putting in and they tend to hit the gas to hard in the beginning causing the tires to break traction. This could be the case for some. Most are probably stupid mistakes. I pull my boat with a standard trans so I'm very cautious. Always in gear and parking break set

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I always set the parking brake, no matter how much I think I don't need it. 

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Seen a couple trucks completely under water, one all you could see was the cab light under water (saltwater). Extremely step ramp that caused even seasoned anglers problems.

 

I wasn't there but it happened to my brother-in-law, his wife was backing the boat down when his teenage daughter thought it would be hilarious to scream bloody murder causing my sister-in-law to bailout with the truck in gear. Wasn't funny when they got home!

 

There's a couple ramps round here I refuse to use because they're too steep!

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A very common recipe for disaster around here is:

 

Idiots + booze = hilarity ensues at the ramp.

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It can happen, my cousin dumped hers in Florida.  She dialed 911 when it happened and the coast guard showed up a few seconds later with pylons and told her he was about to close the ramp.  Had she been there five minutes later the ramp would have been closed.  She has gotten her boat ready in the parking lot, backed it down the ramp, got out and it just creeped down and under.  She did not chase it and I dont think you should chase them.

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, ww2farmer said:

A very common recipe for disaster around here is:

 

Idiots + booze = hilarity ensues at the ramp.

Public launch at the City Dump (I-Bay) on a Sunday evening in summer.  Grab a lawn chair and watch.

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I'm with @PECo   We have a lake in our area that tends to drop 10ft or more over the course of a dry summer.  A couple of the ramps are steep and they have a massive coating of algae/slime on them that get's exposed by the end of summer.  You literally cannot stand on them.  You have to hold on to the side of your truck and slide down to the trailer to unhook the winch.  We tow our 18ft Ranger aluminum with a Grand Cherokee.  It is the front wheels (and only the front wheels) that have pulled us out of the water and up the ramp on several occasions.  Oh, and we back down the ramp very, very slowly.  I keep waiting to have to rescue a 2wd truck off that ramp.  

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Here's a clue.  When you are backing down the ramp, do not have the tow vehicle in reverse, and have your right foot resting on the brake pedal.  Gravity will take the rig down the ramp and with your right foot on the brake at the ready, even if you panic for some reason, all you need to do is press on the brake pedal.  

 

If you have it in reverse and get confused and fouled up, it is possible to step on the throttle and lose control of the rig.

 

Another hint.  When stopping on a ramp to load or launch, use park and the parking brake.  Use the brake first, then put it in park.  Using the transmission's "park" without using the parking brake can cause torque lock on the parking mechanism.  In some cases the only way to shift out of park is to have someone hook up to your vehicle and move it forward to allow the parking mechanism to release.

 

There are some places, and Quabbin is one of them that requires wheel chocks to be used when loading or launching.  

 

They also have a pair of boots hanging at the ramps.  You must use them or your own boots if you are going to step into the water when loading or launching.

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20 hours ago, DINK WHISPERER said:

Haven't seen a truck sink yet but did see two boats get dropped on the concrete ramps before. I NEVER undo my bow strap until the boat is in the water. 

Saw a guy dump a brand new 25ft pocket cruiser in a gravel parking lot. He unhooked the transom straps and apparently the bow strap on his roller trailer. Pulled forward and down she went.

 

I was almost a casualty 20 years ago or so. I had a 2wd stick shift truck and I forgot to undo the transom straps. The boat floated the trailer and pulled all the weight off the rear wheels. I couldn't get out of the truck because had I took my foot off the brake she would have went in. The ramp was at a riverfront bar. I had either the wife or the kid go into the bar and find somebody to pull me out.

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