Crowded waterways are a fact of life. Frustration reaches a boiling point when a boater doesn't use courtesy at the boat ramp. Often a novice boater just looks at the other boaters with a blank stare as they shake their fists at him. They don't have any idea why they have aroused anger.

Here are more than a few tips on the proper use of a boat ramp.

1) Before you attempt to back your trailer down a ramp you should practice backing. Nothing makes boaters more frustrated than to have to wait for another boater who obviously has no idea how to back a trailer. It is not as easy as most boaters make it appear. It took me years to learn how to do this and sometimes I still have to pull forward to straighten out the trailer. The more practice you have the easier it will be next time you go to launch your boat.

2) Please prepare your boat for launching before you get to the ramp. This includes loading all of your coolers, fishing gear, skiing gear etc. Then take the straps off, lower your motor and do all of the other tasks (most notably put your plug i). Boaters who are ready to launch their boats do not want to wait for you to prepare yours as you clog a ramp.

3) If you see a line at the boat ramp do not just by-pass it if you see a free ramp. Most likely the next boat in line is getting ready to drive into the free spot. I have seen this happen on many occasions. If you are ready and the next boat isn't, politely ask the driver if you can go first. This will avoid many arguments.

4) When backing down a ramp at night or in pre-dawn hours make sure that you turn off your lights. Your lights shining up the hill will blind other boaters attempting to back their vehicles down the ramp.

5) When you pull into the launch area to take your boat out of the water, pull up to the ramp and let the driver off to bring the truck and trailer to the ramp and then pull the boat back out into the lake. Don't tie your boat off to the launch ramp unless you are alone. If you are alone, tie your boat off in the most unobtrusive place you can find. Remember that not all boaters are experienced and you run the risk of your boat being run into if you keep it in a highly congested place.

6) Be patient with other boaters. On many occasions I have informed a boater that he is being discourteous to discover that he had no idea of what he is doing. Another thing that you have to remember is that anyone can make a mistake. The other boater might be having a bad day. I have certainly had more than my share of bad days and I am glad that a few other boaters have given me a break.

When you are waiting to get your boat on the water this summer please remember to keep a cool head and think about the other boaters. This fact alone will make launching your boat safer and more enjoyable.