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Proper procedure and etiquette on slipways

Rules of the Slipway

BY Magson Marine – JULY 2011

Given the crowded conditions at slipways, following proper procedure and etiquette will save time and prevent you from becoming a slipway rage victim.


Prepare the boat at the far end of parking lot. This includes installing transom plug, raising sun canopy, loading gear, placing fenders, readying mooring lines, checking fuel, finding key / kill switch and turning on battery switch. Once you are 100% ready, get your car in line to use the slipway. When it's your turn, back down the slipway, get your boat off the trailer and quickly move your truck to the parking lot. Someone on your boat should immediately start the boat's engine and move it aside to the waiting dock (so the next person can use the slipway.) Do not put your boat in the water, then prepare or load it while at the slipway.


Organize your gear while underway back to the slipway area. Have someone get the car and trailer from the parking lot. They should wait in the car line until it's your turn. Unload all boat passengers at this time. While one person backs the trailer down the ramp, the captain unties the boat from the waiting dock and moves it to the slipway. Once the boat is on the trailer, raise the propeller and immediately move the boat to the far end of the parking lot. Remove transom plug and gear. Turn off battery. Lower sun canopy and install tie-downs.


  • Do not tie the boat up at the slipway and then leave to get your car. This can enrage other boaters.
  • Do not unload gear from the boat while at the slipway.
  • Do not boat into a slipway when other boaters are tied off and waiting. Doing so is guaranteed to cause conflict.

Remember to be well-prepared and to know your launching / retrieving routine. Do each task in the same order every time. Having a checklist allows you to quickly proceed through each task without fear of forgetting something important (like the drain plug!).

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